Call me crazy with my epic-bad knees, but I would like to take the pilgrimage of Santiago de Campostela.
It is a historic (and sad to say, secularizing) pilgrimage to the town of the same name, the western tip of continental Europe and the purported burial spot of St. James. I’ve wanted to do it for a long time, but all this interchange with Pereginato has made me think of it more.
Why? I would want the time, marked in space, and the depth of shared Christian experience — centuries in fact — to cultivate more room in my soul.
There are many paths to Santiago, and extended routes (say, through England to the point of embarkation, or as far east as Switzerland or north as Norway) and so many, many websites. Here are two I think are the best.
(And perhaps this pilgrimage for disaffected Anglicans.)
Wow, Scott! You are most welcome in Spain. Many people, religious and secular alike, make the pilgrimage. Among the religious ones, not just Catholics, you can find Buddhists, New Agers, and “seekers” with no affiliation along the road. Many people also do it by segments, year after year, because it is so long to do it in one single year even if you start inside Spain already. Unfortunately the Holy Year has passed already (a Holy Year is every time St. James’s Day -July 25 for non-Catholics- is a Sunday), but there will be many people along the path in summer anyway. In winter it is not recommended because of snow.
If you want a formal certificate that you have walked the path, you need to go to some specific places and they will stamp a special card to justify that you passed through that spot. Good luck, and bring good shoes and lots of medical stuff for your feet blisters!
BTW there is a legend here that the tomb of the Apostle is not really James, but famous heresiarch Priscillianus (4th century). Priscillianus has the doubtful honor of having been the first heretic to be killed (beheaded) for his (Christian) beliefs by other Christians. Apparently he promoted an ascetic form of Christianity and was a supporter of the poor against the newly established ecclesiastical power, and perhaps an antitrinitarian because his followers were protected by invading Germanic tribes who were Arian in their theology. Although Prisicilianus was taken to central Europe, where the Emperor was fighting against barbarians, and judged and killed in Trier, his corpse was allegedly brought in hiding by some of his disciples to Galicia, where he had probably been born and where he had more followers, and he was buried there. The tomb was consecrated to James because it was so popular among the common people, that the authorities decided to make it more “orthodox” by attributing it to an apostle (whose whereabout in Spain are totally unknown, by the way). In any case, it is still a legend and who knows who is buried there, if anybody is.