Why we talk of the Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago
On many occasions you will hear about the Epilogue of the Camino de Santiago when referring to the Camino de Finisterre. There are many pilgrims who when they plan to complete the route that connects the Cathedral of Santiago with Cape Finisterre and Muxía, ask us why it is called Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago.
If that’s your case, we recommend to start by finding out information about the Camino de Santiago to Finisterre to know the details of its stages. In this article, you can find out more about the history of Finisterre.
The objective of this article is to explain the reasons why the Camino al Fin del Mundo is called the Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago. We also intend to clarify when we should refer to the Camino de Finisterre as an epilogue and when as a Camino de Santiago.
Before you continue reading, if you have already decided to do the Camino de Santiago to Finisterre, you are in the right place! At Santiago Ways, we are experts in the organization of trips on the Camino. Tell us the details of your travel plans and leave it to us to plan this magical experience.
The concept of the epilogue
To understand why the Camino de Finisterre is referred to as epilogue to the Camino de Santiago, the concept of epilogue must be analysed in the first place. The word consists of two Greek words: epi (envelope) and logos (reflected or pondered word).
Its own etymology has made the epilogue concept commonly used in the literary world and it is unusual to hear it in other environments. We assume that this is why it generates so much confusion among pilgrims, to hear about the Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago.
The origin of the word already indicates that its meaning refers to a final part (about something). In fact, in literature it is used as a contrast to the prologue, part of the book that precedes the work.
In its use, the word epilogue has served to refer to a recap. That is, to collect a summary of ideas that have been previously exposed, which work as a conclusion. However, it has also been used to incorporate added notes or ideas that help you understand all that happened previously.
Its transference into pilgrim tradition
Both understandings have a place when analysing the concept of Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago. For many, the Camino de Finisterre functions as a final stage on the Camino de Santiago which allows them to internalize and assimilate everything learned during the pilgrimage.
However, for others, the Camino de Finisterre is an addition. In these last kilometres, they seek to answer questions they have not been able to resolve before reaching the tomb of the Apostle.
At this point, we must remember that the Ruta al fin del Mundo is, historically, much earlier than the Camino de Santiago. Since the time of the Romans, many set off for the place where the sun was dying in search of existential answers.
With the discovery of the remains of Santiago the Apostle, and the subsequent consolidation of the pilgrimage to Compostela, this route continued to be transited. Many of the pilgrims during the Middle Ages, after paying homage to the saint, went to the Cape Finisterre in search of answers or attracted by the mysticism that surrounded these lands, after which, there was no known world.
The Ruta al Fin del Mundo: An epilogue or a Camino de Santiago?
As a route of the Camino de Santiago, it is understood that all routes go to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Therefore, we cannot consider the Camino de Finisterre as a pilgrim route, as most pilgrims do.
Hence the route is known as an Epilogue. Although the Church has also referred to this itinerary as a Jacobean Prolongation to Finisterre. We cannot forget that the Catholic Church has made many efforts to try to integrate and justify a pagan route within pilgrim tradition.
However, we do not always have to consider the Camino de Finisterre as an Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago. If the route is done in reverse, we can consider that path as a pilgrim path. To do this, you have to leave from Muxía or Cape Finisterre and set off for the Cathedral of Santiago.
Therefore, you can talk about the Camino de Santiago de Finisterre. Hence, the route is marked with pilgrim symbols (scallops on blue background, yellow arrows, etc.)
This difference between Epilogue and Camino de Santiago is not established by us. The Pilgrim’s Office recognizes this. The Compostela is granted to all those people who, following this route, have completed the 100 kilometres required, can request it.
This fact is little known because the majority of pilgrims use the Camino de Finisterre as an Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago or not as the main pilgrimage route. In fact, according to statistics from the Pilgrim’s Office, fewer than 1,500 people used the Camino de Santiago de Finisterre as a pilgrimage route.
Is the Camino de Finisterre the only epilogue on the Camino de Santiago?
The Camino de Finisterre is the route that is popularly called Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago, because it is the most common. However, if we look at the meaning of the concept, it could be named after many other routes.
In fact, as we explained in the article we dedicate to the scallop, the pilgrim’s shell, during the Middle Ages, the Camino de Santiago was made both back and forth. The way back was made by the ancient pilgrims, having visited the tomb of the apostle, and was not a Jacobean route, as it was not directed to the Cathedral of Santiago. We must therefore consider this journey as an Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago.
Which routes are considered an epilogue to the Camino de Santiago?
In this way, we could say that any route that is taken, once the tomb of Santiago the Apostle has been reached, is an extension of the Camino de Santiago. In this sense, continuing along the Camino Portugues, having completed the pilgrimage to Santiago, it is increasingly popular with pilgrims.
In that case, it is also necessary to refer to this route as Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago and not as a pilgrim route. This means that each Camino de Santiago may be considered as a pilgrim route or as an Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago. If you want to know all the routes that run through the Iberian Peninsula, in this article you can read about which is the best Camino de Santiago.
When is a route not considered as an epilogue to the Camino de Santiago?
At this point, it may be important to add a nuance to the definition of Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago. As the concept itself indicates, it is an extension of the Camino de Santiago. Therefore, we can only consider as an Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago those routes that depart from the Cathedral of Santiago.
Camino de los Faros
That is to say the Camino dos Faros, for example, it is not an Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago. This route joins the town of Malpica and Cape Finisterre. Therefore, it has nothing to do with the Camino de Santiago.
However, if you depart from the Cathedral of Santiago following the Camino de Finisterre and then link with the Camino de los Faros, in that case, we would be talking about an Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago. If you want to know more about the combination of the two paths you can see how to complete the Camino de Santiago in reverse.
Other routes with pilgrim tradition
Other sections, such as the Camino del Salvador, the Camino Lebaniego or the Camino de Uclés, despite being linked to pilgrim Jacobean tradition, we cannot consider them as epilogues either. None of them depart from the Cathedral of Santiago.
We hope that this article has clarified the concept of Epilogue to the Camino de Santiago. We also hope that it has inspired you to encourage you to extend your Camino de Santiago.
If you have already completed any of the Epilogues to the Camino de Santiago that we discussed in this article, we would like you to tell us how your experience was. Our readers will love to know about them.
Finally, we want to remind you that in Santiago Ways we are an agency specialized in the Camino de Santiago and all its epilogues. If you want us to help you organize your trip, just call us, leave us a message in this article or write to us on our Facebook page. Our team will be more than happy to assist you!