Friends of the Road to Santiago
Association of the United States of America


   Welcome to the web site of the American Association of Friends of the Road to Santiago. This web site is designed to help you learn about the American Association of Friends and to help you start making plans for the trek to Santiago. If you have made the pilgrimage already, Friends offers you a forum for keeping up with changes and events surrounding the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and for making contact with others who are pilgrims or are interested in the Council of Europe's First European Cultural Itinerary.

    Maryjane Dunn established Friends of the Road to Santiago in 1989 with the help of a small start-up grant from the Spanish Cultural Ministry's Program for Cultural Cooperation. Both she and Linda Davidson, the Association's Coordinator, have made the pilgrimage several times on foot and have co-authored several books on the subject. Christopher Hewitt became a part of the team as Assistant Editor and Webmaster in 1999. He has walked three different routes various times while researching and working on a bi-lingual guide about the "Via de la Plata: Camino Mozarabe".

Friends is a loosely organized group of people interested in the phenomenon of the pilgrimage. We are professors, physicians, students, business people, retirees, authors. What unites us is our curiosity about the pilgrim roads that funnel through all of Europe toward the northwest corner of Galicia. Our membership list includes pilgrims from Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, as well as the United States. Members of Friends are so dispersed that we do not normally have formal reunions. In the past, we have used modest annual dues to allow us to maintain the Association as a first-line research and information source on the pilgrimage.

    Our goal is to keep you informed of developments, research, and events that are pertinent to the historical or contemporary Pilgrimage to Compostela. Friends publishes a Newsletter that appears irregularly, generally twice a year. In the Newsletter we review new books, publish short articles, print parts of personal narratives, and announce interesting and germane conferences. There is a "Forum" section for news, queries, and announcements by members of Friends of the Road to Santiago. We answer your inquiries and put members in contact with each other. We try to answer any questions about the pilgrimage, and if we don't have complete information, we'll find the answers.

    As of October 1st, the Friends listserv, listserv@pete.uri.edu, will no longer be active. We will continue to maintain the wesite, but a new USA based Association of the Amigos del Camino de Santiago will be taking over most inquiries. When this information is available, it will be posted.

    If you are interested in making the pilgrimage, by car, bike, or on foot, we can facilitate your planning by suggesting suitable books and guides. You'll need a pilgrim's "passport" to ask for lodging in the many pilgrimage refugios, and for official registration in Compostela, and receipt of the Compostela. Friends offers the Association's own "Pilgrim's Passport" at no charge. The following pages contain a beginning reading list and some suggestions for your planning. More detailed information can be found in many places. We invite you to contact us for ideas and recommendations.

    Thanks for your interest in the Road to Santiago and in the United States Association of its Friends! We hope to hear from you soon.

Maryjane Dunn, Founder       Linda Davidson, Coordinator         Christopher Hewitt, Assistant Editor



 
The Pilgrim's Credential, or "Passport"

To gain admittance to refugios (hospices) along the Road, Pilgrims must present a credential to prove that they are hiking or biking the Road. Each day, as pilgrims pass through towns, they will receive one, sometimes two, stamps in the credential. At the end of the journey, in Santiago at the Oficina de Acogida de Peregrinos, pilgrims present the stamped credential to confirm that they have hiked at least the last 100 kilometers (or biked the last 200 kilometers of the Road), whereupon they receive a Compostela (sometimes Compostelana), proof of having made the pilgrimage.

Friends has been offering the Association's own "Pilgrim's Credential" since 1993. Friends' credentials are widely, and happily, accepted along the Road, showing that the Camino has gained a popular following throughout the world. Friends does not charge for the pilgrim credential, but donations are accepted to allay duplication and mailing expenses.
 



 
Making the Pilgrimage to Compostela

  "Fe riends of the Road to SantiagoEis glad to hear that you are considering making the pilgrimage to Santiago. It is an exciting, if grueling, trip. Keep in mind that the Route is generally marked with yellow arrows and sometimes with more substantial indicators. Most larger towns have some kind of establishment related to the pilgrimage, be it a refugio or an information office. "FriendsEdoes not publish maps or guides, but we have an extensive bibliography and a library of sources that we are happy to check for you. Most of our members have made the pilgrimage, on foot, in a car, or by bicycle. If we cannot find the answers, we will put you into contact with someone who can.

    1999 was a Holy Year and Santiago de Compostela was named European City for the year 2000. The pilgrim road in 1999 proved to be as popular as expected with well over 100,000 pilgrims making there way to Santiago de Compostela. While the numbers of pilgrims in subsequent years was not as high, you can always expect large numbers of pilgrims on the road. If you are planning a pilgrimage, especially in the months of July and August, consider carrying a light tent and always carry your own sleeping bag. It will facilitate your overnight arrangements immensely.

    If you are planning to walk through the Pyrenees during any time of the year, or through Spain in the months of December through April, bring some form of lightweight, yet warm/waterproof material. It does snow in Spain, especially in the Pyrenees, and it can get pretty frigid during the day.
 


Tour Groups: In the past few years some companies have developed tours that cover some portion of the Road and facilitate the pilgrim journey. These are commercial concerns whose expertise varies. We do not endorse these groups as we have had no experience with their tours. For those of you Familiar with Nancy Frey's work, Pilgrim's Stories, you will be happy to know that she leads tours through On Foot In Spain (www.onfootinspain.com). Two other American based tours are provided through Spanish Steps (www.spanishsteps.com), and Saranjan (www.saranjan.com).
 



 
Sources about the Camino de Santiago

The British Confraternity of St. James is a good, reliable source for materials and for written guides. You can either check their webite at http://www.csj.org.uk or contact Marion Marples, Secretary; Confraternity of St. James; 27 Blackfriars Road; London SE1 8NY, England.

    The Spanish National Tourist Office in New York (212 265-8822) has some brochures on the Road to Santiago and on the more important sites (such as Compostela, León, Burgos, Pamplona). Or write: Tourist Office, 666 5th Avenue, 35th Floor, NY, NY 10103. Be sure to mention the Camino de Santiago. They have been known to send a copy of Millan Bravo Lozano's A Practical Guide for Pilgrims: The Road to Santiago.

    The Madrid office of the Xunta de Galicia also has interesting materials. Contact them at this address: Casa de Galicia - Oficina de Información Turistica; Casado del Alisal 8; 28014 Madrid Spain.



 
Where to begin reading?

A tremendous amount of material is available about this pilgrimage. Some of it is purely reflective: the diary or narrative of a pilgrim, from as early as the 15th century to as late as 1997. Other materials are designed for the next pilgrims: guides, helps, information on refugios, etc. Some articles are purely touristy. Much is available on the history and meaning of the pilgrimage and its concomitant art, music, architecture, literature, and archaeology. Most of the materials exist in European languages, primarily Spanish and French. But there is a generous helping of all sorts of these works in English, which we focus on here. This list is designed as a starting point only.

    We hope these materials help you plan and make you as enthused about the trek as we are. If you would like recommendations about in-depth narratives or want more information about the history of the pilgrimage, just ask. Please let us know how else we can help you. Good luck in your planning!
 
 

Go to:
 Informational Sources
Includes:

Materials for the Interested Pilgrim
General interest articles
Planning the pilgrimage and knowing about the Routes to Compostela:
French Route, Silver Route, and Portuguese Route

In-depth materials
Bibliographies
From the 12th-century Liber Sancti Jacobi [English translations]
Studies about the Compostela pilgrimage
Diaries and Narratives

Bookstores in Spain

 



 
Go to:
World Wide Web Links
There are several Pilgrimage-related sites on the web. They vary from commercial to cultural. This listing is a beginning point for places to look. Note: we are finding that some web sites are being dismantled. Be prepared to encounter obselete addresses.



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This web site is supported by The Friends of the Road to Santiago and is a free web site provided by reocities.com



Maryjane Dunn, Founder                    Linda Davidson, Coordinator

        Christopher Hewitt, Assistant Editor and Web Page Designer