(Originally posted on 23 August 2016)
St. Jean Pied-de-Port/Roncisvalle
Pilgrims arriving to Roncisvalle are used to receiving a special, multilingual blessing after the 8 o’clock mass. At the end of the day, El Camino is traditionally a Christian path, and some rituals are typical of the Christian (especially Catholic) tradition: the blessing at Roncisvalle, the stone left at the Cruz de Hierro, the hug to the statue of the Apostle James and the mass with the Botafumeiro in Santiago de Compostela.
However, one of the things I like the most about this path is that, unlike other pilgrimages (Rome, Jerusalem, La Mecca etc.), people from every background possible have come to participate in the Camino and the rituals preceding it. I have personally met Muslims, Jewish, Atheists and Agnostics in these rituals, making them a global treasure.
During my first experience of the Camino, I did not receive the blessing until the third day. My flight to Lyon had been delayed and therefore I had to start in the afternoon and arrive to Roncisvalle around midnight, way past the daily mass. On the third day, realizing that I had missed something significant, I asked a priest to provide me with an individual blessing and thanked him for the special favor. But it was not the same, so I promised myself that - this time, I would do all my best to arrive on time and receive the blessing where it’s supposed to be conferred.
Such insistence might sound silly or unnecessary to an outsider, but when you feel such a pain on the shoulders and the knees, you need to rely on everything that offers a little bit of hope. Prayers, blessings and rituals form a mixture of belief, tradition and superstition that it is difficult to explain. And it’s something I truly love.
Maybe the heart of the pilgrim already knows that all these positive feelings are shaping our future. If this is true, as I believe, I truly hope that quantum physics will soon confirm this, so that we can all begin to act according to that perspective...