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.
So here’s what I’ve found this week. As always, please write if I’ve missed something.
- A new bridge on the route between Finisterre and Muxía has made walk safer. Previously, the dangerous river crossing on sometimes-submerged stepping stones discouraged some pilgrims from walking the route.
- The Archdiocese of Santiago recently held a mass in honour of the pilgrims who died on the Camino in 2010. You can visit this link for more information on the pilgrims and their deaths.
- I just learned about the Caminho da Fé, a pilgrimage route in Brazil that was inspired by the Camino de Santiago. Pilgrims follow yellow arrows along the approximately 400-kilometre route, which has a variety of starting points, and ends in Apareceda. The Apareceda basilica houses Our Lady of Aparecida (Nossa Senhora Aparecida), Brazil’s patron saint.
- As of tomorrow (January 22), there will be a donativo refuge in Alcalá de Guadaíra, on the Cádiz extension to the Vía de la Plata. It’s 1.5 kilometres off the highway. This is apparently the first refuge to open on the route from Cádiz to Seville. For some reason this news really makes me want to start the Vía de la Plata in Cádiz, but I suspect that’s impractical.
- The Camino de Levante seems to have been more popular than ever in the last year. The number of pilgrims who stayed in the Ávila refuge increased by 60 percent from 2009 to 2010. Almost 85 percent were men, and the majority were Spanish, followed by French pilgrims, Germans and Italians. Nearly 54 percent arrived on foot, and close to 45 percent were cyclists. I wonder if the huge increase is related to the Holy Year, or if it’s at least partially a sign that the route is becoming more popular.
- Samos Abbey, which is on a variant of the Camino Francés, is going to house an ethnographic museum about food along the Camino. (You have to scroll down to find the story—the site doesn’t allow links to specific pages.) The museum will have photos, recipes, products for purchase, and more.
- Apparently there’s controversy around Santiago’s new City of Culture, which I mentioned last week. To learn more, visit the link, which is to an article in English. (Via Falcon269.) If you’re interested, you can a virtual glimpse of the City of culture through this video.
- Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez are going to write a joint memoir called Along the Way, which is scheduled for publication in June 2012. It sounds like their time on the Camino Francés while filming The Way will be a central part of the book.
- For the ninth year running, crowds gathered in the ruins of the Hospital de Peregrinos de San Antón to celebrate the festival of Saint Anthony. (The Camino Francés passes through the ruins just before Castrojeriz.) A priest celebrated mass, and after the Eucharist he—as part of an old tradition—blessed the animals in attendance, which included rabbits, dogs and goats. The modern ritual is based on a 1745 text that outlines the blessing ceremony as practiced by Antonian monks for centuries.
- Those of you who understand French (it’s too fast for me) might be interested in this YouTube video about a group of people who are helping a paralyzed man get to Santiago. He’s on what looks like a stretcher mounted on a single bicycle wheel.
Coming Up on Pilgrim Roads
Next week, I’ll post the story on the Springfield High School students who are planning a walk along the Camino Francés this summer.
I’ll also be talking with Brandon Wilson about his book Along the Templar Trail and the pilgrimage route to Jerusalem that he hopes others will travel. I should be able to post the interview relatively soon.
And Andy from Pilgrimpace’s Blog has kindly agreed to an e-mail interview on walking the Camino de Levante and his experience of how “the walking becomes the praying.” We should have that ready for you within the next few weeks.
¡Buen Camino a todos!