There are many books on the practical aspects of the Camino (logistics, what to bring, how to get around). This is not one of them. Instead it may very well be the best book in English suitable for any reader. Most of the Camino books treat the pilgrimage as something entirely naturalistic, like the Appalachian Trail; if they get "spiritual" at all, it is only in the sense of a New Age kind of easy spirituality, or perhaps a kind of psychological journey. Father Markey's book is entirely different. The Camino is an ancient CATHOLIC pilgrimage route and the book is written by a truly faithful Catholic "peregrino"(pilgrim). It includes the history of Santiago - starting back in the Bible - as well as something most people are not aware of - references to the historical accuracy of this place as the tomb of St. James. The book also includes Pope Benedict's beautiful homily at the Cathedral Compostela during the Jubilee Year of 2010.
The rest of the book is a journal of Father Markey's trip with his own reflections. You will learn things you probably didn't know, for example about the Spanish Civil War (as he says, most of what people are told is from Hemingway or communist sources, and though there were atrocities on both sides, completely innocent Catholics suffered disproportionately). But beyond all that is a truthful account of faith, hope, and charity, of benefit to everyone on their "camino" through life.
It is a short, small book - only 71 pages - and I plan to buy a dozen to give as gifts, as there is nothing else like it in English! If you want a more scholarly, detailed book, you can also get "The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela: First English Translation with Introduction, Commentaries, and Notes" by William Melczer. Also, "To The Field of Stars" by Kevin Codd is also very good. He writes as a Catholic who wants to welcome non-Catholics along his journey, so he is much more circumscribed than Father Markey. But for a pure believer's approach to the Camino, this is the book to get.
When this tiny book was first placed in my hands it was a bit misleading. I was discussing with friends the movie "The Way" that I had just seen. I liked the movie but wished that it had gone into more detail about the pilgrimage. My son then gave me this book to read. Since it is a small book I thought that it would be an easy read that could be read in a couple of hours. I was so wrong!!!! This book is a treasure and each page is jammed full of good knowledge and makes one feel as though they are actually on the pilgrimage. I need to take time out to just digest what I have just read. There is so much food for thought and very inspiring that I must do this. I wish that I had read this before seeing the movie and I intend to watch the movie again after finishing the book. I am constantly highlighting excerps so that I can go bacl to the pages again and again. I just ordered another book to give back to my son and bought an additional three books to give to friends. I highly recommend this book.
So happy I found this book. My husband an I are planning on going on the Camino De Santiago later this year and have been looking for Catholic books to read in preparation. Sadly, there are so few Catholic books for this Catholic Pilgrimage, and all the reading material is trying so hard to appeal to secular travelers that it almost seems like Catholic pilgrims are not welcome on the Camino. This was a breath of fresh air, and a wonderful read. Definitely recommend to others.
Father Markey deserves great thanks for answering the call to have this book published. His gentle, yet knowledgeable and efficient teaching of the Catholic faith to those he meets on this pilgrimage has been a true lesson for me. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the outdoors or wants to know better how to reach out to their follow man.