So I’ve already announced my decision to take a pilgrimage in Spain and France, but what exactly is the
trail? Expect heavy plagiarism from Wikipedia...

The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of Saint James, is an ancient trail from various
starting points around Europe to Northwestern Spain. Like most of
Christianity, the trail began pagan and was metaphorically painted
over to suit the new religion’s needs. It was also known as the
Milky Way trail because travelers followed a trail of stars like the
mythical three wise men coming from their native India. The
conclusion of the trail is a cathedral where tradition has it Saint
James is buried.

There were two apostles known as James in the Bible, so our man James is referred to as James the Greater,
since the other guy, James the Lesser, must have been a total tool.
James is the patron saint of Spain, laborers, rheumatoid sufferers,
and most importantly hatmakers. He shared some connection—surly not
physical since saints never did that kind of thing (wink wink)—with
a lady St. Bona (not making this up), who is the patron saint of safe
travel so I’m sure my pilgrimage will be hitch-free as long as I
believe...oh, wait...

The scallop shell became a symbol of the journey because people could take one back as proof of their
journey, although now people bring back certificates, white if it was
a religious pilgrimage or yellow for “other.” You know, I’ve
always liked yellow... The scallop shell also works metaphorically
for all the groves coming together at one central point.

Various trails start in Portugal, France, Italy, and England—ever hear of a book called the
Canterbury Tales?
Yeah, that pilgrimage never amounted to anything...oh, wait...

This is one of a few pilgrimages that Catholics believe that the experience of will cause one’s sins to
be forgiven. As an atheist, I am not worried about such matters, and
plan on doing the trail backwards, from Spain to France. Maybe my
sins will be multiplied instead of reduced (let’s hope they’re
the sexy sins if they are), but I do expect to meet more people along
the way, traveling against the grain rather than with the same people
the majority of the time. I will not be the first person to do the
pilgrimage in that direction, in a trip to Paris to obtain funds for
the Revolutionary War, John Adam’s ship was leaking and so he
traveled to France that way and left the experience behind. Of course
after the pilgrimage his career never went anywhere...oh, wait...
(You can view his diary entries of the experience
here)

There are four major routes going from Spain to France which I will have to choose from. One route was
traveled by Robert Louis Stevenson and written about in a book
Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes which would be interesting to
read about a trip I was also taking. One route ends in Paris which
would be great to conclude with the Eiffel Tower and home of the
Enlightenment. The Southernmost route would go through the Pyrenees
and ends at the Mediterranean. Deciding on which trail might just be
harder than the trip itself! More on that later, and input will be
nice!

Views: 35

Tags: James, Saint, pilgrimage, travel

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