Through the routes and the lectures, I faced the variety of the used vocabulary concerning the pilgrims or their  environment.
Below, you will fin some definitions.
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the pilgrims


from the French Jacques (James) : the pilgrim to the sanctuary of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela.


pilgrim to the Mount Saint Michel


this word is used for the pilgrim coming back from the Holy Land : any pilgrim in the past who was going to the Holy Land was coming back with a leaf of palm tree, symbol of the pilgrimage to these places ; later was often used to qualify any pilgrims


the one who, by faith, is going to churches, sanctuaries or any  holy places ; who is making a pilgrimage.
"the pilgrim (often very loaded) isn't an hiker ; he has a goal, which is to reach Compostela in Galicia by taking practicable and well-kept ways, out of the road traffic, if possible pleasant - and which fit more or less to the way (supposed) historical and (particularly) pass through the main pilgrim's sites and/or of interest historico-cultural. He likes certainly the paths, if they are well-kept ; he prefers however a little quiet road, even asphalted, to a rutted or brambles path. He doesn't like the useless curves ; but he likes the stages where he can rest, and find bed and board."
YSL in les guides du bourdon
of the éditions Peyroune


given name in middle-ages to the one who was going to Roma ; in the sens of "which i carrying to Roma" was also used to qualify the road followed by the pilgrims was using to reach the eternal City.

the Camino environment

holy year

since 1119 each time the Saint James feast (July 25th) is a Sunday its a Holy year.
During this year, the holy door is open and any pilgrim can obtain a plenary indulgence for his sins.
The next holy year will occur in 2010, 2021, 2027, ...

compostela/certificate of pilgrimage

the compostela is given by the pilgrims' office of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral to pilgirms who can justified by producing their credencial or their créanciale that they walked the last 100km or ride the last 200 for religion or spiritual reasons.

credencial/pilgrim records

you can obtain this document trough a pilgrim association, in Le Puy en Velay or Vézelay, and in the main stages cities from Saint Jean Pied de Port.
The pilgrim record is proof of pilgrim status, is required for accommodation in pilgrim refuges along the Camino in Spain and it will be required by the pilgrims' office of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral to obtain the compostela.The record should be stamped daily at the refugio, a church, town hall "ayuntamiento" or other to make a record of the pilgrimage.

créanciale/pilgrim records for faith walkers

the "créanciale" is given by the Catholic church after a short talk with the future pilgrim, furthermore it is given the same rights as the pilgrim records, it shows that your pilgrimage is a moment of faith which is already a testimony of faith.


this is a certificate of pilgrimage given by the Concello of Fisterra (town hall) to those who completed the route and have their credencial stamped at intervals along the way.

plenary indulgence

the plenary indulgence is granted to pilgrims who have confessed and partecipated the holy mass in the Santiago de Compostela cathedral during a holy year.

holy door

the holy gate of the Santiago de Compostela cathedral which is on the Quintana place is open from December 31st of the year before the holy year and during all the year.

pilgrim refuges

the Spanish pilgrim refuges are mainly run on a volontary basis by Friends of the Caminos or parishes. Pilgrims are asked to respect the 1000 year old spirit of hospitality of the pilgrimage.
The buildings are often the property cities, provinces or parishes.
Associations have to manage the refugios and pay the expenses (water, electricity, cleaning...).
So, each pilgrim is asked to pay few euros. Private refugios could be more expensive. It could occurs than your participation is free but you have to give.
More or less there are refugios every 20km, addresses and details can be obtain in the pilgrims offices of Saint Jean Pied de Port, Roncesvalles and from time to time in the refugios and when you enter Galicia.
In Winter, some refuges, mainly the private, can be closed, in renovation, poorly or badly heaten.