Opening of Holy Door in Santiago de Compostella

There are some super cool photos of the opening of the Holy Door in the Spanish pilgrimage site Santiago de Compostella.  This is a Holy Year for St. James.   By sure to check them out on the site of the eye candy specialists, NLM.

Here are a couple.

Note the great Spanish birettas!

There is a possibility I will be chaplain to a pilgrimage to Spain for the Holy Year.  I must say the photos whet my appetite. The pilgrimage would involve the older form of Holy Mass and some walking (seashell, hat and staff optional), as is traditional in order to obtain the certificate. 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Random Friar says:

    Perhaps you could introduce the “botafumeiro” they use in Compostela when you return to the States?

  2. pablo says:

    “…older form of Holy Mass…”

    What do you mean by this?

    Are you equating the Presider over the assembly with women distributing Communion with the True Mass?

    I apologize that this is not a warm and fuzzy question, or that it seems ‘confrontational’ but I ask it anyway.

    We pray for the time when the Novus Ordo and its followers will find their place in Church history next to Arius and his followers.


  3. Marq says:

    Yes, Pablo, that is what he means, generally speaking. The Mass is the Mass is the Mass, be it Ordinary or Extraordinary Form. A little bit of research will reveal that liturgical abuses are recorded in neither missal, but they sadly happen all the same. That does not mean that either form is a heresy.

  4. Agnes says:

    Wow, gorgeous vestments!

  5. Melania says:

    Will the pilgrims who accompany you walk the last 100 kms to the shrine and get a traditional compostela certificate at the end?

    I understand the certificate is in LATIN! Will there be an extra prize for those who can translate it?

  6. AngelineOH says:

    I just ordered a book about the pilgrimage. Coincidental? I think not.

  7. jasoncpetty says:

    The Compostela is in Latin. It’s a beautiful document.

    AngelineOH, I hope you didn’t get the Fr. Kevin Codd book, Field of Stars (or something like that). It’s positively dreadful. If you can find another book I would do so. I can recommend others if you like.

  8. jasoncpetty says:

    Oh, and Fr. Z, you should totally make the trip on donkeys!

  9. AngelineOH says:

    jasoncpetty, I ordered “Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus” by Fr. David Pivonka, TOR. I heard his interview on Sacred Heart Radio here in Cincinnati and it sounded very good.

  10. MargaretMN says:

    St. James, field of stars! I did a paper in college on the pilgrimage route and cult surrounding it. I even got to peruse some medieval texts in the rare book room of the University of Michigan library to do it. I’d better start buying lottery tickets, this would be the trip of a lifetime! I want my scallop shell!

  11. Melania says:

    Thanks for the link to the Compostela information, but I guess you thereby elimiinated the translation contest possibility.

    What books do you recommend about the pilgrimage? I’m afraid my pilgrimage there could only be imaginary.

  12. irishgirl says:

    What cool vestments and birettas!

    The Spanish do it right!

    Oooo, Fr. Z, I hope you get to go to Santiago! I wanna see the pictures-especially of the ‘Botafumiero’!

  13. tsk says:

    Cool. I walked part of the camino a few years ago

  14. Navarricano says:

    Jason: Making the trip on donkeys, as picturesque as it may sound, would is a royal pain in the … asno (ahem) … Donkeys walk when THEY want to walk, and when THEY decide that it’s time to stop, you stop. And then you argue with them … ;-)

    Irishgirl: Unfortunately, it’s more like “the cathedral chapter in Santiago de Compostela does it right!” While I have found things generally better here than in the U.S., the Spanish church is also afflicted with liturgies in which priests neither “say the black” nor “do the red” all the time, garish vestments are employed, inane experimentation is the rule of the day etc., etc. That said, I’ve yet to have the horror of a clown “mass” thrust upon me here.

    Melania: My favorite book about the pilgrimage was “A Hug For The Apostle” by Laurie Dennett. You’ll have to look for it in used booksellers (I don’t think it has been reprinted). She’s a Canadian woman who started in Chartes, France and walked the roughly 1,000 mile journey to Santiago to raise money for the MS Society in the 1980s. It’s not a spiritual or devotional book but a lovely account of her journey. She has a particularly sensitive eye for the architecture and monuments along the way, and a charming way of recounting her experiences with the people she met along the route. Her book inspired me to undertake the pilgrimage for the first time back in the 90s. By the way, why do you say you could only make the journey in your imagination? If you want to do it, go for it!

  15. Supertradmom says:

    Please go and send us glorious photos.

  16. An American Mother says:

    Navarricano – donkeys are o.k., you just have to reason with them. They cannot be bullied like horses (I’ve worked with horses for 45+ years), but you CAN give them the eye (if you have the gift), and they will move. A small bag of Mrs. Goodpastures Cookies for Horses in the pocket also is not amiss.

    When my daughter made the Camino on foot 2-3 years ago (she did about 200 km with a group of American students) she met a Canadian who was walking the whole route from Tours – with a donkey. The little fellow gave nobody any trouble (I mean the donkey – whoever heard of a Canadian giving anybody trouble?) She also met a bunch of Hungarian Gypsies in full festival dress, with a vardo pulled by what looked like Haflingers, and several Arab-looking saddle horses that they rode with much panache and flaring of manes and tails.

    She has her certificate framed and proudly displayed in her dorm room. Always good for a conversation with fellow students!

  17. An American Mother says:

    Besides, if R.L. Stevenson can do it . . . ?

  18. Navarricano says:

    American Mother: My comments were offered in jest, of course … I’ll freely admit I have limited experience with donkeys (and only slightly more with horses)… however, I’m amused to hear that giving a donkey “stink-eye” will get them to move! LOL!

    I’ve got considerably more experience as a pilgrim to Santiago and as an “hospitalero” (one who volunteers to attend the pilgrims in hostals along the route), and I’ve seen pilgrims travelling with donkeys or on horseback along the Camino on numerous occasions. I admire their determination and patience. Travelling that way can be a logistical nightmare. It requires an enormous amount of planning and can be expensive, since the pilgrim’s refuges along the Way are not equipped with stables for animals and the folks doing the Camino this way have to find accommodating farmers or public stables, and that can be quite difficult. There aren’t many along the route, and you’re not permitted just to tie them up in any field, you have to have the explicit consent of the landowner. Also, the Camino crisscrosses with the motorway in numerous places, and the entrances to cities such as Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos and León can be complicated because of the modern traffic beltways surrounding them. Plus, you can pretty much forget lodging in those cities if you’re travelling with an animal.

    It sounds picturesque, but on foot is the way to go! You have so much more freedom when you walk the Camino than when you have to worry about stabling and caring for your mount imho.

  19. joebebopper says:

    How does one get in on this pilgrimage? Sounds scrumptious.

  20. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    The Espada, or Largetto, of the habit of the Order of Santiago is clearly visible here and in several of the NLM’s site. They’ve been guarding the pilgrimage since about 1150.

  21. Tim Ferguson says:

    …to obtain the badge, an indulgence and a Spanish biretta perchance?

    I wonder if the green tufts on the birettae in the pictures above denote those priests as canonists, or if it’s merely part of the privileges of the canons of the basilica.

  22. jmhj5 says:

    I have my shell….may I go with you please….I have my walking staff from my last journey..please….:)
    God Bless

  23. Central Valley says:

    Eye candy indeed. Thanks be to God. I can only dream of seeing such a procession into the concrete cathedral in Los Angeles…

  24. An American Mother says:

    I would bet you a slightly used burro that those gypsies didn’t bother to ask permission and left before the farmer realized they were at the bottom of the field . . . .

    I am by necessity a suburbanite right now, but I come from a farming family (at least on my father’s side – mom’s family have always been urban tradesmen) and I have many friends who are farmers and/or hunters (fox or bird) with acreage. I would never tie my horse out in anybody’s field without permission.

    Since I’m used to talking to our local landowners to get permission for the hunt to ride across their land or to use their fields for dog training, I presume that there’s a similar network of folks in Spain for whatever field sports are popular there. It should be a matter of making contacts within that network, calculating your mileage per day, and getting the necessary permission. Of course it would be a nightmare and a headache – but what fun! (you see, those of us who are horse-mad ENJOY that sort of thing).

    I’m game for the march, though. I do my 4 mile daily walks with the dogz (two out and two back on hilly terrain) with no distress.

  25. Melania says:

    Thank you for the book suggestion and for the encouragement. Maybe one day I could do it. Lots of obligations here.

  26. mom2six says:

    My son made the Camino on foot 2 years ago. He went with a group from Champaign, Illinois. He also has his certificate framed & hung in his seminarian room. He found the trip amazing. I wish I could go and would encourage anyone who can to “just do it.”

  27. Traductora says:

    I did the Camino in 2004, also a Holy Year, and went through that door. A couple of years later, I volunteered to work at an albergue (pilgrim hostal) and spent three exhausting weeks there.

    During that time, a French traditionalist group came through. They were permitted to have their mass in the chapel at the albergue. Most of the albergues do not have chapels, but they told me they had generally been permitted by priests along the way to use the local churches for their masses. There were about five priests, two seminarians (one American and one Canadian) and some 80 laypeople.

    The priests slept outdoors along the Camino, and the people generally stayed in the albergues, although some of the less hardy pilgrims also stayed in the hostales and pensiones in the towns along the route. The interesting thing is that they had started with about half that number.

    People would see them celebrating the traditional Mass, saying the Rosary or singing hymns as they walked and would just tag along and become part of this loose group. One of the seminarians told me that they expected to have about 100 people by the time they got to Santiago, because people were really attracted by the group, particularly by the old Mass.

    They were very nice people, btw; very devout, but not nutty, bitter or peculiar. The priests wore cassocks when they weren’t hiking, and some of them wore their cassocks when they were walking, as well. The women were dressed modestly but not strangely and in fact most didn’t wear even head coverings at mass, and the men and women and family groups walked together, cooked together and seemed to be having a good time. The Camino goes through some very beautiful parts of Spain, and everybody seemed to be enjoying the splendor of God’s creation. I think they probably reached Santiago with a lot of new “converts.”

  28. Penguins Fan says:

    This is something i would like to do in the future. My son is almost two, so going anytime soon is out of the question.

  29. Sil says:

    To read about the history, the different routes, to buy guides and books on line.

    To plan your trip, with a print out of daily mileage, sunrise and sunset, the profile and topography of the route:

    To work out your budget:

    A Spanish site with lots of info in Spanish and English

    French chemins:

    To read pilgrims’ diaries:

    Forums and Groups: (About 1 300 members) (about 170 members) (Click on ‘FORUM’ – over 1 000 members)

    Camino Associations (English sites):
    South Africa: CSJ of SA:
    American Pilgrims on the Camino:
    Canada: The Canadian Company of Pilgrims:
    England: Confraternity of St James:
    Ireland: The Irish Society of the Friends of St James:

    Happy surfing,

  30. irishgirl says:

    Navarricano-sorry about that. I guess I got carried away when I saw the pictures. I was in Spain only once, in 1996, and went to one Sunday Mass [at the Augustinian Monastery in Madrid, just around the corner from my hotel].

    When I read the posts about using donkeys/mules, I remember the journeys St. Teresa of Avila made by muleback or carts for her foundations. The roads back then weren’t very comfortable!

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