A Road Less Travelled
1 October 2017
I am about to embark on a pilgrimage along the Ignatian Camino. No, not one of the main routes to Santiago, although at some stages I shall be following one of them in the other direction. This is a journey from Loyola to Manresa, as Iñigo, the future St Ignatius, walked or rather limped in February 1522.
The official web site, www.caminoignaciano.org, has a link to a statistical report on the growth of this new route. From 42 pilgrims in 2011, the peak year was 2015 with 443 – I think this refers to pilgrims who registered with the pilgrim office in Loyola and received a certificate in Manresa.
In 2016, the majority of the 280 registered pilgrims (57.5%) were men; 42 were teenagers and 48 were over 65, with the peak group (157) being between 36 and 65; and students and teachers made up about one-third of the total (more than half of those who gave a profession). The vast majority gave “religious” or “spiritual” as their primary motivation – much higher than for Santiago, where, even allowing for the greater likelihood that religious pilgrims will bother to register, there is a more even split between religious and cultural reasons. More than half were from Spain, with 53 from the Americas, 37 from Oceania, and a mere 33 from Europe outside Spain. Only 10 began walking in October, so it is quite likely that I shall not meet a single Ignatian pilgrim on the way. But I shall probably encounter dozens of Compostela pilgrims between Navarrete and Logroño.
One reason for the lack of European pilgrims is a shortage of the official guidebook in English translation. There is no official distributor, though I was lucky to pick up a copy on Amazon Marketplace. I already had a German version, on the shelves in the pilgrimage section in an Innsbruck bookshop, but the English one not only has the linguistic advantage, but is spiral-bound so it will lie flat when opened. It’s quite big and heavy though. Will I resist the temptation to tear out the pages of the sections for each day’s walk as I go and put them in my pocket? There is a spiritual section at the back, with meditations for each day.