A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim

Find out about the daily routine of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago.

By Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

Begins the day (2006)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

Get up, prepare your feet, and go. It's always extremely early, sometimes with the moon still in the sky, or a damp mist. The day's walk will lead to a new destination, closer to Santiago de Compostela.

Own footprints. Footprints of othersSpanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

At first light, pilgrims can see the twists and turns of the Camino de Santiago. As the light improves, the signs that guide the pilgrims become visible. If there are none, they follow in the footsteps of those who walk ahead.

Rest after the climb (2014)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

The pilgrims' day unfolds to the rhythm of the sun's movement across the sky. As they walk, pilgrims need to stop and quench their thirst. They will do this several times as the morning goes on.

Like bees in a honeycomb (2016)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

There are communal stopping places for pilgrims. They are places to rest, meet other lost pilgrims, and chat to new people. To an entomologist, these places would resemble beehives, with bees constantly coming and going, wearing rucksacks instead of carrying pollen.

When the pain stops you (2008)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

There are also the stops that nobody wants: when pain means there is no other option. The Camino de Santiago levies its toll in the form of blisters. Pilgrims need to find a quick way of easing the pain. On arrival at a pilgrim hostel in the evening, pilgrims do all they can to look after their feet, which will carry them to Santiago.

Earth, water planet (2003)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

Water is the pilgrims' faithful companion on the Camino de Santiago. It provides relief to those fatigued by thirst, and is part of the wonderful welcome at the pilgrim hostel and the blissful shower at the end of the day. Sometimes water can be a cause of difficulty, slowing down the progress of the pilgrims as they walk in torrential rain.

Doors open to the interior (2007)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

There are also stops to nurture the pilgrims' spirit: the stops made in churches that refresh the body and soothe the spirit, preparing them for the onward journey.

Any place, any table (2016)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

When time permits and pilgrims make the most of the opportunities to meet new people along the way, there is no hurry to reach one's destination. Any place will do for sleeping, or for spreading out on the floor the supplies carried by every pilgrim in their backpack, to use as a shared table.

Resting to rest (2004)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

At last, it is time for the long-awaited daily rest. Firstly, while waiting to enter the pilgrim hostel (together with their trusty backpack).

Floor, ceiling, home (2006)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

In the hostel, there will be a bed or the blessed floor, to which pilgrims will surrender themselves for a few hours of sleep. They will put down their belongings and rest their weary bodies.

A heart lying in the sun (2013)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

The evenings are long. This is when pilgrims attend to their other duties. Clean clothes for the following day are essential. They need to look after their shoes, and wash and dry the clothes that were worn on that day. Every evening, a new landscape appears: clothes hung out to dry in the sun.

Preparing tomorrow (2016)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

Evenings in the pilgrim hostels are a good opportunity to pass the time. It's a time to relax and chat about the many pilgrimage-related topics, while looking after and preparing their feet for the day's walking that awaits the pilgrims at daybreak.

Everybody counts (2008)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

The hours pass by. Pilgrims know that they have an early start and, even before nightfall, they start to prepare their dinner before recharging their batteries with sleep.

Night (2010)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

The day comes to an end on the Camino de Santiago. The pilgrims are thinking about sleep. They get ready to rest, nurtured by prayer, music, and the last conversation of the day. Anywhere will do: a chapel, a street, a rock to perch on and let the day's fatigue fade away.

One more day, another day (2008)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

A new day begins. Getting up, gathering their belongings, setting off for a new day and a new landscape. And that is a day in the life of a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago.

Credits: Story

Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago
www.caminosantiago.org
Jorge Martínez-Cava
Pilar de Luis Domínguez
Hospitaleros voluntarios
hosvol@caminosantiago.org
Ana Isabel Barreda

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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