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Finis Terrae

Once in Santiago, we hurried to the Cathedral, to finally meet the Apostle; to talk to him and confide our heart in him, our hopes, prayers, and fears.

We had a lot to ask, but a lot as well for which to say, thank you.

Mass was about to start, so we stayed. As soon as it finished, we walked to the Pilgrims Office to get our Compostelana filled out with our names signed and stamped. It certifies that we walked to the tomb of Saint James pietatis causa, that is, because of religious devotion. I am very happy I got my Compostelana. I will proudly present it when I hopefully reach the gates of heaven. You know, just in case.

We then spent the few days left wandering and enjoying the old city and all of its monuments. Since we had time, we decided to visit Cabo Finisterre, which is a small rocky peninsula west of Santiago, on the Atlantic Ocean. The names comes from Latin, finis terrae, which means, “the end of the world” in ancient and medieval times it was indeed thought to be the end of the known world. Pilgrims to Santiago used to keep walking until they reached that spot on the Atlantic shore and collect a scallop shell to bring home as a proof that they had walked El Camino. This scallop shell is now one of the symbols of El Camino, which leads the way to Santiago to all pilgrims walking there. We brought a few home to give our friends and families.

The day was extremely hot, and the few miles we walked under the sun. Being sweaty and thirsty made me realized how lucky we had been to have had rain the days before. I guess the Lord knew I could possibly not have made it under the sun with all the water you need to carry around… But we made it to the coast where a big cross stands for all pilgrims to see. Many people, once they arrive, burn the clothing they wore while walking El Camino. I heard this is an old tradition as well, when people used to burn clothes for sanitary reasons after walking months on the road.

We got there and just sat on the rocks looking out on the ocean. We stood there for a while contemplating the beauty of what was before our eyes. Sitting there, in silence, among other pilgrims, I felt I took part of the great centennial history of the way to Santiago. I felt I belonged to that great companionship of millions of men and women – the Church – whom throughout the centuries have walked that same Way for my same reason: faith. I felt I am part of the history of salvation.


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