Walking the walk!

During the summer, eight Downside Young Catholics walked the Camino de Santiago.

The pilgrims were all reasonably tired when they finally arrived at Santiago de Compostela, having walked the Portuguese route from Tui, located just inside the Spanish border with Portugal. Some of the group were nursing nasty blisters, which made the final stretch on urban streets particularly painful. They covered about 80 miles over 6 days, a bit of a challenge for the older members of the group, or for those lacking in fitness!

It was quite an experience though walking through the varied terrain of north west Spain, including upon Roman Road XIX, traditionally thought to be the very road taken by the funeral cortege of St. James. Santiago de Compostela itself does not disappoint, with it’s magnificent Cathedral, surrounded by medieval streets and buildings.

It will, however, be the various spiritual experiences along The Way that will remain with the group. Seeing the huge incense burner powered by six attendants travelling across the apse of Santiago Cathedral at 50 miles an hour during the Pilgrim Mass was of course both moving, and exciting. Yet the comraderie and constant wishes of ‘Bon Camino!’ within the international groups of pilgrims, many of them young people, will be the more lasting memory.

The Downside group found the mystical experience of sitting on the rocks at Padron where St. James preached to the people of Galicia, of particular interest. Under the altar of Padron Cathedral, which is located on the bank of the river, can be found the column to which the boat carrying St. James’ body was tied on his journey to his final resting place in Santiago. These two places above all others, reminded them that St. James was a real person, and not just a legend.