Different ways of being a pilgrim

At its 2017 AGM, the chairman of the (British) Confraternity of St James commented regretfully about the ‘ever-greater emphasis on tourism’ and the increasing commercialization of the Camino. Our little Emmaüs project tries to stand out against that trend. Nevertheless, we should not distinguish between tourists and ‘true’ pilgrims. We believe there is always some deeper interior movement, perhaps not even consciously acknowledged, that draws people to choose to walk this ancient Christian pilgrim route, when they could easily have chosen another path to follow. And all self-identify as ‘pilgrims’.

People pursue their pilgrimage in different ways. Some choose to walk the minimum distance to qualify for their Compostella. Many walk a section each year over several years. Some set off from their homes and continue to walk for months at a time. Some are determined to cover 30-35 km a day, others (as this group in our photo) prefer to walk just 13-14 km a day and to enjoy a leisurely lunch. And pilgrims stop at Emmaüs for many different reasons – just over the last few days: to have an early morning coffee, to take lunch in the sunshine, to use the toilet, to pray, to phone home, or even just out of curiosity.