AN 800-kilometre pilgrimage to the remains of the apostle St James was described as a metaphor for life by Father Paddy Sykes.
Father Sykes, who has spent the last six weeks walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, said the trek was a test of endurance, one which he considered representative of our own spiritual journey.
“Your legs would be sore while climbing a hill, then once you got to the top you’ve had an even greater hill to climb, which I think parallels life,” Father Sykes, who completed the walk in only 32 days, said.
“I found it interesting to meet the people participating in the walk – and their reasons for being a part of it, whether spiritual or otherwise.”
The religious walk – also known as the Way of St James – is considered one of the three most significant pilgrimages in Catholicism, on par with Rome and Jerusalem.
The route starts in France, going over the Pyrenees before passing through provincial towns.
“Cow bells were used on livestock,” Father Paddy said.
“It was interesting to see how rural and isolated parts of Spain were.”
Despite the blisters, Father Sykes said he marvelled at the historic churches that lined the route, part of which is marked.
“There were three churches in each town – in places the size of Uranquinty,” he said.
“Which were incredible, very ornate.”
A former Navy chaplain who was based in the Middle East, Father Sykes said he had already recovered from the rigours of the trip.
“I’m still a bit jet-lagged –but my feet and legs have recovered.”