Pilgrim Certificate / Compostela
The compostela is a certificate of accomplishment given to pilgrims on completing the Way. To earn the Compostela you need to walk a minimum of 100 km, cyclists must cycle at least 200 km.
For walkers, that would mean a starting point in the small city of Sarria, which has good transportation connections via bus and rail to other places in Spain.
Pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela who have walked at least the last 100 km, or cycled 200 km are eligible for a compostela from the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago.
The compostela has been customary since the Early Middle Ages.
The full text of the certificate is in Latin and reads:
CAPITULUM hujus Almae Apostolicae et Metropolitanae Ecclesiae Compostellanae sigilli Altaris Beati Jacobi Apostoli custos, ut omnibus Fidelibus et Perigrinis ex toto terrarum Orbe, devotionis affectu vel voti causa, ad limina Apostoli Nostri Hispaniarum Patroni ac Tutelaris SANCTI JACOBI convenientibus, authenticas visitationis litteras expediat, omnibus et singulis praesentes inspecturis, notum facit : (Latin version of your name) Hoc sacratissimum Templum pietatis causa devote visitasse. In quorum fidem praesentes litteras, sigillo ejusdem Sanctae Ecclesiae munitas, ei confero. Datum Compostellae die (day) mensis (month) anno Dni (year). Canonicus Deputatus pro Peregrinis
Translated into English it reads:
“The Chapter of this Holy Apostolic Metropolitan Cathedral of St. James, custodian of the seal of St. James’ Altar, to all faithful and pilgrims who come from everywhere over the world as an act of devotion, under vow or promise to the Apostle’s Tomb, our Patron and Protector of Spain, witnesses in the sight of all who read this document, that: (your name) has visited devoutly this Sacred Church in a religious sense. Witness whereof I hand this document over to him, authenticated by the seal of this Sacred Church. Given in St. James de Compostela on the (day)……(month)……(year)A.D. ……… .Chapter Secretary”
The pilgrim passport is examined carefully for stamps and dates. If a key stamp is missing, or if the pilgrim does not claim a religious purpose for their pilgrimage, the Compostela may be refused. The Pilgrim office of Santiago awards more than 100,000 Compostelas per year to pilgrims from over 100 countries.
Pilgrims who receive their Compostela the day before, have their countries of origin and the starting point of their pilgrimage announced at the Mass.
The musical and visual highlight of the mass is the synchronisation of the beautiful ‘Hymn to Christ’ with the spectacular swinging of the huge ‘Butafumeiro’.
It’s also worth nothing that your Compostela may be presented at the Parador Hotel de los Reyes Católicos who provide 10 free pilgrim meals three times a day. You will have to queue at the garage door, down the ramp to the left.
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