Pilgrims arriving in Santiago with stamped credentials to document their pilgrimage journey are eligible to receive a certificate of completion called the Compostela from the pilgrims office (Oficina de Acogida de Peregrinos, Rua do Vilar 1) near the Cathedral of St. James. Upon presentation of a stamped pilgrim credential verifying that you have walked at least the last 100 km or cycled the last 200 km and that your journey was for religious or spiritual purposes, you will receive a certification of completion or Compostela.
There is a different form of the Compostela given when you list others reasons for the walk such as cultural or touristic. This non-religious pilgrimage purpose document is more like a “Welcome to Santiago” letter.
The Compostela, presented to religious and spiritual pilgrims, is printed in Latin and translates as follows:
The Chapter of this Holy Apostolic Metropolitan Cathedral of St. James, custodian of the seal of St. James’ Altar, to all faithful and pilgrims who come from everywhere over the world as an act of devotion, under vow or promise to the Apostle’s Tomb, our Patron and Protector of Spain, witnesses in the sight of all who read this document, that Ms _____ had visited devoutly this Sacred Church in a religious sense (pietatis causa).
Witness whereof I hand this document over to herm, authenticated by the seal of this Sacred Church. Given in St. James de Compostela on the (day) …(month)…A.D.
In medieval Catholicism, the Camino pilgrimage was done as an act of indulgence or repentance of sins. The Compostela certificate of completion was issued to the pilgrim upon arrival in Santiago. The Compostela bearer was entitled to forgiveness of sins or crimes and a reduction by half of their time in purgatory. A Compostela obtained in a Holy Year rewarded the pilgrim with a full indulgence.
There are services in Santiago that will laminate your Compostela to preserve it and make it suitable for framing. You have earned the privilege to display your certificate of pilgrimage completion proudly.