To the Catholic Sentinel:

El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James)  covers 769 km from the France/Spain border to the northwestern corner of the Iberian Peninsula.  Pilgrims have walked this trail for 1,000 years in hopes of heightening spiritual awareness.

While studying abroad in Northern Spain last fall, my friends and I took a day trip to Santiago de Compostela, the medieval city that has changed little since the Renaissance. Its cathedral is home to the bones of St. James, the oldest working clock in the world, and the largest incense vessel in Catholicism.

I had never seen such dedication to faith. I had never seen a display of self-exploration like this. The journey that these people endured impacted me in a way that made me feel as if I had made my own pilgrimage.

The hardships and struggles that one must experience during a pilgrimage of several months must be immense. The fun and lasting memories that come from this adventure with friends and family must bond people together like few other experiences can.

Inspired by Catholics from the opposite side of the world, my friends and I made a goal: to return to Spain within five years and travel across El Camino. Whether we accomplish this goal remains to be seen, but the Catholic inspiration that we received from people’s experience will last.

Tom Malone, Portland