A very important asset of the Camino de Santiago, and part of the pilgrim community, is undoubtedly the associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago. Friends, pilgrims, hospitaleros, businessmen, lovers of the Camino and motivated people with no other concern than to take care of the Jacobean routes and the entire social, economic and cultural spectrum that makes it up. We wanted to pay tribute to these pilgrim action groups, and for this purpose in this article we will go deeper into their raison d’être, objectives and initiatives.

What is an Association of Friends of the Camino de Santiago?

In its second meaning, the RAE defines “association” as a “group of associates for the same purpose and, where appropriate, a legal entity formed by them”, i.e., a group of individuals who are grouped around a concern to achieve certain objectives. In this case, the concern is the Camino de Santiago, but let’s get to know its objectives.

Established as non-profit institutions, the associations of the Friends of the Camino de Santiago, as we can read in the website of the Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the Way of St. JamesThe “represent a praiseworthy effort of private initiatives embarked on the recovery of the pilgrimage to Compostela and the many Pilgrims’ Roads to Santiago that run through Spain”. Generally federated, they all have legal statutes and are registered in the corresponding administrative registers, and all this, to protect, conserve and disseminate the different Jacobean routes, their raison d’être.

Logo of Camino Associations

How many associations are there?

In Spain, several dozen. There are Jacobean associations in practically all the Autonomous Communities, so there will always be an association on one of the official routes. Some of them even specify in their name a Jacobean route, the object of their association. By Autonomous Communities, Castilla y León and Andalucía have the most associations.

Outside Spain we can also find associations of friends of the Camino de Santiago: in Europe, Germany, France, Portugal and Italy stand out as the countries with the most associations, which also coincides with the high number of pilgrims from these countries that we can usually see making the pilgrimage to Compostela.

Pilgrims in the Obradoiro Square

Outside Europe, they also exist, and the TheFirst European Cultural Itinerary is thus established as the an international, not only European,path. Brazil is the country with the most Jacobean associations in all of the Americas, but it should be noted that The Way of St. James reaches our Antipodes, as we can even find associations in Australia.

In detail

The purposes and lines of action of the associations may vary in their wording, but in general they consist of:

  • to provide information and support to pilgrims;
  • create, train, organize and manage groups of volunteer hospitaleros;
  • collaborate with institutions to create shelters and refuges;
  • organizing, administering and managing facilities and volunteer staff;
  • to recover Jacobean roads and stretches;
  • to carry out studies, research and publications on the Jacobean event;
  • promote cultural activities;
  • represent the Jacobean world to institutions;
  • collaborate with civil and ecclesiastical entities.

Some examples of their work

As you can see, there are many actions that the Jacobean associations and federations carry out, and we guarantee that this is so, as we ourselves have been witnesses of it. For example, in the Portuguese Way of St. James, we have found signaling actions of the AGACS (Galician Association of Friends of the Camino de Santiago), or the recent initiative in the French Way of St. James of the Association of Friends of the Way of St. James of the Sarria region of twinning Sarria and Germany with Jacobean flowers.

Galician Association of the Way of St. James

But its activity goes back a long way, and since 1987 the Federation of Associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago itself has been publishing periodically the “Peregrino Magazine”, a meeting place and knowledge of everything related to the Camino de Santiago.
Peregrino Magazine
The magazine, a place of encounter and knowledge of everything that has to do with the Way of St. James. Not only the Federation itself, but most of the associations publish their own magazines, as is the case of the Asociación de Amigos del Camino de Santiago de León “Pulchra Leonina” and its magazine ” Pulchra Leonina “.
The Senderín

Other Jacobean associations

There are also associations around the Camino de Santiago composed of public initiatives, such as the Association of Town Councils of the English Way, which constituted in 2019, brings together all the municipalities involved in the English Way of St. James.

On the other hand, our furry four-legged friends are also represented in the Asociación Protectora de Animales del Camino (APACA), created in 2015, with the aim of protecting animals and promoting the Jacobean routes and their values of respect, also with animals, because nowadays many pilgrims make the Camino de Santiago with his dog.

Want to join us?

If you want to join an association of Friends of the Camino de Santiago, the process is very easy. Choose the one that most appeals to you, generally the one closest to you, and get in touch with it. The role of the partners is very important, as they are lovers of the Camino de Santiago and can generate many ideas. The indispensable requirement is that, to love the Camino de Santiago. Generally there is a membership fee to be paid, which is necessary for the expenses derived from the existence of the association and the initiatives it carries out, although it is usually a more than affordable fee.

Some pilgrims on the French Way through Castile

A form of pilgrimage

Yes, if you would like to be always on the Camino, even though it is somewhat complicated, joining an association of Friends of the Camino de Santiago is a very good idea. You can contribute a lot, as an unconditional lover of the Camino de Santiago. In addition, they often make trips to some Jacobean route, so as not to lose the essence of what we are, pilgrims in love with our Camino de Santiago.