Over 800 years of Camino tradition in Croatia

by admin

The year is 1203, a group of pilgrims starting their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela from Šibenik, a Croatian port on the Adriatic. Members of the local government authority of st. James or giving them some final bits of advice translating Latin from Codex Calixtinus. These are simple people who don’t speak or read, Latin a language of priests and scholars.  They have never walked more than 50 km away from their birthplace, they have never seen the map of Europe they speak no language other than their local dialect. For them this is a journey of over 6.000 kilometres through unknown lands, fraught with danger. Thick dark forests hide ferocious beasts. There are bandits aplenty even in settled areas, since there is no police. Not that there is much to steal, since they only carry a  few coins with them.

How will they get there, where will they sleep, how will they get food, how will they be able to communicate. These pilgrims have no answers to these questions, only a deep faith in Divine providence.

Although Croatians have maintained a long historical tradition of pilgrimages to local shrines especially those dedicated to the Virgin Mary, this kind of journey “to the ends of the Earth” in Middle Ages was something exceptional. Records show that since 1203 Croatian confraternities of St James were helping pilgrims who decided to take this giant leap of Faith, by walking to Santiago de Compostela and back to Croatia.