The Camino by Brendan O’Mahony

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Brendan O’Mahony wrote the book Forever Young for his late son Conor. See his post from March titled Forever Young. Brendan has signed up to walk the Camino for CRY again in September. Here are some extracts about the Camino de Santiago.


The Camino.

On July 17th 2010, I walked the Camino Ingles from Ferrol to Santiago (120km) in Spain. The walk was in memory our son Conor who was 32 when he died of (SCD) on July 25th. 2006. Holy Year was to be celebrated in Santiago on July 25th the same day as Conor’s anniversary. At a family gathering we decided we would raise sponsorship for CRY. Cry are organising a walk on the  Camino Frances (French Way ) in September next which offers an opportunity to anyone interested in walking the Camino and raising sponsorship to join in. (Details on the CRY Website I would urge anyone with a reasonable level of fitness to go. The rewards are immence.


We are told that walking is good for us.  I can confirm that walking the Camino in particularly is good and is a unique and rewarding experience. While you are walking you will have time to think, reflect, assess and walk! The mantra of the Camino is : Eat, walk, sleep. But I found it much more than that. I had a reason for walking, and though I didn’t set out to be a pilgrim, I became one along the way.


A little history of The Camino. Pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, from Ireland began in the 12th century. In 1147 crusaders en route to the Holy Land, helped the king of Portugal to reconquer Lisbon from the Moors. They then  visited the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. While The Hundred Years War raged between France and England during the 14th and 15th centuries, Irish pilgrims travelled to Santiago by boat. There were voyages from Dublin and Dingle, where a plaque on the quay records pilgrim departures. The presence of Irish pilgrims in Santiago is well-documented


The Camino de Santiago is a dynamic mixture of legend and fact. St. James, whose shrine is at Santiago, was the brother of John the Evangelist. They were fishermen, the sons of Zebedee, partners with Simon Peter, and called by Jesus to join him while mending their nets beside the Sea of Galilee. It’s said that Jesus nicknamed them ‘the sons of thunder’ – justified by the story that they once wished to call down fire from heaven to destroy a village which had refused them hospitality. James and John were present at the raising of Jairus’s daughter and were at the Sermon on the Mount. They are recorded as being with Peter, at the Transfiguration. James was also in The Garden of Gethsemane during the passion of Christ. They were also among those gathered in the upper room after the ascension


Santiago is known as James the Great and when the Apostles divided the known world into missionary zones, The Iberian Peninsula fell to James. Spain was a well-established in the Roman world. When he returned to the Holy Land he was beheaded by Herod Agrippa 1. According to legend, Santiago’s disciples took his body back to Spain after his death. During the voyage, a ship is said to have miraculously appeared, and an angel guided them. They buried the saint in the area known as Compostela, ‘the field of stars,’ and Santiago lay here, for eight centuries.


The rediscovery of the saint’s long-forgotten tomb in the 9th Century occurred in a time of great need for Spanish Catholics. They had suffered many defeats at the hands of the Muslims, until Santiago became their inspiration. The pivotal event in – came in the battle of Clavijo in 844. The night before the battle, Santiago appeared in a dream to King Ramirez of Castile, and promised him victory. The next day, the warrior-saint is said to have appeared on the battlefield in full armour riding on a white charger, with a sword in one hand and a banner in the other. The Christians won a decisive victory.Contemporaries were in no doubt that Santiago had appeared because he left behind impressions of scallop shells (his symbol as the pilgrim saint) on the rocks in the field and even on the local houses.


 King Alfonso II declared Santiago the patron of Spain in 1492. He worked to publicise the Camino to attract Christians to his territory. And so the pilgrimages began. The Camino became an important path for Catholic indulgences and total absolution from sin, reaching its greatest point of popularity during the Middle Ages.

You can read Brendan O’Mahony’s book called Forever Young – contact CRY to buy a copy.

If you would like to learn about CRY, find out more about our services or participate in a fundraising activity please contact me or check our website.





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