After a three-month closure, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela has reopened its doors, inviting pilgrims to walk the Camino de Santiago once again.
The cathedral, pilgrim welcome center, and public hostels along the Spanish pilgrimage route reopened on July 1 after closing its doors to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease. (Read: Jodi Sta. Maria’s Travel Tips for the Holy Land)
The July 1 reopening of the famous pilgrimage site follows the European Union’s decision to allow tourists to visit its 27 member states, including Canada, Australia, and South Korea. The decision excludes the United States.
Up to 75 people at a time are allowed to attend Masses at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. This is to facilitate social distancing requirements. The tomb of St. James the Apostle is open for veneration between 9 am and 7 pm every day. However, the traditional embrace of the statue is prohibited for the safety of the pilgrims. (Read: ‘Strict social distancing’ shall be observed during Mass – CBCP)
The Santiago Cathedral museum has also reopened and offers tours of the cathedral’s 16-century cloisters.
The Way of St. James
The Camino de Santiago, or the “Way of St. James,” is an ancient pilgrimage route that draws hundreds of thousands of international pilgrims each year. It consists of a network for trails across Europe leading to the tomb of St. James in Spain. (Read: Lourdes, France: The Most Famous Healing Shrine in the World)
Pilgrims have been traveling to Santiago de Compostela for more than a thousand years to commemorate the life and sacrifice of St. James. Though it is a religious pilgrimage, many non-believers have also made the trek.
To officially complete the Camino de Santiago, pilgrims are required to complete at least 100 kilometers—some prefer to walk while others ride a bicycle. The most popular route begins in France and crosses into Spain.
St. James is the brother of John the Evangelist and was the first apostle to be martyred. He is the patron saint of pilgrims and of Spain.