One of the first things I read about when researching the Camino de Santiago is La Crendencial del Peregrino or the Pilgrim’s Passport. Although strictly speaking not part of your wearable gear, you will definitely need (and want) one of these in your backpack when walking the Way. But why do you need one of these in the first place and where can you get one? I’ll be telling you all about today : )
why do you need a Credencial del Peregrino?
The Credencial is the camino memento – a memory of your journey materialised as a cardboard passport filled with all sort of stamps. Local churches, refugios and albergues, which pilgrims find on their way to Santiago, provide these stamps. Your stamped Credencial eventually serves as a record of where you have been, which is important at the end of your pilgrimage; only those who have walked 100 kilometres and performed the pilgrimage with a religious or spiritual intention are able to receive a Compostela. The Compostela is a certificate stating you have completed the pilgrimage. An alternative certificate is available for those that have completed the Way with other motivations.
Perhaps, more importantly, the Credendial does not only function as “proof” of your journey; it also identifies you as a pilgrim on their way to Santiago. When showing this identification to someone, it asks the reader to lend support and aid if necessary. In this way, it provides the bearer with some form of protection. That could mean, for example, a cheap or free overnight stay in one of the albergues.
where can you get a Credencial del Peregrino?
The Credencial is not hard to find, you can obtain one at your national St. James Society. Believe it or not, but your country probably has one! Usually the Credencial does not cost a great deal, think a couple of euros. Is yours full and haven’t you reached Santiago yet? No worries, you can purchase one on the road as well.
I received my Credencial after joining the Dutch St. Jacob society, which is called Het Nederlands Genootschap van Sint Jacob. I became a member to support all the work they perform and information they provide to help pilgrims on their journey. Receiving the Credencial was something special. As my name was written on it, it felt rather official… all of a sudden the idea of going on a pilgrimage became a reality!
Therefore, even if you are not interested in acquiring a certificate on completing your Camino, you might want to bring a Credencial to collect some beautiful stamps and capture the memory of your Camino journey.