What is the Compostela?
The Compostela (erroneously known as Compostelana) is a document issued by the ecclesiastical authorities that certifies pilgrims the completion of the Camino.
Requirements to obtain the Compostela
To obtain it, you only need to meet these three requirements:
1. Have completed on foot the last 100 km of the Camino de Santiago, or 200 km by bicycle any route a of the Camino de Santiago, or 200 km by bicycle.
2. Saying that you have made the pilgrimage for religious or spiritual reasons.
3. Deliver to the Pilgrim’s Office the Credential with the stamps that you have collected throughout your pilgrimage. Remember to place at least two stamps a day to prove that you have covered the minimum distance. Once they have checked the data they will return your Credential.
What if I don’t have religious or spiritual reasons to get it?
As we have said, proving religious or spiritual motives is one of the requirements to obtain the Compostela. But those who do not confess their religious faith and have made the pilgrimage for non-religious reasons, will not leave empty-handed, but will receive a Pilgrim’s Certificate instead of the Compostela.
How many kilometers are necessary to receive the Compostela?
The minimum distance you will have to travel to get it will depend on how you do the Camino de Santiago.
If you do the Way on foot you will need at least 100 kilometers, i.e. the last stages of each route. In the case of the French Way you will have to start at least in Sarria, in Tui if you decide to do the Portuguese Way Vilalba for the the North Way in Lugo if you decide for the Primitivo in Ferrol for the English and in Ourense if you opt for the Sanabrés or the Via de la Plata.
But if you perform el Cycling routeyou will need to travel a longer distance, 200 kilometers. This way you will have to start in Ponferrada if your option is the French Way, in Póvoa do Varzim for the Portuguese Way, in Tapia de Casariego for the North Way, Grandas de Salime for the Primitive Way and from A Gudiña if you do the Silver Way.
At present, pilgrims are allowed to make the Camino de Santiago by sea and by sea can also get their compostela. They will need to cover at least 100 miles of sailing, plus the last leg on foot.
Is it possible to do the Camino in different years?
Of course it is. Many pilgrims are unaware that they can do the Camino in single stages and also receive their compostela.
The only requirement is that it must always be in geographical and chronological order. That is to say, you can do a stage of the Camino every weekend, but you must do them in order and without skipping any of them until you get to Santiago.
Where to pick up the Compostela?
Once you have finished your Camino de Santiago you can pick up your compostela. To do this you must go to the Pilgrim’s Welcome Office, located a few metres from the Cathedral.
Here we leave you the address and contact:
Rúa Carretas, N º33 15705 Santiago de Compostela A Coruña – SPAIN
+34 981 568 846
The office is closed on Christmas, 25th December and 1st January, and that is why if you arrive on those days, the Compostela must be collected from the sacristy of the cathedral of Santiago.
The normal opening hours are divided into two periods of the year, from Easter to the 31st of October where the office will be open from 8:00 to 21:00 hours.
From October 31st until Easter week the office will be open every day from 10:00 to 19:00 h. 10:00 to 19:00 h.
History of the Compostela
Known in the Middle Ages as “Compostellae“, it was the accreditation of the pilgrimage to the Tomb of St. James the Apostle, which in the ninth and tenth centuries was institutionalized acquiring great social and religious importance. For this reason it was necessary to create an element that would give evidence of having made this trip.
At the beginning, objects that could only be acquired in Santiago de Compostela were used, such as scallop shells. But soon forgers began to emerge, so the Church was forced to create an official document. In the 13th century, the so-called letters of evidence began to be issued, which are the direct origin of the Compostela we know today.
In the 16th century, the Catholic Monarchs built the Royal Hospital Foundation, the building now occupied by the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos, located next to the Cathedral.
At that time pilgrims acquired the right to free accommodation for three days on presentation of their Compostela.
Already in our century, with the popularization of tourism, the effort and sacrifice in atonement for sins that until then meant the pilgrimage on foot, began to give way to a pleasant activity in which to spend the holidays.
This was the main reason why the Chapter of the Metropolitan Church of Santiago limited the granting of the Compostela only to those who went to the Tomb of the Apostle for religious or spiritual reasons.