Visiting Santiago de Compostela

On Saturday, the day after we finished walking the Camino, we went to a government building in Santiago de Compostela to get our certificates acknowledging our completion of the walk. You need to have walked at least 100 kilometers on any Camino to get this certificate and we walked 143 kilometers. So we more than qualified.

Completion certificate in Latin

We went to the Pilgrims Office to get our certificates. It is called the Oficina de Acogida del Peregrino in Spanish and it’s near the Cathedral. Pro tip: Go to get your certificates in a group or form an ad hoc one to speed up the process to 30 minutes rather than a possible wait time of 90 minutes for individuals.

After we received our certificates, we headed straight to the Cathedral of Santiago for the noon mass for pilgrims.

The service was in Spanish. However, prayers were also given in English, Italian and German by attending clergy. The church was extremely crowded and every seat was taken. We had to stand for the one hour service.

My Spanish is of an intermediate level. B2 is my level of proficiency if that means anything to you. So I understood about one third of what he said when I was actively listening. If I read the service at my own pace, I probably would have understood about 80 percent and then would have needed to look up those words I didn’t know to get to full understanding. Spanish is spoken very fast so reading it slowly would have made a big difference in my comprehension.

They didn’t pass out any written material, unfortunately. But it seems that at least half the people understood what was being said and they responded in unison at the appropriate places during the service.

During communion, I did receive a wafer so I was involved that way at least. After the offering and the final blessing of pilgrims from around the world, the botafumeiro full of incense was raised in the air by eight clergy members and then swung across the full length of the apse of the cathedral. That was the highlight of the service and likely the moment many pilgrims were waiting for.

Raising the botafumeiro.
See video below if this activity interests you.

Here are some photos of the outside and inside of the Cathedral.

Now that it’s all over, I am glad I made the effort to walk the Camino. It was a most memorable experience. You can really appreciate the beauty that surrounds us every day when you take time to walk, look and listen, rather than rush around and focus on the thoughts in your head or ruminate on the depressing news that is continually delivered to your electronic device.

Between the war in Ukraine and the periodic slaughter of innocent children in public schools in the US, the world seems pretty grim these days. So devoting a week or two to doing a Camino should bring you some peace and joy, at least for a little while.

Sidebar: I used Google translate to do a quick and rough translation of the pilgrims prayer and the pilgrims blessing on the credential del perigrino booklet we received to get our stamps along the Camino to prove we walked more than 100 kilometers. Here are the translations below.

Bonus clip: Here is video I took of the clergymen raising up the gigantic incense burner (called a censer in English) and swinging it in the cathedral.

13 thoughts on “Visiting Santiago de Compostela

  1. I really enjoyed reading about your Camino, it reinforces my interest in such a walk, but as you say, it is better to do it without time constraints to enjoy all the moments as they come. It’s not just a walk. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. How amazing. I loved the video of the censor being swung through the church. That would be so amazing to see. Anything worth doing usually requires strength and perseverance, which I believe is the lesson of the Camino. I am so impressed that you did this. See you soon.

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  3. WoW! They really swing that censer! Were they burning frankincense? I love that smell. Memories of going to church as a little girl. Congratulations on you and Rick finishing the Camino. Hope you are not too sore. Another good trek to do is walking the Gorge of Samaria in Crete. Lovely walk and it takes about 5-6 hrs or so. It’s the second longest Gorge in Europe, about 16 km long.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed watching the censer swing. Not sure what was burning inside. I didn’t even know the word censer till yesterday. 😂 So you clearly have more background knowledge about this. Did you do the Crete walk? That sounds great.

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      1. Yes I did. I stayed in Chania. Beautiful city and a great waypoint to visit the archeological sites and the Samaria Gorge.

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