Can People Still Make A Pilgrimage? Is That A Thing?!

by Faith & Life

Hello, friends! In the spirit of celebrating our faith, for the next two weeks, I will be setting aside my work on the website in order to accompany a group on the Way of St. James. Together with Rome and Jerusalem, walking the path towards the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (northwestern Spain)  has been and continues to be one of the most important Christian pilgrimages.

The idea of “pilgrimage” is one rich in meaning for the Christian faith. Are we not pilgrims on this Earth, traveling along the journey assigned to each one in hopes of arriving at our final destination? And while we are certainly headed towards a greater horizon, our God is a God of the Incarnation who has met us on our earthly path. We are never alone on this journey! Our God is Jesus Christ who became true man: “He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart.” (GS 22) And, in this case, we could also say, “He walked with human feet”.

Through his free decision to become man, Christ sanctified not only his human body but also the places through which he passed. These “Holy Places” in themselves have no merit, they are sanctified by the purely free decision of God. In visiting them, we involve ourselves in a special way in the Lord’s Plan of Salvation. There, we are reminded that “salvation” is not just a word of theology… rather a word of history, of geology.

The Way Of St. James

Something similar happens with the saints: the places where they passed through, where their works of charity changed the hearts of those who knew them, where their bodies now rest… These are the men and women in whom the words: “It is no longer I who live but Christ that lives in me” (Gal 2:20) came to life. Through their courage and faithfulness,  Christ walked the paths of men once more.

For this reason, I, following the traditions of the countless Christians before me, now go to walk those same paths, hoping to hear the echoes of the millions of prayers that have been pronounced and to add a few of my own. Is not the Christian life a journey lived in prayer? Are we not invited to draw strength and inspiration from those who have traveled this path before us? Are we not all called to lift up our hearts and voices “at every moment” in communion with our brothers and sisters of the faith? Is this not the fantastic adventure towards which our loving Lord has called us to embark upon?

Be assured of my prayers for you all and for your apostolate. Please keep me in yours!

Here is a little bit more on the history…

The Transport of St. James Body

“In the Acts of the Apostles, the evangelist Luke tells us about the death of the Apostle James, son of Zebedee and brother of St. John the Evangelist. King Agrippa I. had James executed by the sword (Acts 12:1-2) around AD 43. His corpse is said to have been brought to Galicia on a ship by his disciples Theodorus and Athanasius. In the port of Iria, where the river Ulla flows into the Ría de Arosa near Padrón, the boat was tied to a rock which can still be visited today. From Iria, they took the coffin 12 miles inland until they found a suitable place to inter it. When they sought Queen Lupa’s permission for the burial she sent them to King Duyo, a known enemy of Christianity, who had them arrested. After a miraculous escape, the disciples turned to the queen once more, who then tried to dispose of them once again by sending them to mount Illicinus – today’s Pico Sacro. There, so she told them, they would find a number of tame oxen to pull the cart with the Apostole’s corpse. However, Theodorus and Athanasius instead found themselves among wild bulls which they tamed miraculously and put in front of the cart. Upon their return to the palace, Queen Lupa was struck with such astonishment that she asked to be baptized and offered her palace for the entombment of St. James.”

The Discovery

“In the first third of the 9th century, when Alfonso II el Casto (“the Chaste”) was king of Asturias – and possibly during the life of Charlemagne (742-814) – the hermit Pelayo witnessed the appearance of angels who announced the coming discovery of the tomb of the Apostle St. James. Some days later, shepherds reported a strange glowing above the hill called Libredón which was caused by a star. Once Bishop Theodomir of Iria Flavia was notified, he ordered a fast of three days. When the undergrowth was removed from the spot that had been illuminated by the star, a chest of marble containing a skeleton was discovered and identified by the bishop as the mortal remains of St. James. Notice was given to King Alfonso who immediately proceeded to the site and ordered the construction of the first church. In addition, a small community of monks was established that was to form the nucleus of the future settlement of Compostela.”


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