Welcome to our virtual pilgrimage, we journeyed the ancient 480-mile Camino de Santiago from France to Spain!  Our Weekly Journal updates are below – Enjoy! 

A summary of our trip is here in a short video:  Camino Video

“There are no guarantees in this life and a pilgrim is well served by offering gratitude for all experiences encountered along the path.” — John Brierley, “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago” 

Notes from our Book Club’s reading of “Walk In A Relaxed Manner – Life Lessons from the Camino” are also below, and worth reading!


  1. Session One – Notes:  Click Here/Introduction to Chapter 2  and Reflection Card: Rid Yourself of Weeds
  2. Session Two:  Click Here / Chapters 3 – 6 
  3. Session Three:  Click Here / Chapters 7 – 10 
  4. Session Four:  Click Here / Chapters 11 – 15
  5. Session Five:  Click Here / Chapters 16 – 20
  6. Session Six:  Click Here Chapters 21 – 25

We have reached our pilgrimage destination, allowing us to spend time giving personal thanks to our patron, St. James, the Apostle.  Our visit to the Catedral Santiago (which holds an honors the relics of St. James) and Santiago de Compostela, the town where the Catedral Santiago (Cathedral, St. James) is were wonderful visits.  And, we found that Santiago de Compostela is already celebrating Mardi Gras (‘Carnaval’) – we didn’t realize that they start 4 days before Ash Wednesday.  Another unexpected treat!  Indeed, it’s time to celebrate.  483 miles.  When we started we earnestly had no idea what to expect.  It has been interesting, beautiful, full of surprises, and spiritually enriching.  In many ways we are at a new place than where we were when we started.  As one pilgrim shared with us: se resuelve caminando, it is solved by walking.  We hope you have found it the same.  

We have an exciting journal update this week (attached)!  We won’t reveal anything other than to say that we feel the joy building that millions of pilgrims before us have felt!

More unexpected surprises this week!  We visited a hilltop fortress that was active from 4C. B.C. to 1 A.D. – excavations have recently begun; check out the aerial view!  Battles; streetside crosses from ancient times, an amazing local meal, and a town that was home to the last of the militant Arian heretic leaders.  More legends, martyrs, simple village churches, and ancient art.
Andrew Puntel & Guna Pantele bring our Santa Maria del Camino hymn to life for us!  Click here: http://bit.ly/2MzOGN3SantaMariaDelCaminoHymn 


We visited villages with their own unique churches and customs, including honor-based snack tables offering local fare along the pathways, unusual granaries on stilts, a town that relocated it’s most important historic buildings (mostly churches), stone by stone, uphill to save them from the impact of a new dam constructed in the 1950s, and the cutest donkeys (they really made us smile).  Importantly, we learned a new hymn, Santa Maria del Camino.  We made a prayer card for you, it is in our Journal Update and will be our theme song as we journey our final miles.

Our path took us through small towns and the tiniest chapel on the Camino, plus a stay at a monastery; pigs with floppy ears and a town that has a pork festival!

We visited a fascinating natural area.  Then onto the third highest peak on the Camino.  We even saw a Eucharistic Miracle (not actually happen, of course, but the results of one)!!

This week we had an unexpected treat — we were able to see manuscripts that are nearly 1,000 years old.  They are GORGEOUS.  We tasted a wine of a grape variety only grown in this area.  Unbelievably, we managed to time our arrival in Villafranca for the opening of a Holy Door — we could not have planned these, a true gifts for sure!  Other surprises too.  These really helped us to get ready for our big climb this coming week.

Another interesting week on the Camino! We learned about a legend involving St. Joseph (cool — since Pope Francis proclaimed this the Year of St. Joseph!) and the wild dogs of Foncebadon! We visited 4,000—5,000 year old petroglyphs (carvings/inscriptions in rock). And, vespers with the monks, including a special blessing of the stones we brought with us… and placing them at the highest point on the Camino (we made it!) — the Cruz de Ferro.
Christmas at St. Nicholas church (not kidding!) and preparation for New Year’s – Spanish style.

What a fun week – A queen does battle with her husband, the king!  Local life continues to delight.  And, Astorga – wonderful Astorga.  Who knew this was such a gem of a town.  Enjoy!

We stayed in the wonderful town of León for diverse experiences!  Then we headed out to visit a nearby town, La Virgen del Camino.  Finally, we learned about St. Edmond’s Home, a beneficiary of our Camino Pilgrimage fundraiser.

Our week was filled with amazing visits — to museums, churches and the gorgeous town of León.  We were so inspired and excited with this town that we have decided to stay longer!  At the end of the week, we were able to celebrate Spain’s Constitution Day, December 6th!

This week we learned about the tie between The Milky Way and El Camino de Santiago; we visit a town where a meteorite landed; we find that Elvis is alive and well on the Camino (sort of) and finally, we visit a town that honors the Virgin of Grace every first Sunday of September with a communal pilgrimage!

This week we reached the Half-Way Point of the Camino, congratulations!  We learned about the Knights Templar, visit small towns and enjoy the many churches of Sahagún.

This week we reached the geographic center of our Camino, congratulations!  We share a real pilgrim’s journal entry — it captures what it’s like to be on the Camino Pilgrimage; savor it.  This week we visited churches with very ‘real’ depictions of Jesus on the Cross and saw an amazingly well preserved Roman villa and farm.

Healing waters, healing bread… and a family murder.  Another interesting week on the Camino.

Canals and castles… a low-key week on the Camino yet still filled with interesting finds!

A unique week!  All Saints’ Day in Spain – wow – inspiring.  Also a visit to the larger town of Burgos and the amazing and huge Catedral de Santa Maria.  And then the exploration of our human ancestors… from up to 1.5 million years ago.  Amazing.  Then, back on the Camino to the tiny village of Hornillos.

We have walked 161.4 miles!  This week was spent in several small towns, each with isr own unique story.  The highlight, though was in the hamlet of San Juan de la Ortega where we saw carvings related to the annunciation and birth of Christ.  But, whose architect designed them to be lit up by natural sunlight two times in the year — at the spring and autumn equinoxes!

We have walked 132.4 miles!  We enjoyed Spain’s National Day, several amazing small towns and hidden gems.  Najera was a wonderful town with a pimiento pepper festival in the works — a falcon and dove are at the roots of this town.  Santo Domingo’s roosters & hens are behind the miracle here.  Finally, all about the Navarre Bible and reflections from pilgrims along the way.

SJN Camino Pilgrimage:  We walked 30.6 miles and our total is now 101.2 miles! We happened upon a wedding in an old castle, visited a gorgeous Baroque church in Los Arcos, beautiful art and learned the Game of Goose! 

SJN Camino Pilgrimage:  We walked 13.6 miles and our total is now 70.6 miles! Our journey took us on a 2,000 year old Roman Road and we learned about the Black Madonnas of Europe, saints and even a wine fountain.  We were warned of more dangers for pilgrims!

SJN Camino Pilgrimage:  We walked 14.8 miles and our total is now 57 miles!  We stayed on in Pamplona for the gorgeous cathedral there and to learn about St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose faith journey began in Pamplona.  Then we headed to the “Mount of Forgiveness”!  It was a great week!

SJN Camino Pilgrimage:  We walked a short distance of 13 miles as we left the Pyrenees behind us and passed through fields and meadows, arriving at Pamplona — just in time for the festival of San Fermin.  We know you know a bit about this festival… it involves bulls!

2020-09-20 - Pamplona Pg2
2020-09-20 - Pamplona Pg1

SJN Camino Pilgrimage: We walked 29.2 miles this week.  Up, up, up in the Pyrenees.   Then back down where we arrived at Roncesvalles for an amazing visit at an old Monastery. 

We began learning about our patron, St. James the Apostle. 

Upon arrival in Roncesvalles, we found out that Martin Sheen filmed part of his movie, “The Way” here.  We recommend watching this movie!! 

Finally, we learned about Dawn’s Place, one of the beneficiary organizations for the fundraising part of our pilgrimage.

2020-09-13 - Roncesvalles-Zubiri Pg3
2020-09-13 - Roncesvalles-Zubiri Pg1

SJN Camino Pilgrimage: We Begin.  

A special message from Msgr. Matz is included.

2020-09-07 - St Jean Pied de Port Pg2
2020-09-07 - St Jean Pied de Port Pg1
  • Sunday, 9/6/2020:  We’ll journey to our starting point, St. Jean Pied de Port in France.  We look forward to seeing you there for our start on Labor Day, Monday, September 7th!  Pick up your Pilgrim Passport!  Email your tour guides at camino@sjnparish.org  — send your photo (we’ll crop as needed) and name.  This info will not be shared with anyone else.  Your passport will be updated with stamps as you report progress to us.

Your tour guides arrived at the Madrid airport in Spain.  We stopped at Zaragoza on our travel to the pilgrimage starting point.  Zaragoza is the location of the apparition site of Our Lady of the Pillar — the first apparition of Our Lady… to St. James!!   

2020-09-05 - Arrival in Spain p2
2020-09-05 - Arrival in Spain p1
HELPFUL TOOLS — Click on the links below:
  • Camino Flyer    – Learn more!
  • Pilgrim Sign-up   – There is no cost to participate!
  • Sponsor a Pilgrim: Sign Up    – Not ready to be a pilgrim but interested in supporting one?  $0.05/mile = $24, $0.25/mile = $120, if your pilgrim completes all 480 miles… some may participate for a shorter distance.
  • Activities-to-Miles Conversion Chart   – Our Conversion Chart includes prayer, spiritual reading and volunteering in addition to fitness activities to accumulate miles.  To use the online fitness tracker with virtual street views and other perks, sign up at https://www.theconqueror.events/camino/   The ‘Conquerer’ online cost is $40/person after tax.
  • Example Pilgrim Passport  –  Your photo will remain private to you unless we expressly ask for, and receive from you, a signed a consent to share.
  • Example Letter to Potential Sponsors  – An example to help reach out to prospective sponsors.
  • All donations received from supporters are tax-deductible. A form that confirms sponsor donations will be available for sponsors, please contact camino@sjnparish.org