This Week in Pilgrimage: A New Italian Route?

[Cross at Carrión de los Condes]

Photo of the Week
I took this photo in Carrión de los Condes. As a photographer, I'd love to say I planned this, but I have to admit the symmetry of the birds is a total fluke.
See your photo here! Learn more at the bottom of this post.

And today …

… the second instalment of my weekly pilgrimage summary. If I’ve missed anything of vital (or not so vital) importance, please don’t hesitate to comment.

The usual disclaimer: I’ve done the best I can to ensure accuracy, but a lot of this information comes from Spanish sites and my Spanish is, alas, far from perfect.

A Potential New Italian Pilgrimage Route: The Way of Saint Paul

A Way of Saint Paul, or Cammino di San Paolo, is almost under development in Syracuse, Italy. It will visit places the saint is said to have stopped, and finishes in Rome. The plan was apparently inspired by the Camino de Santiago and the Via Francigena, and aims for similar greatness.

I don’t know any Italian, and Google Translate is a bit unclear here, but important people have just signed a memorandum of agreement saying they’re really going to do this.

If you’re interested in Saint Paul, there’s also a Saint Paul Trail in Turkey.

Update: According to renegadepilgrim on the Camino forum, a number of walking pilgrimage routes have been and are being developed in Italy. I guess I’ll have to add a wander around Italy to my list of pilgrim goals.

The Camino del Norte Aims for World Heritage Status

Friends of the Camino associations in Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia are working together to get the Camino del Norte named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To this end, they are apparently improving the physical path and the way marking, and above all, adding albergues. They have already taken the first steps by submitting a formal proposal to UNESCO, and hope to receive World Heritage status in 2012.

A year ago, there was some controversy about the idea of the Camino del Norte as a World Heritage Site.

The publication Cien razones para detenerse (One Hundred Reasons to Stop By) details some of the highlights of the route. It’s available as a PDF file (all Spanish), with some gorgeous photos that almost tempt me to abandon the Vía de la Plata and head for the Norte.

Camino Bits and Pieces

  • On Monday, the ETA (the organization that caused 800 deaths as it fought for an independent Basque homeland) announced a cease-fire. For more details, read the Time magazine story.
  • Valdeviejas, a hamlet on the Camino just outside Astorga, will bring its new Virgin Peregrina (Pilgrim Virgin) on her first procession when the Bishop of Astorga visits the town this Sunday. The statue (I think) will stay in the ermita del Ecce Homo, a common stop for pilgrims to Santiago. If you’re interested in the idea of la Peregrina, Robert Ward talks about it a bit in his book Virgin Trails: A Secular Pilgrimage, which includes a Camino journey.
  • Within less than a month, pilgrims on the Camino Aragonés passing through Huesca should be able to stay in its new Hospital de Peregrinos. The Asociación de Amigos del Camino de Santiago has recorded more than 5,000 pilgrims passing through the city in the past three years.
  • Santiago de Compostela will have international flights again soon, as the difficulties with RyanAir seem to be sorted out. (Via Sil.)
  • The Xunta de Galicia is going to invest €153,000 in San Paio—a cluster of houses grouped around a church a bit before Lavacolla on the Camino Francés. One focus will be on eliminating negative “visual impacts” in the area of the church. The funding will also go toward cleaning up vegetation, installing a new awning (or possibly roof), building a new sidewalk, and installing benches and street lights. The aim is to make it nicer for pilgrims and the general public.
  • The first two buildings of the Ciudad de la Cultura de Galicia (City of Galician Culture) were recently inaugurated in Santiago de Compostela. An ABC article compares it to the Santiago Cathedral a lot: “If the Cathedral of Santiago is a centre of spiritual pilgrimage, the Ciudad de la Cultura … aspires to turn itself into a beacon of cultural pilgrimage” (my translation). Eventually, the Ciudad de la Cultura will be made up of six buildings.
  • A Spanish cooking site has published a history of food on the Camino. It’s quite interesting, and sort of readable with Google Translate. The conclusion? “The pilgrimage was never at odds with good food” (or possibly, “fine dining”).
  • The latest issue of Arqueología Navarra revealed new archaeological findings about pilgrim deaths on the Camino de Santiago in an article by Mercedes Unzu, Carmen Jusué and María García-Barberena. The authors seem to have been interested in the pilgrims that died (in my translation of their words), “without glory, without epitaphs, and without stories to immortalize them.” They found what appear to be pilgrim skeletons in churches and pilgrim cemeteries on the Camino Francés, some with whole or crumbled scallop shells, some with old silver English coins. One cemetery contained pottery sherds decorated with shells.
  • On January 28, Ángel Luis Barreda, ex-president of the Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago (Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago) and current director of the Centro de Estudios y Documentación del Camino de Santiago (Centre for Studies and Documentation of the Camino de Santiago), is going to give a talk in Jaén. The title is El Camino de Santiago: Ayer y Hoy (The Camino de Santiago: Yesterday and Today). (Via The Camino Documentary.)
  • If you happen to be in Golden, Colorado on the evening of January 22, you should consider stopping by a pilgrim gathering. The event will include a screening of The Camino Documentary‘s 23-minute fundraising trailer, a Q&A with director Lydia Smith, and much more. It’s free and open to everyone. Learn more on the Facebook event page.
  • The Solitary Walker just completed a thoughtful ten-post series (heres the introduction) on the philosophy of walking.
  • If you feel the need to escape the medieval ambiance of downtown Santiago on May 7, L’Extraordinaire Uchronie 2011, a steampunk event, may be for you. According to the Wikipedia, “steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that … involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain….” From what I understand, people at the event will be expected to make their own outfits that look like they come from a steampunk universe. It would definitely make a change from the Camino.
  • The Federación Española de Associationes de Amigos del Camino de Santiago has a beautiful map showing all the Camino routes in Spain. You can buy it, or just click on the smaller picture to see the details, and look at it, and dream….

Pilgrim Roads Photo of the Week

Since I like photos and I don’t seem to have anything appropriate for Friday’s roundup post, I’ve decided to post a random pilgrimage photo every Friday.

If you have a photo you’d like to see here, please get in touch. I’ll give you full credit, of course, and include a link to your website/blog if you have one.

I’ll soon set up a form so you can send an attachment. It’s not that I don’t trust you, gentle readers—I just don’t want to give out my e-mail address here because of past experiences with horrendous amounts of spam from e-mail harvesting bots.

What’s Coming Up on Pilgrim Roads

I just had a great conversation with James March, a teacher at Springfield High School in Oregon, USA, and Sabrina Ehler, one of his students, about their upcoming Camino journey. I’ll be writing about that for the week of January 24th.

This coming Monday, I’ll be posting an interview with SlowCamino blogger Robert Townshend, who figures he’s set a slow record by walking the Chemin du Puy in about 60 days—and not losing any weight in the process.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from his blog:

At a large table of French and Swiss pilgrims, I distinguished myself by my short étapes and slow walking—naturellement—but also by pouring crème anglaise on my salad, in the belief that it was a substantial vinaigrette or sloppy mayonnaise. I was quick to cover my tracks by explaining it was an old Aussie way of eating salad.

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Posted by Anna-Marie Krahn at 1:42 pm
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