The decision to cease pilgrim Masses in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela for the next year is unlikely to affect numbers of pilgrims on the Camino, according to an Irish pilgrimage company.
“I think the overall pilgrimage – the walk itself – is the experience. The pilgrim Mass at the end is the nice cherry on top, you could say,” Fergus Glynn of Marian Pilgrimages told The Irish Catholic. “I don’t think it will affect it that much. I think it’s more the walk itself, really.”
Cathedral authorities announced last week that with the exception of a parish Mass in a side chapel, no religious services will take in the 11th-Century cathedral for the next year while restoration work takes place. The cathedral will, however, remain open for pilgrims who wish to visit the relics of St James.
Pilgrim Masses will take place at the nearby Church of St Francis, and according to Fr Brendan McManus SJ, it will be important that it have a similar atmosphere to the cathedral.
“There’s something about that big liturgy, where everybody’s there, all the groups are there from all over the world,” he said. “They’re going to have to try to replicate the same thing – you need a meaningful liturgy or ritual to finish the pilgrimage, and obviously that is the key place because it is the official end of the pilgrimage and that Mass is the end of your pilgrimage.
“There’s something special about that, even if you’re not Catholic, just being at that.”