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To the Field of Stars: A Pilgrim’s Journey to Santiago de Compostela

Wm B Eerdmans, 2008 

RRP $27.95

Reviewed by Bob Warrick.

 Since going on pilgrimages in Europe and Britain [by coach I should add!], I have had a curiosity about the ninth century medieval pilgrimage across the northern part of  Spain to Santiago de Compostela the traditional burial place of the apostle James the Greater.

 The word ‘pilgrim’ is familiar to us.  We sing that we are pilgrims on a journey and travellers on the road in TiS 650, and amongst our worship resources is the statement of faith in which we declare that we are a pilgrim people, always on the way towards a promised goal.  But ‘pilgrimage’ as an experience less familiar to us.

And so I turned to ‘To the field of Stars’ to read one pilgrim’s account of what it was like to undertake this 35 day 800 km journey on foot sometimes alongside busy highways and sometimes on winding steep mountainous tracks. 

Through Kevin Codd, a Roman Catholic priest working in Belguim, we meet other pilgrims including some Aussies, we visit numerous towns, their refugios [hostels for pilgrims] and their churches.  We are introduced to the spiritual significance of the people around him, his surroundings and his experiences. We meet caring, encouragement and community.

 Codd journeys incognito, his vocation emerging only in some personal conversations and we are treated to some  things he said to fellow pilgrims.  Eg on p195, as he talked with one about confession and forming our consciences –

That which hurts us, diminishes us, or in any way makes us less human, less than what God created us to be, that is evil. That which makes us our best selves, that which promotes us, heals us, strengthens us, makes us love and trust one another, that which leads us to God, that is good. 

 The pages look heavy as paragraphs are long but I found it not hard to become engrossed as I journeyed with Codd.