Medieval Studies Associate Director Dr. Christina Bruno and History PhD candidate Rachel Podd led a class of Fordham undergraduates on a portion of the Camino de Santiago at the conclusion of the University’s Spring semester. The group met in León on May 21st before setting out on May 23rd. They walked 200 miles through northern Spain on the Camino Frances, ultimately arriving in Santiago de Compostela on June 6th. Along the way, they stopped at several historically significant cities, seeing firsthand many of the things they learned about during the semester. The class, running for its thirteenth year at Fordham, taught about the nature and history of pilgrimage, with a specific focus on the Camino and on the history of late medieval Spain. Students read accounts of medieval and modern pilgrimage, concentrating on the question of what it really means to be a pilgrim. The class culminated in the actual experience of pilgrimage through Spain, which served as a capstone for the class and, for the seniors, a capstone on their college experience as a whole.
Though the Camino is an ostensibly religious undertaking, far more important than any external influences is the coherence and character of the group. The nature of the Camino experience is, of necessity, determined by the people who embark on it with you and alongside whom you undergo the transformation from student to pilgrim. I can personally say that this group was of the highest quality, and each person improved my Camino immensely.