pilgrims who walk this “Camino” take away from the experience? Is it tourism, a
physical challenge, or a spiritual experience? How do they all come together?
Well, they take away an experience that lasts for a
long time. Even years after they have walked the Camino, people send us emails and are still talking about the experience.
It is something they enthusiastically tell their family and friends about. They
speak of inner peace, of personal rediscovery, of finding a new approach to
painful situations and of acceptance of very difficult moments. But above all,
they speak of a new relationship with God, thanks to St. Ignatius and what he
experienced in his own life. The Ignatian
Way has a strong backbone, namely, the Spiritual Exercises and the
Autobiography: these writings of Ignatius make it possible for us to engage with
him deeply. Cultural and religious tourism are good because it helps people
connect with the traditional expressions of those who years ago searched for ways
of experiencing the Sacred. The religious tradition is revealed in the
Renaissance and Baroque altarpieces, in the legends about relics and miracles,
in the festive celebrations, and so on. The 21st-century pilgrim
drinks from these traditional sources that still give life to the peoples of
What makes the
“Ignatian Way” especially appropriate for the people of our time?
one comes away from a pilgrimage unaffected. For younger people the motivations
will be linked more to the physical challenge and the beauty of nature; for
adults the motivation arises more from the inner life, which often comes to a
crossroads that demands clarification, confrontation, reorganisation and
reconciliation. Of course, adults also want to connect with the beauty of
creation, but their inner life often calls them to look deeper within
themselves. Young people especially want to have a group experience, to
overcome a challenge, to discover values that come from close contact with
nature, with their inner selves, with the obstacles they meet at every step.
And both older and younger, I think, desire to enter more deeply into the life
of Saint Ignatius. They want to know more intimately Íñigo de Loyola, the man
of the King’s court who left everything to start a path radically opposed to
the opulence and arrogance of the Renaissance world of the 16th century.
He is a wonderful example to follow today, when the planet itself is asking us to
change as radically as he did.