Sunday, 22 May 2011

'The Way' - Pilgrimage Memories

The Camino, a collection of ancient medieval pilgrimage routes which weave through France and Spain and converge on the shrine of St James at Compostela, is the subject of a recently released film starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez, who also has a cameo part in the film.
Although we have travelled by plane to Santiago as a couple, my husband would have loved to walk the Camino.Now with a disabling knee injury preventing long bouts of walking this was a great alternative way to experience this particular pilgrimage. And we were not disappointed - beautiful Spanish vistas, close up views of Pamplona, Burgos and other towns, atmospheric shots like a candlelit cloister adapted for pilgrims to sleep in pepper the film. Sheen begins the Camino as a somewhat reluctant pilgrim and we also meet three others with their own individual reasons for walking the way. As we see the Botafumeiroa, the huge, famous thurible swinging to and fro above the high altar, in the closing scenes of the film, we know that pilgrimage does us good!
The film brought back memories for us. It was so reminiscent of a pilgrimage we made from Santander to Fatima with our two young daughters. We remembered the many and varied people we met on pilgrimage, the hardships and trials, the high spots and the sense of achievement on reaching a goal, both physical and spiritual. 
Families should go on Pilgrimage. There are many options around the world, but don't forget to look closer to home - in the UK there are many ancient routes and shrines and families could even create their own! 
In May the Holy Family Guild walk to a ruined medieval shrine of Our Lady at Jesmond in Newcastle. We walk across the Town Moor, through a local park and residential streets as we make our way, praying the rosary and adding hymns and a litany  when we arrive. It takes about an hour but it is a wonderful way to introduce young children especially to the idea of pilgrimage. Go to see the film if you wish but more importantly 'become a pilgrim'!

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