MANIFESTO -Section 3: Tourism and Pilgrimage
What does ‘leisure culture’ mean?
Surely those people who visit the places on the Camino as Religious or Cultural tourists (as pilgrims do to Fatima, Lourdes, Rome or the Holy Land) can’t really be the cause of “vulgarity and the loss of the unique spirit and values historically associated with the Jacobean Way.”
(Photos from Wikipedia)
Do they mean pilgrims or people who walk the Camino but don’t stay in albergues or carry backpacks?
That is what I have done for the past 4 years and there is nothing leisurely about walking a Camino! Even if you stay in hotels and have your luggage transported between towns you still have to walk the same rocky paths, in the wind, sun or rain and eat pilgrim food like all the other people on the trail. You risk the same blisters, tendonitis, shin-splints and muscle cramps.
Do they mean people who take groups of pilgrims on the Camino? If you've never walked in those shoes you have no idea how challenging that can be! There have always been 'tour groups' of pilgrims from the first Confraternities to the Knights of Santiago who appointed dozens of people from other countries as official pilgrims guides. (Like Saint Bona of Pisa: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bona_of_Pisa )
As far as the Roman Catholic
Church is concerned anyone who arrives at the tomb of St James in reverence and
prayer is a pilgrim. The way they get there
is irrelevant. The cathedral recorded 12 million pilgrims in 2010. This is the total number of people who entererd
the cathedral during the year for religious reasons. The cathedral
uses three traditional methods for
- The number of those who go through the Holy Door on the east side of the Cathedral
- The number of devotional cards issued to anyone who puts a donation in the alms box receives a card.
- The number of donated communions during the Holy Mass in the Cathedral.
Really? I really have a problem with this statement!
The Jacobean Way was never sacrosanct. It attracted much more than just pious, holy and saintly pilgrims. Anyone who has read the Liber Sancti Jacobi or any other medieval pilgrim stories will be all too familiar with tales of false pilgrims, thieves, bandits, murderers, vagabonds, heretics, criminal penitents and the vain! The medieval Jacobean Way and medieval pilgrims are not shining examples for 21st century pilgrims.
In 1523 the city council of Bern, which lay on the pilgrim route from Einsiedeln to France decided, to direct away all beggars, be they from the country, returning from the wars or pilgrims on the road to St. James, pedlars, heathens... and such like and not to house them or give them shelter.
Local by-laws throughout Europe, eg in Douai, in Compostela itself (1503) or in Tyrol province in 1532 reflected the same tendency.”
Imagine that, pilgrims not being offered shelter, even in Compostela!
I doubt our private albergue owners are anything as bad as the swindling inn keepers, toll road cheats, murderous tavern owners, false priests, prostitutes, horny young ladies who provided the basis for a legend about chickens miraculously come back to life. Touts that met pilgrims on the road selling trinkets and souvenirs or trying to con the pilgrims into paying for rooms in already overcrowded inns. And the beggars who walked the Camino on behalf of the penitential pilgrims.
And how are we to judge or condemn the pilgrim who artlessly tells us how to say "pretty maid, come sleep with me" in the Basque language (A von Harff).
Another new type of pilgrim was the prosperous patricians ... for whom a pilgrimage to Compostela took its place in a journey of information and instruction, a journey on which it was not uncommon to look after business interests too, as did Nicolas Rummel of Nuremberg in 1408/09.”
The ‘Camino’ today (and the person who walks it) is probably more pure, more honest, and the path more sanctified than it has ever been. There are very few bandits, criminals or murderers lying in wait for unsuspecting pilgrims. Some restaurants or hotels might overcharge but you don't ever feel that your life is in danger when you stay there!
The great majority of today’s pilgrims – and tourogrinos – are not prompted by a multitude of sins to walk to Santiago. What’s more, they don’t walk in expectation of rewards as did their medieval counterparts. Many of us have to take at least 4 flights, over 24 hours, at great expense, just to get to Spain and start walking. And then we do it all over again to get back home. Surely this makes us even more admirable - all that effort and suffering for no reward!
Are they?The first ‘European Cultural Route’ has always been marketed as a tourism product. Right from the outset the Council of Europe was quite clear that their work was not aimed only at pilgrims but at tourism too.
“The underlying purpose of the process initiated by the Council of Europe: to bring out the historical and cultural contribution made by this pilgrimage movement to the forging of the European cultural identity. The set of principles and values which represent a heritage common to European nations whatever their geographical location, whether or not these routes pass through them. For this reason, our work is aimed not only at the pilgrims, who are guided by spiritual motives, but also at those expressing cultural practices peculiar to our own age and society.
[I stressed words in bold]
Loci Iacobi, a European Union project, aims to develop the pilgrims’ trails of Saint James as a European tourism product and to consolidate it as the first European Cultural Itinerary through the creation and promotion of new tourism contents of high add-value for tourists (and other tourism stakeholders) and through the introduction of the new technologies of information and communication in their consumption" http://www.saintjamesway.eu//chemins-de-compostelle/loci-iacobi-dr37.html
The pilgrimage road to Santiago has always brought riches and power, especially to Compostela.
"Indeed, for many centuries, it would seem that the chief purpose of St. James was to draw the sin-smitten and disease-afflicted people of Christendom to this distant and secluded part of the world, solely for their spiritual or physical good. Other benefits followed. The constant and increasing flow of pilgrims enriched Compostella, added power and dignity to its rulers, and helped Spain to gain that position in Europe which for no mean length of time made her mighty among the nations."
Rev James Stone - The Cult of Santiago 1927
Is marketing the Camino as a tourism project such a bad thing?
This is like the tail wagging the dog!
I believe that marketing the Santiago de Compostela route to cultural and religious tourists came first, with walking pilgrims following afterwards. (Not the other way around)
Less than 150 years ago, in the Holy Year of 1867, just 40 pilgrims turned up to celebrate the saint's feast day mass on the 25th July.
The late Don Jaime of the Pilgrims Office found an old record book kept by his predecessor which showed that 37 pilgrims received the Compostela in 1967.
“In the 1970’s there survived only a remote memory of the Jacobean pilgrimage” wrote Don Elias Valiña Sampedro (father of the modern Camino). But, he also predicted the invasion!
"Identification!" barked the Guardia.
"I'm Don Elías Valiña Sampedro, parish priest of O Cebreiro in Galicia."
"And what are you doing with all this?"
"Preparing a great invasion…"
In a previous post I mentioned the road map of the five road routes that lead tourists and tourist-pilgrims, by road, to Santiago which were published for the 1954 Holy Year. A concertina style credential was issued, with blank squares so that travelers could obtain a stamp at the places they stopped at along the road and earn a diploma when they arrived in Santiago. This was clearly aimed at people travelling by motor vehicle and not the foot pilgrims (if there were any.)
(Does'nt this tell us that the tourists came first and then the pilgrims followed?)
How do they propose to stop or monitor websites like this one?
(Note especially, the reference to ‘spiritual routes’. Spiritual Tourism is the new big thing in tourism.)
“The Secretary of State for Tourism of Spain, Isabel Borrego, recalled that “the city of Santiago de Compostela is a reference for religious tourism in Spain. To visit its historic centre, a UNESCO Heritage Site, and walk the Santiago path are unique experiences. Spain has much to offer in terms of religious tourism”: Santiago, intense pilgrimages and religious celebrations, important monasteries and cathedrals and many religious festivities of great interest.”
“To encourage new initiatives and the creation of international networks that foster the exchange of experiences at the level of research, training of tourism professionals, promotion, marketing and the management of pilgrimage routes and sites, that engage faith groups and local communities as equal partners in developing spiritual tourism in a sustainable manner.”
(".... faith groups and local communities?" Why were the local guardians of the Camino - AMIGIOS and FICS - not represented at this Congress?)
Perhaps bymarketing the pilgrimage as a cultural, spiritual and religious destination for tourists and pilgrims, the Camino might one day change the world!