For those of you who do not follow Saints or know of many, I ‘d like to introduce one in particular because of my walk along the El Camino in 2004. I am sure it has changed a lot since then, but some things stay the same, (they just should not change). What are they? I will tell you after you read a little of this Saint.
Bona was born in 1156 in Pisa, Italy. At a young age, she was devoted to deep prayer, but she also experienced visions, and what makes this personal for me, is that she had them especially with Saint James the Greater. The Saint that walked the El Camino, as I did, but obviously, not with what is present today.
This Saint Bona made many pilgrimages to Jerusalem, and her father was imprisoned by pirates, as she was too. Fast forward, she was freed and began to plan her next trip to the Shrine of her beloved, Saint James, Santiago de Compostela, in northern Spain.
Bona led pilgrims on the thousand-mile-journey from Pisa to Santiago de Compostela, attending always to the need of the pilgrims. Bona died after becoming ill in 1207.
When I walked the El Camino, it was a hardship for me in many ways, of which I will eventually write about, but the one thing that never changed was the spiritual strength I received while journeying alone for 5 days, separated from my group, staying in Albergue’s (not the choice of many but do so due to lack of money and they want to experience the true pilgrimage itself; which many prefer the Hostels, for simplicity and comfort.) I would absolutely consider this should I travel again on a different route).
What should not change? The experience of the soul and the reason one does the “Way”. Landscape, Culture, and the relationships you may establish along the way. I don’t know one person who has not had a renewed spirit after their journey.
So, for those that may be planning the El Camino in the future, look up this Saint and carry her along the way. Buen Camino!!!