The way Oporto-Santiago de Compostela
The way to Santiago

A Pilgrimage is an act of Faith. It is a Way and, as such, it presupposes an itinerary but it does not stop at that. It must be associated with an intention and an objective, nourishing the motivation and awakening inner search, thus bringing about spiritual and cultural enrichment.

Amongst us, Christians, the Pilgrimage can be traced back to the Old Testament, to the Exodus of the Chosen people to the Promised Land. Jesus Christ also went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. And the Church, who from earliest times has supported the culture of the Holy Sites, also encourages Pilgrimages. Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago were the great centres of Christianity which mobilised innumerable generations of pilgrims, as is still the case with Lourdes, Fátima or Czestochowa.

Jerusalem and Rome were the great poles for the spreading of Christianity, the former by virtue of being the Holy City where the Son of God gave himself up to redeem Humanity and the latter by the distinction of being the Holy See. However, Santiago has the privilege of having been, throughout the whole of the Second Millenium, the great confluence of the European road network along which the preaching of the Gospels spread, which is the basis for the civilisation of this old continent.

We may, therefore, say that the Ways to Santiago are the common denominator in European culture. Therefore, in a Europe which more than ever wishes to see itself strong and cohesive, speaking in one voice in all its languages, these routes which are public places for convergence and harmony, should be respected and promoted. On them, any Pilgrim feels like a citizen of the world, allowing him to acquire perspective on his convictions in an ecumenical atmosphere of openness and tolerance.

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I, Bishop of Rome and Pastor of the universal Church, from here, Santiago, send you, old Europe, a cry of love. Find yourself once more! Be yourself, discover your origins, renew your roots, revive those authentic values, which made your History glorious and blessed your presence on other Continents!

Santiago de Compostela, 9th of November of 1982
Pope John Paul II

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