A new camino: ‘The Ignatius way’

A new camino: ‘The Ignatius way’ Brendan McManus and James Fullam on the road to Manresa.

Every summer sees the publication of numbers of books about the Camino, taken of course, to mean the ‘The Way of St James’.

These days this has to some extent ceased to be religious, as for many it does not now end at the Shrine of St James in the Cathedral at Compostela, but in the sea at Cabo Finisterre, at ‘the earth’s end’ so to speak. For some this seems a more appropriate end, than standing on the cold stone of a church. The books are inevitably a mixed lot, and many have no real heart to them.

But this book, to counter all that, is not about that Camino at all, but a new one created around that walk Ignatius made in 1522 from Loyola to Manresa, that had such important consequences.

I think that it will provide those many readers who have failed to enjoy recent books about the road to Compostela with something very different, something powerful, very moving and very instructive. It reveals a way of going that can be applied to other pilgrimages.

This small and compact book recounts in surprising detail a walk that Brendan McManus made with his friend James Fullam. They set off from Logroña and end a hundred pages later at Manresa.

It was not an easy journey, indeed it had (like so many things in life) difficulty even getting started, and the difficulties continued to the end, but were resolved, as is not always the case in life.

But essentially what makes this book so very different is the deployment of Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, to reflect upon, scrutinise and benefit from every step they do manage to take.

It is this use of the Exercises that makes this a real spiritual experience in the way that so many books about the Way of St James do not. At the same time it overflows with a deep sense of humanity.

The chapters that deal with the walk end with one called appropriately ‘A meeting of hearts and minds’. Making it to Manresa is a finale, not the real end. For in fact there is a sense in which such a journey, such a careful examination of conscience, such soul searching, never ends.

If one intends to take to this new Camino this is the book to read to prepare one. But remember because your life has been very different from Brendan McManus’s or James Fullam’s, your harvest at journey’s end will be very different too.

Brothers in Arms: Camino Ignaciano,

by Brendan McManus SJ with James Fullam

(Messenger Publications, €12.99/ £11.50)


Anthony Redmond, an amendment

In the issue dated July 20, the review of The Philosophers’ Daughters, edited by Peter Vardy (Darton, Longman & Todd, £12.99/€15.50) was misattributed due to an error. It should have carried the name of our long-time reviewer Anthony Redmond, to whom apologies are due for any embarrassment caused.