‘El Camino de Santiago’, or The Way of St. James, is the oldest and most important pilgrimage route in all of Europe. All Camino routes ultimately lead to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, the final resting place of apostle, James (St. James, the Greater). Following the discovery of the tomb of Santiago in the region of Galicia, Spain in 814 AD, a small village named Campus de la Stella and a monastery were built on the tomb site. News of the discovery of the tomb and relics spread like wildfire and pilgrims began arriving. This 1,200-year-old tradition lives on to this day with over 250,000 travelers making the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, built directly on top of the tomb holding the relics of St. James.
Our very own Santiago de Compostela Catholic Church in Lake Forest, Diocese of Orange (SDC), is believed to be the only church in the world that shares the same name as Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Beginning in 2015, newly assigned pastor, Fr. Thomas Paul K. Naval, sought to more closely to align his church with its namesake, as well as the spiritual nature of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage and its traditions. Accordingly, he set the task of recreating the Camino de Santiago experience through a one-day pilgrimage event, including a Camino walk, on the weekend before or after July 25, the feast day of Santiago de Compostela (the date of the discovery of the tomb and relics of St. James).
News of SDC’s Camino de Santiago has spread. What began as a trickle of 100 pilgrims in 2015 grew to 750 in 2017. This year, the parish anticipates over 1,000 pilgrims participating in its 4th annual Camino de Santiago. Pilgrims will walk one of two Camino routes: 4.3 miles or 7.0 miles, depending on their personal preference. After checking in at the church plaza, they are bused to their respective Camino starting points. From there, it is all downhill on walking trails leading back to the church. For those unable to walk the aforementioned routes, SDC hosts a short ‘on-campus’ walk with activities mirroring those of the longer Camino.
Upon arrival back at SDC, pilgrims are encouraged to view the Camino de Santiago documentary films. In addition, live entertainment will be provided at the church plaza including Folkloric dances and Camino-themed songs. A “Pilgrim Mass,” similar to the Mass pilgrims, upon reaching the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral attend in Spain, will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. The day will culminate with a worthy luncheon feast for all the hungry, but spirit-filled pilgrims.
Santiago de Compostela Catholic Church’s 4th Camino de Santiago event will begin early on the morning on Saturday, July 28. Registration is $15 per adult and $8 per child. To register: www.sdccatholic.org/camino-de-santiago.