Guidance on spiritual requirements for the ‘Compostela’

The Compostela and the Jubilee Indulgence

The following letter, on the subject of the Compostela and the Jubilee Indulgence, was sent to the Confraternity by Don Jaime García Rodríguez, the Canon of Santiago Cathedral who is in charge of the Pilgrim Office. He asked that it be circulated as widely as possible. Punctuation and bold lettering are as in the original. 

Santiago, 6 July 1999

To: Diocesan Officials, Priests of the Camino, Refugio Wardens and Friends of the Camino:

Dear Friends,

At this point in Holy Year we wish to clarify certain matters so that you in turn can inform pilgrims:

1 The Compostela

In order for the Compostela to be granted it is necessary that in principle, pilgrimage be made from home to the tomb of the Apostle St James. Since this may imply great differences in distance, the requirement has been set at a minimum of 100 km on foot or horseback and 200 km by bicycle: this means at least the last 100 or 200 km.

People who do specific stretches of the Camino, for lack of time or for other circumstances, are not entitled to the Compostela every time they walk 100 km; the point is to make a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle. We ask you to explain this to pilgrims, as lack of information sometimes creates difficulties for us here.

The Compostela used to indicate that a pilgrim had carried out some form of penance nowadays it certifies that he or she has made the traditional pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

2 It is necessary to point out as well that the Jubilee indulgence is not linked to the Compostela. The Jubilee can be gained through any means of travel – it does not have to be on foot – and one can legitimately receive the Compostela without gaining the Jubilee; as you know, to gain the Jubilee it is necessary to

a) visit the tomb of the Apostle in the Cathedral and pray (attending Mass fulfils this condition);

b) receive the sacrament of Confession (in the Cathedral or in another church, within fifteen days before or after one’s visit to the Apostle’s tomb, with the same intention;

c) receive Communion, preferably in the sanctuary. The Jubilee, in addition, can be applied to our personal sins or to those of the dead. According to Canon Law those who are sick or disabled can receive the Jubilee in their own churches without visiting the Cathedral by completing the other conditions (see ‘Disposiciones para obtener la Indulgencia Jubilar’, Compostela no 17, pp. 9-10).

3 The Jubilee Indulgence can be obtained by pilgrims by:

a) attending a religious service in the Cathedral privately

b) attending as part of a group (and if we are advised ahead of time we usually mention the group during the Eucharist;

c) reading a prayer to the Apostle on behalf of the group; the prayer consists of the reading, after the Gospel, of a text submitted previously and which is no more than a page in length, to which the celebrant of the Eucharist replies.

Thanking you for your assistance in Holy Year, I send you an affectionate greeting,

Jaime García Rodríguez, Delegado de Peregrinaciones

Further information is available from the Pilgrim Office

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