The Credencial

The Credencial (pilgrim’s passport) is the successor to the “documents of safe conduct” given to medieval pilgrims. Nowadays there is only one official Credencial issued and recognised by the Pilgrims’ Office. It is available by applying in person from the Pilgrims’ Office or from other organisations authorised to distribute the official Credencial, such as Churches, Amigos groups, albergues etc. In some countries other than Spain voluntary organisations such as Confraternities who support the pilgrimage to Santiago have been permitted to supply their own Credenciales.

The Credencial issued by the Cathedral is printed on card and consists of 14 panels which open out for ease of use. Above is an illustration of the first and last pages. The first page functions as a letter of recommendation and should be filled in with the pilgrim’s details by the organisation issuing it.

The Credencial also clearly states that pilgrims should obtain at least two sellos per day. You must ensure that you do this at least in the last 100 kms from the Cathedral of Santiago if you are walking or on horseback and 200 kms if you are travelling by bicycle.

There is a special space for the final stamp of the Cathedral on arrival in Santiago.

The Credencial then has panels with boxes in which sellos should be collected. These are usually collected by pilgrims in the place where they sleep such as an albergue. They can also be obtained in Churches, hostales, ayuntamientos and many other places along the routes to Santiago.

Finally, one of the pages contains the following directions for use:

  • This Credencial is only intended for use by those pilgrims who will walk, go on horseback or cycle and who desire to make the pilgrimage with a Christian motivation or at least in the spirit of searching. It is intended to identify the pilgrim. Therefore the issuing organisation must be a parish, a confraternity, Association of the Amigos of the Camino to Santiago and the like. The Credencial bestows no rights on the pilgrim. It has two practical purposes: admission to those albergues which offer Christian hospitality along the way; and to obtain the Compostela from the Cathedral in Santiago which certifies the pilgrimage has been completed.
  • The Compostela is only issued to those who have made the pilgrimage with a Christian motivation: devotonis affectul vel voti pietatis causa – motivated by devotion, a vow or piety.
  • The Compostela is also only issued to those who arrive at the Tomb of the Apostle having travelled on foot or on horseback the last 100kms, or 200kms by bicycle.
  • The Pilgrim Credencial can only be issued by the Church through its own structures: Dioceses, parishes, confraternities or other bodies authorised by the Church. This is the only way the Credencial can be obtained from the S.A.M.I. Cathedral of Santiago (Jornadas sobre el Año Santo: noviembre 1993).
  • Albergues provide simple accommodation. They do not receive grants for their upkeep and need to be sustained, cleaned and maintained. This is achieved through the contributions of pilgrims.
  • Organised groups with a support vehicle or on bicycles are asked to find alternative accommodation from the pilgrim albergues.
  • The bearer of the Credencial accepts these conditions.

Pilgrim Blessing – printed on the back of the Credencial there is a Pilgrim Blessing:

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, receive this rucksack, the habit of your pilgrimage, so that, having atoned, you hasten to prostrate yourself at Saint James’ feet, where you yearn to arrive and, after having completed your journey, you come to us joyful with the help of God, who rules over the world without end. Amen.
Receive this staff as support for the journey and your efforts during your pilgrimage so that you are able to overcome the hoards of enemies and thus arrive safely at Saint James’ feet and, after having completed your journey, you come to us joyful with the assent of the same God, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

(Codex Calixtinus Sermón “Veneranda dies” Li, 17 Century)

Pilgrim Prayer – printed on the map in the Credencial there is also a Pilgrim’s Prayer:

St James, Apostle, chosen among the first, you were the first to drink the cup of the Master and you are the great protector of pilgrims. Make us strong in faith and happy in hope on our pilgrim journey, following the path of Christian life, and sustain us so that we may finally reach the glory of God the Father. Amen

Where to obtain the official Pilgrims’ Credencial

From Confraternities of Santiago, from approved Associations in Spain and from approved Associations in other countries.