"When I got upstairs to the office I asked if they had seen the queue.
“Tell us” Eva said and when I did she blessed herself.
“Headbangers” all, I thought fondly. Me included.
Why else would we stand and wait for a stamp and a certificate
which to many is just a piece of paper?
The answer is of course that it marks the end of a significant journey.
A personal pilgrimage which has taken time and effort."
about his experience in the Pilgrim Office
When I finally stood in the square in front of the Cathedral in Santiago
I knew I had achieved something that was both
-very simple- a succession of day walks, mostly not too hard, and also
-amazing- a feat of endurance and perseverance that had taken me nearly three months.
I wasn't really sure whether I should ask for the Compostela, or the non-religious certificate,
but I knew I would treasure the piece of paper I was given at the Pilgrim Office!
Addendum: 25 August
Rebekah has just reported a tragic death on her blog, where a Frenchwoman died in an accident on the journey home, after finishing her pilgrimage and receiving her Compostela. Those at the Pilgrim's Office immediately arranged a memorial Mass to pray for her. It adds a whole new layer of 'special-ness' to the meaning of the Compostela.
'...my friends at the pilgrim office in Santiago de Compostela got to work. They looked up the pilgrim credentials, they hustled over to the cathedral office, and the Monolithic Catholic Institution everyone rails against worked like a well-oiled machine to celebrate a beautiful memorial Mass for "la peregrina Frances."'