This "virtual Camino" uses online street view, postcards, and an interactive, real-time map to help you walk the world's most famous pilgrimage route.
The Camino de Santiago is the most famous pilgrimage route in the world, and for good reason. Since the 9th century, countless pilgrims have walked its 480 miles (772 km) to the Shrine of St. James the Apostle, in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Thousands of people plan to make this pilgrimage each year, especially in the summer. This year, the pandemic-related travel restrictions have upended those plans. But a virtual Camino challenge is making it possible for people all over the world to “walk the Camino,” from wherever they are.
Signing up for the challenge includes the following benefits:
- Virtual postcards along the journey
- Ability to track your progress through an interactive map on web or mobile app
- Street view of your virtual location
- Finisher’s medal upon completion
- Personalized digital certificate of completion
One of the Camino pilgrims-from-home is Katie Murphy, a Wisconsin mom who homeschools her six children. She decided to do the challenge as a way to bring together her interest in the Camino and her love for running.
“I have always wanted to complete the real Camino as a pilgrimage,” she said. “I’ve read Fr Dave Pivonka’s book about his experience on the Camino and I have watched the movie The Way.”
With six children at home, Murphy says she’s not in a phase of life to complete the real Camino, but the virtual one intrigued her. When a friend sent her information about it, she thought it would be a wonderful way to experience the Camino without traveling to Spain. The challenge would also encourage and motivate her as a runner.
“I love to run,” she said, “so this is perfect to challenge me to get a lot of miles in for exercise as well.”
Even from home, the challenge can be a real spiritual journey, as pilgrims undertake prayers and devotions. Murphy makes a point to pray for specific intentions on her Camino.
“I have asked friends via social media for prayer petitions,” Murphy said, “and I intentionally pray for those who have asked for prayers while I am completing the miles.”
She’s greatly enjoyed the virtual Camino, and for anyone interested in signing up, she has these words of encouragement:
If you are even considering doing the challenge, just dive right in and sign up! It is far better organized and interactive than I even hoped it would be. It is a great way to challenge yourself physically and spiritually. I have enjoyed receiving the postcards with more detailed information of where I am on my journey. And I love being able to see where I am on the real Camino via the interactive maps. It is also pretty neat to see how many other people are on the journey too.
The virtual Camino can be a source of reflection and physical and spiritual growth, even without leaving your hometown.
“I think so many people feel burdened by the weight of all that has been happening in our nation over the last few months,” Murphy said,.”This challenge is a great way to refocus spiritually and physically.”