As one of the many pilgrims on the Road to Santiago last year, I was overjoyed to hear that the number of those going on this world-famous pilgrimage reached a new record in 2023. The trek to the burial place of Saint James the Apostle in Compostella, Spain, is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the world.
I believe this record shows how people are realizing that there is a great spiritual void in modern life. This journey, called the Camino, fills that emptiness with prayer, suffering, and joy.
A New Record
According to the official pilgrims’ office, 446,038 pilgrims completed the Camino de Santiago in 2023, setting a new record.
Most pilgrims came from Spain, followed by the United States, Italy, and Germany. More than half were foreigners.
Approximately 40% of the pilgrims were between 18 and 45 years old, and more than 75% did the Camino for some religious reason.
One of the Greatest Pilgrimages
The Camino de Santiago is officially declared one of the “three greatest pilgrimages of Christendom.” It leads pilgrims to the tomb of Saint James the Greater, where they can venerate his remains.
Although the goal of the pilgrimage is to reach Santiago, the journey also has its special beauty.
From experience, I can vouch that this pilgrimage serves as a Catholic retreat. It helped me step back from day-to-day life and put things in order. The times of silence made me reflect upon the graces I received and discern how to correspond to them.
The Camino also allowed me to make acts of reparation to God for the horrible sins and blasphemies committed in our depraved world.
I visited countless shrines, chapels, and churches, allowing me to pray along the way. I was with a group of Tradition Family Property Student Action volunteers, and so we took the time to pray the Rosary together thrice daily.
Our group also sang lively songs about the Catholic heroes from Spain, such as El Cid Campeador and King Saint Ferdinand III. These songs helped us keep a cheerful disposition and develop a greater love of the Catholic heroes who had walked the same path centuries ago.
As I arrived at my final destination, I began to see the majestic towers of the Cathedral appear on the horizon over the other buildings. I turned corner after corner until I was before the Cathedral’s façade. At first, I was speechless—I stood there and admired the sight I had just walked 133 miles over many days to visit.
After this, I entered the Cathedral and walked directly to the tomb of Saint James, where I knelt down and silently gave thanks for his help along the way.
The Need for More Records
More and more people are making this pilgrimage that helps them take a step back and put things in order.
The new record in 2023 shows that people are searching for something beyond themselves. Some are looking for answers to basic existential questions about the purpose and meaning of their lives. Most are looking for something to feed their souls. In the end, whether they know it or not, they are looking for God.
More than ever, what we need right now is more people praying and doing acts of reparation.
The Camino de Santiago serves as a way to better know, love and serve God. As the pilgrim walks his body to Santiago, he walks his soul to God.
For this reason, I recommend that everyone do the Camino de Santiago. I plan to do the Camino again this year with TFP volunteers in reparation for abortion, communism, the crisis in the Church, and many other intentions.
However, as we are full-time volunteers, we are in desperate need of funds. If you or anyone you know would like to help in our endeavor, please click here. We will keep you in our prayers as we walk to Santiago.