Journeys of Faith
"Christianity isn’t just a theory people speak and write about; it’s a way of life".
For centuries, Christians have walked ancient pilgrimage routes to the sacred sites of Christendom. It’s not surprising that the most popular has always been the Holy Land, where pilgrims can walk in the footsteps of Jesus. As the home of the pope and the final resting place for Saints Peter and Paul and countless early martyrs, Rome has also been an important destiny. Spain’s Santiago de Compostela, considered to be the burial site of St. James the Apostle, is third in popularity. The tradition holds that after he was martyred, his disciples brought his body by boat to Spain. His story and place of burial were lost to history until the ninth century, when a hermit noticed a bright light shining in a field. He alerted the local bishop. A star guided them to St. James’s body, which has been venerated there ever since.
All but abandoned in the twentieth century, Santiago has become a favored pilgrims’ site as more and more people walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela or the Way of St. James. It’s not exclusively for Catholics: Numerous members of other Christian denominations and other faiths as well as agnostics and atheists walk the Way of St. James. Some want to prove they can walk the 500 miles; others want to see the beautiful architecture along the route; some are trying to make sense of a traumatic life experience; and, of course, many walk the Way of St. James out of religious conviction.