Just Another Pilgrim by Canon Jim Foley

Just Another Pilgrim by Canon Jim Foley

JUST ANOTHER PILGRIM

by Canon Jim Foley

No le hagas caso. Es otro pelegrino, nada más.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 — 1847) famously wrote ‘Songs without Words’ and I intend to follow his example in this sketch. I offer no running commentary on what follows; no moments of unrestrained hilarity or near disaster; no attempt to translate my spiritual experiences along the way for the edification of others who may chance upon these pages and have promised themselves that, one day, they would walk somewhere. The literature on the Camino of St James is vast and readily accessible. I have no plans to add to it.

With the approach of the 40th anniversary of my ordination at Easter 1995, I felt it was high time I asserted my identity, in the spirit of Vatican II, as a member of a Pilgrim Church and what better place to begin than the ancient shrine of my Patron Saint James at Compostela in Galicia. I placed one condition on my undertaking. I would travel alone. After forty years in the ministry I had discovered that the good Lord is not the only one who knows when I stand up and when I sit down. Everybody knows. The disciples may have been commissioned to go out in pairs, but I gave myself a dispensation and set out alone into the sunset on my pilgrim way to Compostela. The only baggage I was prepared to carry was a ten kilo haversack on my shoulders, five kilos of which I dumped at Astorga.

I invested in a stout pair of boots, collected a repeat prescription, and set off under the alias of `Jacques l’Ecossais’. This would surely guarantee open-handed hospitality.

My Pilgrimage to Compostela was undertaken on foot.   I declined the option to travel on horseback or on donkey or on mountain bicycle and made the pilgrimage during the month of July, the hottest month in the year, and  the month during which my Patron’s Feast Day falls, and was spread over a period of six years. On arrival at each location along the way, my Pilgrim Passport was signed and sealed by the appropriate authority, civil or ecclesiastic, to establish my identity as a genuine pilgrim who could lay claim to a corner in the nearest Refugio. To view a selection of these seals in PDF format click here.

A small selection of these hard-won seals is published below.  They give some indication of my route.   In passing, I would draw the reader’s attention to the fact that, the larger and more pretentious the local seal, the smaller and less comfortable the accommodation.  However, nothing can diminish the splendour of the vistas on offer each day.   To view a random collection of photographs taken along the way click here.

The mother and father of all thuribles.

 

I leave the last word to the parish priest of Navarrenx (Bayonne) who added the following words to his signiture on my Pilgrim Passport:

‘Jacques, I am delighted to have met you, myself Basque, I recognised in you, a Scotsman, a brother.   Is it not the priesthood of Jesus Christ that we share that brings us together and renders us so close to one another?

Thank you for your visit to Navarrenx.

Sebastian Ihidoy’

More Canon Foley Articles

'They came as a boon and a blessing to men, the Pickwick, the Owl and the Waverley pen'

    It is no secret that there has been a marked decline in handwriting since the Reformation. Think of those magnificent medieval manuscripts which are now the cherished possessions of museums; many of them with beautiful miniature illustrations married to the text,...

‘They came as a boon and a blessing to men, the Pickwick, the Owl and the Waverley Pen’

By Canon Jim Foley  It is no secret that there has been a marked decline in handwriting since the Reformation. Think of those magnificent medieval manuscripts which are now the cherished possessions of museums; many of them with beautiful miniature illustrations...

‘The Crow and the Fox’ A salutary fable by La Fontaine (1621-1695)

By Canon Jim Foley There can’t be many of us left. If there are, I would be happy to hear from them before it’s too late. I am referring to those of us who had the good fortune to take our first steps in rudimentary French, under the guidance of Miss Kathleen McAnulty...

Bannen’s Land: An appreciation of Ian Bannen ‘Scotland’s Favourite Actor’ (1928-1999)

By Canon Jim Foley There is a parcel of land in the Monkland’s District of Lanarkshire, known as Bannen’s Land. The short explanation is that the Bannen family were the proprietors of the land. In time, however, the name would come to have a much wider constituency....

Peter F. Anson Artist and Scholar 1889-1975

An anecdote remembered by Canon Jim Foley  Although I did not have the good fortune to meet Peter Anson, I feel I know him quite well. I first heard of him as a character in an anecdote shared with me by William Clapperton, who was Rector of the Scots College in Rome...

Redmond Prendiville 1900-1969

Archbishop of Perth Australia 1933 - 1968 A Memory by Canon Jim Foley In an earlier blog, entitled ‘A Glimpse of Rome’, I made a passing reference to the Spartan life led by students for the priesthood in the Roman colleges in the wake of World War II, with an...

The Little Red Book

  A moment of grace on the way to Compostela By Canon Jim Foley Mao Tse-Tung, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, could not have known that his Little Red Book, evidently the most studied book in the world during the late sixties, had been anticipated in my...

‘Ah me! How calm and deep’ (O quanta, qualia)

A neglected masterpiece By Peter Abelard 1079-1142 Commented by Canon Jim Foley To view this essay in as a PDF document click here. I was introduced to this hymn in its English translation when I was a student in Rome and long before I discovered the beauty of the...

Sortes Virgilianae or The Short Straw

By Canon Jim Foley Some time ago I chanced upon a group of my parishioners outside the local Post Office. They seemed to be engaged in a very heated discussion. One of them detached herself from the others to ask me what was the number of ‘Sweet Heart of Jesus’ in the...

Need to get in touch?

Contact us by phone, email or via our social media channels.

Saint Augustine's Church, 12 Dundyvan Road, Langloan,
Coatbridge, ML5 1DQ

Email: office@saintaugustines.org.uk Tel: 01236 423044

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!