If you are immersed in the world of El Camino de Santiago and you are keeping up to date about all the current events around it, I am sure that you have heard or read something about El Camino Uclés. This is a very peculiar route, not only because of the destination where it takes you but because of the person that has brought it back to life, he has managed to carve a niche to attract new pilgrims like with other of the classical routes.
Manuel Rossi is to Camino Uclés what Elías Valiña was to El Camino de Santiago. Manuel is a man devoted to El Camino Uclés, and never stops trying to improve it and showcase it. He does everything: he puts in practise ideas, signposts, builds, annonces and organises. He is very active on social platforms and very active in his day to day of this route, making new sign-postings, milestones or even painting the Cross of the order of Santiago along the way. Who has not come across a video of him making a cast, sanding a sign-post or drill in hand in the most pure DIY style?
Apart from looking after all the logistics of this newly recovered route, he uses his spare time to organise events such as the one last 31st of December in Santiago de Compostela, where he managed to gather hundreds of pilgrims at the pilgrim hostel of San Martín Pinario. This event had a charitable heart, to give the most impoverished children toys that pilgrims have brought themselves or that other organisations had donated for the cause. It was at this event that I had the chance to meet him.
He along with the Association of Friends of El Camino de Uclés have planned an event for the days 20th, 21st and 22nd of May. The “IV Encuentro Internacional Peregrinos Monasterio de Santiago Apóstol”(“The IV International Meeting of Pilgrims of the Monastery of the Apostle Saint James”. This event encompases different activities related to the world of the pilgrimage and they will be taking place around the town of Uclés (Cuenca) and the spectacular monastery that tops this hill town. It will be at the monastery itself where the attending pilgrims will be received and accommodated during the days of the planned event and programmed activities.
It is a good opportunity to discover this route that starts in the Church of Santiago in Madrid and that goes for 144 km until it reaches the monastery of Uclés, where the pilgrim will receive the “uclesiana” certificate. This monastery belong in the old days to the powerful order of the knights of Saint James of the sword. This order had a military and religious character, it was founded in the twelfth century with the aim to protect the pilgrims from the arab invaders of the Iberian peninsula, their recognisable emblem was a the red cross of Saint James. But do not think that this peregrination finishes here. In the same way that this can be the destination point, it can also be the starting point to reach Santiago de Compostela, Manuel has created himself the signposting to indicate the number of kilometres to the city of Compostela. For all these reasons and for the cultural value of this route, in Vojo we are working to incorporate this newly recovered and interesting route.
I would like to thank all the people that anonymously work tiredly like Manuel to rescue all these all routes that centuries ago linked towns, little hamlets, and cities together; they deserve to be known and valued for their significance.