Message from Mandy
I thank all the pilgrims for their contributions to the blog, with fantastic photos, words and inspiration, fellowship, and support. All us pilgrims give a huge thanks to the blogger for his witty observations and quotations and his skill with the written word. As the hymn One More Step Along the Road I Go echoes in our ears we start our journey home.
Monday. The pilgrimage finished, our pilgrims were up habitually bright and early, refreshed and revitalised, ready to realise the enormity of their achievement. Some of them spent the day learning about Santiago and St James and the many, many traditions that have grown up around this area, while some traveled on to Finisterre to see the end of the known earth (finis terrea – end of the earth).
Hover over images for captions, or click for slideshow.
The scallop shells pictured at the top of this post are significant for a number of reasons. Many pilgrims see the lines on the scallop shell as a reflection of the Camino de Santiago – many paths leading to one point. Beyond this, the shell, often found on the shores in Galicia, has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Over the centuries it has taken on a variety of meanings, metaphorical, practical, and mythical.
The most common myth about the origin of the symbol concerns the death of Saint James, who was martyred by beheading in Jerusalem in 44 AD. According to Spanish legends, he had spent time preaching the gospel in Spain, but returned to Judaea upon seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary on the bank of the Ebro River.
- The myth: After James’s death, his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. Off the coast of Spain, a heavy storm hit the ship, and the body was lost to the ocean. After some time, however, it washed ashore undamaged, covered in scallops.
From its connection to the Camino, the scallop shell came to represent pilgrimage, both to a specific shrine as well as heaven, recalling Hebrews 11:13, identifying that Christians “are pilgrims and strangers on the earth”.
As the symbol of the Camino de Santiago, the shell is seen very frequently along the trails. The shell is seen on posts and signs along the Camino in order to guide pilgrims along the way. The shell is even more commonly seen on the pilgrims themselves. Wearing a shell denotes that one is a traveler on the Camino de Santiago. Most pilgrims receive a shell at the beginning of their journey and either attach it to them by sewing it onto their clothes or wearing it around their neck or by simply keeping it in their backpack.
The scallop shell also served practical purposes for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl.
During the medieval period, the shell was proof of completion rather than a symbol worn during the pilgrimage.
Our pilgrims shared a last meal together to mark the end of their pilgrimage in Spain before parting ways. Going forth with the memory of the last week ever in their hearts.
Thanks for reading. Well done pilgrims!