Camino de Santiago trekkers value each unique stamp that they gather in their passports as they walk across Spain. Albergues and bars mark their signatures that certify each pilgrim’s progress toward Santiago, where compostelas are issued.
For us, the Credencial del Peregrino holds memories of albergue stays and many of our stops for coffee or a beer at the end of each day. During our trek, we carefully collected stamps, including two per day beginning in Sarria, required for the completion certificate. Today, though, the stamps in our passports hold more meaning for us than the compostelas. When I look at the stamp from our first albergue, Camino del Perdon in Uterga, I remember our first pilgrim meal, where we met four people who would become treasured friends.
Last year, we carried a Credenziale del Pellegrino along the Way of St. Francis in Italy, collecting stamps at each accommodation and some bars in order to earn our Testimonium at the Vatican. Most of the stamps lack the creativity of the Camino, but that doesn’t really matter.
A plain business stamp from Valfabbrica, Italy, recalls a wonderful moment a year ago on my birthday, when I sat with a glass of beer outside a rustic bar just a couple of feet from the road. The pink sign above my head proclaimed, “Pinky Bar.”