24-05-2024 Viernes, VII semana - tiempo ordinario
Bizkeliza 5 Pilgrimages

Bilbao diocesan delegation for Saint James Way and other pilgrimages.

It offers pastoral help to live the Camino de Santiago and other pilgrimages as an experience of human-spiritual journey full of hope

Info & Contacto

Delegate name: Patxi Malo
Telephone: 679 184 335
E-mail: caminosantiago@bizkeliza.org

Who we are

Bilbao diocesan delegation for Saint James Way and other pilgrimages.

Dear pilgrim:

We are a department of the diocese of Bilbao, in charge of the pastoral care of the pilgrims (not only those on the way of Saint Jacques, but also pilgrims in the way of any other sanctuary) in Bizkaia following the wish expressed by the Bishop.   

This committee consists of volunteers who co-ordinate the initiatives and activities aimed at you as pilgrim. We want to offer you all our help so you can live the experience of pilgrimage as a real human and spiritual way, fully of hope. May the information in this web be useful during your pilgrimage.

First of all, what is a pilgrimage?

Pilgrims are not tourists. It is very easy to identify them: you only must look at their eyes.

Pilgrimage consists of going along a pilgrimage path at the same time you live an internal way. The important thing is the attitude you have while walking.

All pilgrimages, specially the one to Santiago de Compostela, magically catch you. This feeling appears because, when the most adequate conditions for the silence, the inner life, the encounter with nature, the peace, the personal effort, the individual growth, the doubts and fears, the fellowship, the questions, the time for answering, the tears, the laughs, etc. God Himself appears and touches your heart.

What actually happens is that, when you start walking, although you don’t know, God walks together with you, and accompanies you as an invisible friend. This situation switches on the heart of the pilgrim with the desire of Him. Something similar happened to the disciples of Emmaus (Lc 14,13).

If you want to feel God in Camino, we can only make an invitation: “Come and see”. Start you pilgrimage!

The Way of St James

The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Who is “Santiago”?

The name Santiago or Donejakue is an etymological derivation of the Latin name Iacobus (From San-Iago, it would turn out to be san-tiago, Done-jakue). Also, the Latin term has its origin in the Hebrew name Jacob, Yeagob, which means “God will reward”.

Santiago is one of the twelve apostles, the one called “James the Greater” to distinguish him from another James, “from Alpheus”, who was a relative of Jesus. Santiago was born in Bethsaida, he was the brother of another disciple named John, to whom the fourth Gospel is attributed. They were fishermen, Peter’s companions in his work at Capernaum, to whom Jesus called to follow him: “Later he saw two other brothers: James, son of Zebedee, with his brother John; they were with their father in the boat preparing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him” (Mt 4:21-22).

According to the Bible, both brothers were nicked named by Jesus as “The sons of Thunder”, given their passionate temperament. The Apostle James “the Greater” accompanied Jesus on many of his miracles and witnessed many of his apparitions after his resurrection.

James and John also accompanied Jesus in the most intimate and personal moments, such as the Transfiguration. And they are named second and third in the list of disciples, thus signifying their importance in the group of the Twelve: “These are the Twelve he appointed: Simon whom he named Peter; James son of Zebedee and his brother John, whom he named Boanerges, meaning sons of thunder” (Mk 3:16-17).

Santiago the Greater is the first apostle to die, martyred by Herod Agrippa in the year 44: “He had Santiago executed, brother of John” (Acts 12:2). It was never said where he was buried. It is said that Herod forbade him to be buried and the historical memory that said he had been taken to bury to the limits of the territory of the Roman Empire was maintained.

How did the “Camino de Santiago” originate?

In the IX century Visigothic Spain was defeated. The internal divisions of the Gothic Christian kings allowed Muslim troops to disembark in the peninsula in 711 and in a few years, they had already occupied the entire peninsula. They were defeated by Charlemagne at Poitiers in 732 and, slowed down by their advance through Europe, they remained in the Iberian Peninsula. Christians that had the chance, flee to the north, with the relics of the saints and take refuge in the mountains of Asturias, Cantabria and Galicia. In this context of difficulty and persecution, when a sign of faith was most needed, in the year 813, when the Christian king Alfonso II was in the capital in Oviedo, a discovery took place: a very old Christian cemetery of Roman origin. In the centre, a tomb surrounded by many other Overlapping Christian graves, as if for centuries, everyone wanted to bury themselves next to that first tomb, same as happened with the tombs of the apostles and martyrs. That cemetery had been abandoned for some strange reason and had been covered in dirt and hidden by vegetation for centuries.

The ancient tradition that held that Santiago had preached in Hispania (in Zaragoza the apparition to the Apostle of the Virgin in mortal flesh on a Pillar is venerated), was added to the one that maintained that his body was buried in the end of the Roman Empire (Finisterre). This made the discovery identified as the hidden tomb of Santiago Apostol and spread the news throughout Europe.

The pilgrimage to the “Campo de las Estrellas”, to Compostela, begins with the march that Alfonso II makes there from Oviedo. The first of a series of countless pilgrims who will come from Europe, and then from other parts of the world.

What is “Xacobeo”?

The “Xacobeo”, or “Jacobeo”, is the celebration of the Compostelan Jubilee Holy Year. The Church offers special spiritual graces to those who come on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. It is not celebrated every year, only when the feast of Santiago, July 25, coincides with a Sunday. The first proclamation of the Jacobean Holy Year was announced by Pope Callixtus II in 1122, and was later confirmed by Alexander III in 1179 by the Papal Bull “Regis aeterni”, conferring perpetuity.

The Jubilee graces of the “Camino de Santiago”, the Plenary Indulgence, is reached when one goes on pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle to pray, after having received the sacrament of Reconciliation and receive Communion in the Eucharistic celebration.

What is “Compostela”?

It is a document granted by the ecclesiastical authorities that certifies having made a pilgrimage for religious reasons and completed at least one hundred kilometres on foot or on horseback, of any route of the Camino de Santiago (200km if done by bicycle).

Do not confuse reaching the Grace of the “Xacobeo” with the “Compostela”. The Jubilee grants the Plenary Indulgence to the pilgrim based on specific religious requirements. The Compostela accredits that he has gone to Santiago for religious reasons, by determined means and from makes distances.

You can actually reach the jubilee by travelling by different ways and it is possible to receive Compostela without reaching the jubilee.

What is the Plenary Indulgence?

The Holy Year of Compostela is the opportunity Roman Catholic Church gives us for obtaining the Plenary Indulgence, that is, the plain reconciliatory encounter with Christ.

With the Plenary Indulgence the repentant sinner receives a remission of the temporal punishment due for the sins already forgiven as regards the fault. In other words, to attain a New Life which restores the original holiness.

The Holy Door, which remains open during all Holy Year, represents the access to holiness the Plenary Indulgence gives us. The “Pórtico de la Gloria” demonstrates the reception of Christ, sitting on His throne, surrounded by the prophets, martyrs and all the saints. Saint Jacques is sitting, with his stick, open us the way, since is Santiago who led us to this place, to the door of the Heaven’s Glory.

We gain the “Jubileo”, that is, we gain the Plenary Indulgence when, after the pilgrimage to Santiago, we confess our sins, receive the Holy Communion, confess our faith and pray for the Church and the Pope.

“Caminos”, Ways.

From the beginning, the pilgrims used to start walking from their houses to the “House of Santiago” that is, to the cathedral. That is, there are as many “Caminos” as there are as many pilgrims. Nevertheless, the pilgrims, create the “Caminos” while walking. Those “Caminos” depended on different external factors such as the safety, the hospitals, the hostels, the bridges or the sanctuaries: sanctuaries were especially important for pilgrims as saint places to visit during the Way.

At time goes by, some of the routes were becoming more important; those routes are known the day of today as “Caminos de Santiago”.

We can mention the following ones:

“El Camino Francés”, French Way:

It takes this name because it was the most frequent way for the pilgrims who came from France. Nowadays is the most popular. In Spain it starts in Orreaga/Roncesvalles and it crosses Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, León, Astorga or Ponferrada. It arrives to Galicia in O Cebreiro.

“El Camino del Norte”, Northern Way:

The most ancient Camino which come from France. It runs along the cantabrian coast crossing Irun, Donostia/San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Gijón or Avilés. It arrives to Galicia in Ribadeo.

“El Camino Primitivo”, Primitive Way:

The route followed by the King Alfonso II which starts in Oviedo, crossing Asturias and Lugo.

“El Camino Inglés”, English Way:

Whose origin is the pilgrims which came from the British Islands by sea, arriving in La Coruña or Ferrol.

“El Camino Portugués”, Portuguese Way:

Different routes in Portugal (coast or interior) which arrive to Galicia in Tui.

¡Ultreia!! ¡Buen Camino!

The Camino in Bizkaia

The pilgrimage to Santiago through Bizkaia.

Two routes of the Camino de Santiago pass through Bizkaia. One of them is a part of the Camino de la Costa that, entering from Gipuzkoa through Markina, crosses Bizkaia for about 100 kilometres. It crosses Ziortza, Gernika, Bilbao, Portugalete and leaves through Kobaron to enter Cantabria.

The other route is called “Camino olvidado”, it is Forgotten Way. This is diverted in Bilbao, goes up the river Cadagua crossing his villages until it reaches Balmaseda, from where it enters the province of Burgos.

More information about the Camino in Bizkaia can be found on these web pages:

  1. History:
  2. Disfruta Bizkaia: el Camino de Santiago
  3. Forgotten Way:
  4. Association of the Ways of Biscay:

Schedules and activities for the pilgrim

Masses, contacts and pastoral activities for the pilgrim in Bizkaia.


Parishes in Bizkaia

En esta página recorreremos el Camino de Santiago a su paso por el Territorio Histórico de Bizkaia a través de los templos reconocidos por el Gobierno Vasco con la categoría de Monumento.

Asómate a conocer el interior de 28 inmuebles religiosos que sintetizan los valores patrimoniales, culturales y espirituales de una comunidad.


Information and news

Informaciones Diocesanas

  • Oración del Camino. En la parroquia de Santa María de Lezama los viernes a las 18:30 horas se organiza una oración en la que se reza por los peregrinos que al pasar inscriben su nombre en la puerta de la parroquia, y se les invita a participar. https://misas.org/p/parroquia-de-santa-maria-de-lezama-lezama
  • Oración-adoración diocesana del Camino de Santiago. Los terceros domingos de mes se celebra una oración-adoración diocesana en la catedral de Bilbao a las 19:00 horas en la que se invita a participar a todo peregrino que se encamina a Santiago.