Walk Anyone? Camino de Santiago

01 Sep 2022

By Contributor

By Shirley-Ann Poulton

Shirley-Ann Poulton posing with a statue
Photo: Supplied.

Whitford parishioner Shirley-Ann Poulton is calling out for interested Perth Catholics to come together to attend a pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago and has this week shared her experience with The Record.

Most of us, who have seen the movie The Way, would have come out of the cinema with a desire to experience the Camino de Santiago.  I certainly did. That was in 2012.  My fourth Camino is planned for August 2023.

Many medieval pilgrims in the 12th and 13th centuries undertook the pilgrimage to Santiago because Pope Calixtus ll* had declared that Holy Years would be all years when the Feast of St James, 25th July, fell on a Sunday.

In those centuries as many as 250,000 pilgrims would travel every year, because of their faith, securing salvation or paying a penance.

Nowadays, however, pilgrims have other reasons: personal challenges; curiosity; meditation; peace and tranquillity of nature and silence whilst walking; being part of an international community; meeting new people; experiencing traditional food; and the list goes on and on.

For those who are not familiar with this pilgrimage, it all ‘began’ around 820, when remains were found in the Galician woodland and believed to be those of St James. 

That woodland is now known as the city of Santiago de Compostella.

A pilgrimage to Santiago gained popularity over the ages, by bringing people from various places to the tomb of Jesus’s second Apostle to be buried in Europe – the other Apostle being St Peter, in Rome.

There are many routes to Santiago which pilgrims can undertake, starting in Portugal, France or Spain and even further away for the more adventurous.

The tradition continues and each year (apart from the COVID years) thousands of pilgrims make their way to the famous Cathedral in Santiago.

It truly is a personal challenge to me especially when I look at the map each morning to see the route I have to take that day to reach the next village, and right in front of me is a mountain nearly 800m high which I have to climb!

Somehow, I manage it and reach my next destination intact, though exhausted, and longing for the shower in my room.

Each day of my journey I have the pleasure of meeting new people from all walks of life.

Photo: Supplied.

We share stories of our families, our past and what we are experiencing along the pilgrimage.

There are often tears when talking about sadness that has brought us to this point; and also lots of laughter.

I can’t think of a nicer way of having dinner in the evening than sitting at a large table in a village, and eating with people, some we may never see again after Camino, who all share the same faith and values.

After dinner we are privileged to attend a Pilgrims’ Mass in the village Church.

An itinerary has been put together to walk the Camino de Santiago, the French Way, which is approximately 800kms. 

This will commence on 27 August 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port and finish around mid-October – a total of 49 days.

The cost for shared accommodation is approx. Euros3,635; or a cheaper costing of Euros3,046. Slightly higher rates for single accommodation.

The cost includes private rooms with bathroom, breakfasts, luggage transfers, detailed walking notes or Guidebook and Pilgrim passport.  Between 15 to 25kms will be walked each day.

For more information, contact Shirley-Anne Poulton at shirleyann.poulton@gmail.com

*Pope Callixtus II or Callistus II (c. 1065 – 13 December 1124), born Guy of Burgundy, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 1 February 1119 to his death in 1124. His pontificate was shaped by the Investiture Controversy, which he was able to settle through the Concordat of Worms in 1122.