In this post I will talk about the documents or certificates related to the completion of the Camino de Santiago.
Once you have decided which route you are going to do, the normal procedure that follow, it is to apply for the famous “Credential” (Pilgrim document).
The credential is the document that identifies you as pilgrim and allows you to stay at the many public or church shelters that are distributed along the way.
To request the credential document you have to contact to the various Associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago that are present in most provinces. Another way of requesting the document would be by going to a church and ask the parish assistance to request the document. A third option to request the Credential document is to apply for it at the starting point of your route, but if you are starting in a relatively small town, the town may not have a place authorized for this purpose, so it is always better to check it up before to avoid surprises.
The Credential is a small booklet filled with our personal details, our starting date and town. In addition to these information, there are some boxes with space for the shelters, churches, museums, bars and restaurants to stamp it to verify your pass through them and for you to remember the places you passed. Our app already includes a check in function that allows you to keep a record of the places that you have liked the most…. At Vojo we are already working on a ofical Virtual Credential Document that would allow you to receive virtual stamps and you would obtain it through our application. Meanwhile it is recommended that stamp your credential document at least twice a day, in addition to the shelter´stamp where are you going to spend the night, because a proper stamped credential document will give you access to one of the most desired documents by pilgrims: the Compostela.
As I mentioned before, the credential, as well as identify you as pilgrims and help you to get the pilgrims advantages with the accommodation, has a third and very important use: A well stamped credential document will allow you to apply for “La Compostela” at your arrival to Compostela Santiago. The Compostela is an official document issued by the church and certifying that completed the pilgrimage to the Apostle’s grave on foot, by bicycle or by horse, (which are the 3 accepted ways of doing El Camino), although this is an issue I will address in another of my posts, because in order to get the precious Compostela and be able to enjoy the benefits from its magnificent “power”, we have to pass the stamps test. These stamps are key!
A few meters away from the “Plaza del Obradoiro”, you can find the Pilgrim Office. At this office is where you have to present your credential document. Once all your stamps are verified they will give you La Compostela. The stamp checking is simple procedure and if you had take our advice and stamp the booklet at least 3 time a day, you will have no problems.
After waiting patiently in line, a volunteer will verify your credentials with particular attention to the starting and end date, checking that the dates are logically true and that we had not jumped any stage. Once the verification is finished, they will ask you a question that take many by surprise: “What is your reason for pilgrimage? I do not know if I should say this, because as I explained in another of my post (Why we do the pilgrimage?), there are many reasons to why people do the pilgrimage, but if you really want to get the Compostela, the answer has to be a religious reason. If you don´t give a religious answer, you will only receive another document called “La Bienvenida” (The Welcome), which is basically a document proving that have done the Camino de Santiago and welcomes you to the city.
Once the question is answered you have to wait for them to write the date of arrival , your name in a more than doubtful Latin, and the Compostela would be yours, and with that all your sins will be absolved.
If you pass the process of verification, your name will be included in the list of pilgrims to Santiago that day, so your name will be called out during the Pilgrim’s Mass (Timetable) which takes place daily at the cathedral.
If you want to attend to the Mass and enjoy the experience of seeing the botafumeiro flying over your head, I advise you should arrive at Santiago de Compostela early, so you have time to do all the paperwork and the opportunity to enjoy a quiet entrance to Santiago when the city is still waking up and there are no many people moving through the streets. It’s a really nice experience to enter the Plaza del Obradoiro virtually alone. If you want to do it this way I advise you to finish the stage to the Monte do Gozo the day before. Monte do Gozo is located about 5km from the capital, it is a high point with good visibility, which allow pilgrims a first view of the Cathedral of Santiago´s towers.. Legend explains that early pilgrims started to cry of the delight of the first sight of the cathedral, and that is where the name of the place come from. A few meters away from this point, alberge de Monte do Gozo is located. It has a restaurant, a small shop and facilities in a very good condition with a capacity for 3,000 people.
LA FINISTERRANA Y LA MUXIANA
The arrival at Santiago de Compostela to the apostle’s grave is the last step and the goal for the majority of walkers, however lately more and more people decide to continue walking driven by their own ideas and some historical facts.
Many historians and experts believed that the apostle is not the one buried in Compostela and the pilgrimage itself has a pagan origin that originated thousands of years prior to Christianity. Some experts believe that the origin of El Camino goes back to the most primitive tribes, Celtic peoples and nomadic peoples of central Europe that walk the north of the Iberian peninsula in search of the end of the world, where the sun went down every night to the depths of the underworld and returned to resurface every morning. This site was known as the Finis Terrae (Land’s End), or as we know it now Finisterre. This is reason the church does not give the official status of pilgrimage to the routes to these two magical places such as Cape Finisterre and the “Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Barca” in Muxía. You can find more information on these wonderful routes visiting our website where you can also download the routes and track yourself during the route is you decide give it a go.
If you have decided that your next steps must take you beyond Santiago, know that despite your “paganism”, Credential document continues to fulfill the same function, you will need it to be able to stay in the hostels and at your arrival to Finisterre or Muxía, you can apply for the Finisterrana and La muxiana respectively. Curiously, although the church does not support this two place as official pilgrimage routes, the certificates continue to have the colorful religious theme. Why?. As previously commented, it is proven that the origin of the Camino de Santiago dates well before the Christianity´ rise, but the church has been able to benefit from this strength and the thousands of years of tradition to prosper in the land of the northern of the Iberian peninsula.
I hope you all this information has been helpful and that you have been able to resolve any doubt.
Thank you and see you soon!!