The Camino de Santiago is a 600 mile trail through France and northern Spain that ends at the burial place of the Apostle James in Galicia Spain. Each year, more than 300,000 people from around the world make this spiritual pilgrimage.
Some of the characters in Ken Follett’s best selling books “Pillars of the Earth” and “World Without End” have traveled the Camino Trail.
You might have seen the 2011 movie starring Martin Sheen called “The Way.” I love anything with Martin Sheen and this movie is no exception, especially because it was shot on location along the Camino de Santiago.
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Traveling the Camino de Santiago
When I met 63-year-old Josef Heiler from Munich Germany, he was on his fourth pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago,
The peace that emanated from his face, his eyes, his being was notable and slightly contagious. Although he had miles to go before he slept, Josef was unhurried and talked with me for quite some time. Of course my first question was, “why” and then “why four times.”
Josef didn’t have an answer for that question. He told me that when he began the journey the first time, he kept a diary and began the first page on of the first day trying to answer that question for himself.
After four times along the 600-mile journey, he still doesn’t have an answer. The first page in his diary remains empty. But he says he finds a peace on the trail that has not been available anywhere else in his world. It carries him through other more hectic days of his life as an IT specialist.
The Chapel of Santa Maria de Eunate
Josef and I talked while we walked around the Chapel of Santa Maria de Eunate in Puenta la Reina, just west of Pamplona, Spain. The eight-sided chapel is a bit of a mystery. It is believed it could have been built by the Knight’s Templar or it might have served hundreds of years ago as a hospital for pilgrims on the trail.
Either way, it’s considered a particularly spiritual place because this is where many routes of the Camino Trail come together before heading on to Galicia.
Much of the trail is accessible only to those traveling by foot, but the Chapel is one of those places where those traveling by automobile can stop and worship as well. That’s how I arrived – by automobile.
I know several people who have traveled long parts of the trail. My good friend Melanie McManus is among them. You might enjoy reading her trail journals along the Via de la Plata.
I’m not at that point in my life where the trail has required my spirit. However, after talking with Josef and witnessing the serenity in his journey, and the passion of so many others we met along the way, it’s fair to say that the Camino Trail has captured my heart. Maybe one day, the rest of my body will go along for the journey.