Students travel The Way of Saint James this summer


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Sign outside of the last temple on the path. Courtesy of Dr. Allison Alberts.

In early June, 14 Sacred Heart Greenwich juniors and two Upper School Spanish teachers will travel to Madrid, Spain to walk the historic pilgrimage, El Camino de Santiago (El Camino).
El Camino de Santiago translates to “The Way of Saint James” in English. It is a nearly 500-mile pilgrimage that typically starts in St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz, France and concludes at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The pilgrims believe the remains of the patron Saint of Spain, St. James, are located in Compostela. El Camino changed into a Christian pilgrimage when a local outcast named Pelagius had a vision of a field of stars. This vision led him to St. James’ tomb, according to

The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is the final destination for all pilgrims traveling El Camino. Courtesy of National Geographic.

In the early years of El Camino, many local people catered to the needs of the pilgrims, assisting at hospitals, churches, monasteries, and abbeys. However, in the fourteenth century, the popularity of traveling El Camino faded because of war and epidemics. Interest in El Camino began to arise again at the end of the nineteenth century, and by the end of the twentieth century, the number of people traveling to El Camino peaked to over 50,000 people traveling per year, according to
It typically takes pilgrims 30 days to walk the entire Camino, but the Sacred Heart juniors are taking an alternative route. Sacred Heart students will start towards the end of the traditional 500km route in Sarria, Spain, and instead, they will only walk 100km.
The reasons for walking El Camino vary from person to person. Many people still walk for religious reasons, but today individuals from all faiths travel El Camino. Others report walking El Camino for the experience or to meet new people and socialize, according to
Similar to the traditional pilgrimage, the Sacred Heart Greenwich students who applied for this trip have different reasons for wanting to attend.
“I am hoping to get really close with my classmates and experience traditional Spanish culture. Hopefully, it will be a unique experience that I will remember forever,” junior Sarah Speegle said.
Sign outside of the last temple on the path.
Courtesy of Dr. Allison Alberts.

Upper School Spanish teacher and chaperone for Sacred Heart’s pilgrimage Ms. Montserrat Garcia believes the trip “could deepen students spirituality, and provide them with opportunities to grow mentally and socially.”
As a native Spaniard, Ms. Garcia plans to share her country’s culture with her students in a memorable way.
Ms. Garcia hopes that after going through a very competitive application process, this trip will be a memorable ending to a stressful year for these 14 juniors.
– Shantel Guzman, Staff Writer