To the Field of Stars

Kevin A. Codd, To the Field of Stars: A Pilgrim’s Journey to Santiago de Compostela (2008)

Kevin Codd has written a wonderful account of his first pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain (the shrine of the apostle St. James). Walking the almost–500-mile path starting in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, he recounts his daily journey, both physical and, more importantly, spiritual and interior.

At the time, Father Kevin was the rector of the American College of the Immaculate Conception, the American Catholic seminary at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium (sadly, the seminary has since closed, apparently due to the nonfeasance of the U.S. bishops in sending seminarians there). Having long had a desire to make the pilgrimage, he did so in the summer of 2003.

I picked up this book because I’ve been interested in doing the pilgrimage myself. I was somewhat envious of those few persons he encountered who were doing longer pilgrimages, with one person engaged in walking to Spain, to Rome, and then to Jerusalem. Although most people on the pilgrim’s path are doing so for spiritual reasons (stated or unstated), I was surprised by how little support is given by the Spanish Catholic church to this. Aside from some pilgrim hostels that are part of monasteries, there is little formal spiritual support for the pilgrims. Indeed, the pilgrim’s refuge that makes the greatest effort to evangelize and tend to the spiritual needs of the pilgrims turns out to be run by the Campus Crusade for Christ!

There are other guidebooks to the Camino itself, but this book’s gentleness of spirit makes it an easy recommendation to those interested in the Camino so that they might see one pilgrim’s experience of it. The book would also be useful as an introduction to a lived experience of Catholicism. I highly recommend this book.

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