St James Anglican Church and the Caminho

The Spanish word camino, Portuguese caminho, that means “way or path” is now used to describe the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela. Here is the tomb of the first apostle to be martyred, Saint James, or in Spanish, Santiago. Of course, modern pilgrims walk or bicycle these routes for a variety of reasons: as an opportunity to encounter God in a new context, to find space to reflect on their personal circumstances, to discover the history and culture of these Caminos, as a physical challenge and exercise.

Porto is the starting point for several Caminos/Caminhos. Our church has as its patron St James. The distance between our church and the cathedral is about 280km. If you are interested in forming a St James group to walk all or part of the way to Santiago, perhaps next May or September, have a word with Fr Colin or one of the wardens.

An article written by a lady from Cascais, who walked the route recently

St James the Apostle

According to tradition, the body of the apostle James (San Tiago – Santiago) is buried in the cathedral of the city that carries his name, Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia. One of Jesus' disciples, James, was the first of the apostles to be martyred (Act 12.2). His body was taken from Judea to Galicia, where he had preached the Good News.

The place of his burial was rediscovered in the C9th and, in the following centuries, drew an increasing number of pilgrims from all parts of Europe. The Portuguese word Caminho which means “way” is used to describe these routes used by pilgrims past and present.

Since the 1980s there has been a growing interest in following these Caminhos that lead to Santiago de Compostela. Often the idea of pilgrimage and “going on the Caminho” are interchangeable.

picture of a pilgrim's scallop shell


There are as many reasons as people for going on the Caminho. That reason may be religious or spiritual, while others are drawn to cultural or sporting aspects; for many the Caminho gives space and time for personal reflection. Some feel the call to experience the Caminho but are not able to describe exactly why. All these are aspects of modern pilgrimage – the desire to put on a rucksack, leave home and embrace, at least for a while, a different pace and way of living.

Today, the symbols of the Caminho are a scallop shell, yellow arrow waymarking, a rucksack and the pilgrim credential used to collect a carimbo/sello as a visible record of walking the Caminho.

St James Anglican Church and the Caminho

Porto has become an important starting place for the Caminho whether along the coast or inland on the central route. Although there is no official departure point many choose to commence their pilgrimage at Porto's cathedral or at Matosinhos.

The route of the Central Caminho passes along Rua de Cedofeita, and St James is located a short distance off that historic street.

Here at St James, we offer pilgrims welcome, a chat and information about their pilgrimage. Pilgrims are welcome at our Sunday 11am Eucharist and receive a blessing as well as having their credential stamped. When the church has open days (usually Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer) we are also available to greet pilgrims. For further information contact either the Chaplain or the Churchwardens. This church is one of the few in Porto that are dedicated to the Apostle and so has, for many a deep significance – beginning at a church dedicated to St James the Apostle and completing their Caminho to honour the Apostle in the cathedral that bears his name.

picture of pilgrims