February 12, 2004

A Brief History of the Volunteer Hosts

Throughout the process which I have briefly described, a network of “buildings” dedicated to Jacobean hospitality has been established over the last few years. But hospitality is not a question of buildings, but rather of people who offer hospitality. In this sense, the work of volunteer hosts of the Camino de Santiago, sponsored and coordinated by the Federacion ode Asociaciones (Federation of Associations), has had a significant impact and has given many pilgrims the opportunity to give back part of what they received from the Camino during their pilgrimage. This work also offers pilgrims a warm and friendly welcome in which personal relationship and gratefulness are the central elements of the welcoming. It is clear that in the summer of 1990 when Lourdes Lluch 1 goes to Hornillos del Campo to “spend” her vacation to take care of pilgrims, she is not inventing Jacobean hospitality. In earlier times there we many people who were devoted to welcoming pilgrims on a regular basis, but begins a movement which, without trying to invent anything given the fact that earlier centuries there were people dedicated to welcoming pilgrims in monasteries and hospitals, brings a unique style to hospitality that, undoubtedly, has had a great impact during recent years and has been a reference point for all those who have devoted themselves to welcoming and caring for pilgrims.

Peregrino: “A Spanish pilgrim has decided to spend the month of July in a rented house in a small village along the Camino to offer lodging to pilgrims passing by. If anyone is interested in continuing this and can work during the month of August, please contact our editorial staff.” 2.

Months later, the column that talked about the hosts made it obvious that the previous summer’s experience had been a success and an invitation was extended to all the readers [of Peregrino magazine]: “Former pilgrims who would like to devote part of the summer to taking care of refuges along the Camino can write to our editorial staff, indicating the dates when they are available to work.” 3.

Since that summer when Lourdes Lluch began her experience in Hornillos del Campo, very little time has passed in terms of years, but the experience has had a big influence given that several hundred pilgrims, like Lourdes, after doing their pilgrimage have devoted themselves to living on the Camino in a different way, from the perspective of one who takes care of others rather than one who is taken care of.

1 En el Congreso de Estella, Lourdes Lluch presentó una comunicación sobre su experiencia en Hornillos del Camino. Cfr. Actas del Congreso de Estella, separata de la Revista PEREGRINO nº 15-16.

2 “PEREGRINO” magazine nº 13, may 1990.

3 “PEREGRINO” magazine nº 15-16, november 1990

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