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Best Book in English on the Catholic Camino
on August 24, 2011
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.