The Compostela

Upon arrival at the Cathedral I received my Compostela, the certificate that testifies that I’ve completed my pilgrimage.

Because it’s written in Latin, I fed the text to Google Translate to see what it meant:

….. of the church of Compostella, the keeper of the seal of the altar of St. James the apostle (…) at the shrine of St James, the apostles of our nostrils, (….) Lord Peter van der Veen (…) completing the journey on foot or horseback, or after the last one hundred meters, two hundred years after his bicycle (…). In faith whereof, this present letter, sealed with the seal of the same Holy Church of the fenced cities (….)

Either the whiz kids at Google had goofed up the Latin translation engine or the deans at the cathedral had a laugh with the pilgrims…


The photo above was taken during a so called botafumeiro (fumigation with incense), which was originally performed to remove the stench of throngs of pilgrims that hadn’t seen water or soap for  months. These days, with the albergues all equiped with running water and washing machines, it’s only to be witnessed on rare occasions. Eight men pulled the ropes and swung the giant incense burner (80 kg) through the cathedral until it nearly hit the ceiling.

After that the cathedral smelled better than before.


One thought on “The Compostela

  1. Jim Long

    “The Apostles of our Nostrils”….halarious! Jay and I arrived in Santiago on the 4th, looked for you but to no avail, figured you had a blow out on your flip flop. We caught a flight out on the 5th back to Barcelona. It was nice to have met you and thanks for all the tips and encouragement. Hope to run into you again on the trail somewhere. Buen Camino, Jim


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