For first-time pilgrims, it’s easy to get consumed with the planning, training, packing, weighing, and repacking for the Camino. I hear many newbie pilgrims asking the same burning questions I had just five years ago about backpacks, blisters, and starting points. As I became comfortable with my gear and physical abilities, I became increasingly drawn to more spiritual preparations. Now, I love to integrate blessings before, during, and after the Camino.
Pre-Camino Shell Blessing
In Northern California, our chapter’s shell-blessing ceremony is nondenominational and usually takes place in early spring. Ritual offerings of a Camino shell to the departing pilgrims and the reading of the traditional pilgrim blessing, these ceremonies mark a rite of passage in a pilgrim’s journey.
If you happen to be at a regular church service anywhere in Europe, don’t be shy about asking for a Camino blessing, as priests are usually happy to oblige. Before starting my second Camino, I was at a regular Mass at Iglesia San Francisco in Ferrol. Because I asked for a blessing, I was invited to stay for a beautiful vespers service honoring the Virgin Mary as “the Queen of May.” Continue reading