The old pilgrims carried safe-conducts that served as letters of introduction allowing them to travel the Way of Saint James and enjoy the hospitality of the people who lived there. Today, and after some variations, the document that every pilgrim must carry with them is The Credential. This unique passport allows its owner to stamp the stamp, along with the date and signature of the hostel or place where he or she passes through on their way, accrediting their passage and giving them both the right to stay in the hostels and the obligation to accept the conditions of their use. Furthermore, when you arrive in Santiago de Compostela, with it duly completed, you can request the so longed for Compostela. We can obtain the Credential in different places such as the associations of friends of the Way, the most usual starting points or in bishoprics and parishes. Also at the initiative of the University of Navarra, the Jacobean University Credential or Accreditation has been created, providing the same rights as the previous ones, but with the obligation to complete the chosen Way and not the last 100 or 200 kilometers.
It is important to stamp the credentials at least in each place where we finish the stage and from the last 100 km if we go on foot or 200 km if we do it by bike or horse, it is not superfluous to stamp an intermediate stamp in each stage covered. There are usually some cases of picaresque and although it is not very common we should not forget to stamp the Credential properly to avoid problems in the hostels or when claiming the Compostela. There are many stamps that we will find on the Way some of them truly original and beautiful, unfortunately the spaces available for them in our credential are limited so we find the dilemma of which to choose when sealing.
Therefore it is increasingly common to find pilgrims who carry several credentials, one for correct use and another for the collection of different stamps or also, those who are not willing to over cost more credentials keep track of the places where they pass in a separate notebook, filled in turn the official credential.
La Compostelana, provided we have travelled the last 100 km on foot or 200 km if by bike or on horseback, awaits us on our arrival in Santiago. To do so, we must go to the pilgrim reception office located on Rúa das Carretas and there hand in the Credential that attests to our pilgrimage. The Compostelana is a document in Latin with the supposed ornamentation, it will be given to us immediately and it will contain our data together with the date and the signature of the Chapter Secretary of the Church of Compostela. Once in our house, proud of the mosaic of stamps, which together with the Compostelan one credit us and remind us of our passage through the different points of the Way, it is our turn to protect the ink of the different stamps to avoid their gradual disappearance, since with the passing of the years they will be almost invisible. To do this today there are several possibilities to ensure better conservation, scanning the document or apply special varnishes are some of them.
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