It has been a busy pilgrim year here in ”Ultima Thule". The Confraternity of St James Norway has produced a new credential with graphic maps showing the pilgrim route from The Norwegian city Trondheim, the pilgrim site of Olav the Saint, to Santiago. More than 800 pilgrim passports have been issued.
Five official Pilgrim-centres have been established this year; in Gran, Dovre mountain, Hamar, Hundorp and Oslo. The one at Gran was opened by the Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg a few weeks ago. These centres have been funded by public money. In addition we have a successful Pilgrim’s office run by the Confraternity for the past 16 years. This office is situated in the city of Oslo. At present we have close to 1200 members, not bad for a small protestant country of 4,6 million.
Ninety-eight percent of the Norwegian pilgrims visiting our office prefer the French and Spanish Caminos, most of them walk for two weeks. Some begin their journey in Roncevalles or Le Puy, doing the whole Camino in one stretch.
In Norway we have way marked 2000 km of pilgrim roads. Sadly they are not well maintained and in places the way marking is not up to the desired standard. The system of accommodation is good however, and not expensive compare to ordinary Norwegian prices for accomodation. We have simple accommodations every 20 km or so, most at farms.
We also have a St James office in Trondheim. Our friends here - Bente Berg og Gunnar Hokstad - have produced a Via Plata guide and will publish a Madrid-guide next year.
The experiment of taking inmates out for pilgrimage is a successful project and we have been involved with it for the past five years. Some inmates walk one week, others up to three weeks. This is a project initiated by our pilgrim organization and it is funded by the Department of Justice.
At the moment there are some brave long distance pilgrims walking in rainy Norway. One is from New Zealand, Susan Legg, and is walking all the way (about 4500 km) - “wrong way” from Trondheim to Santiago. The second is a german, Benjamin. He started in Lofoten - further north. I also want to mention our chairman Trond Muri. He is walking from Oslo to Bethlehem and does it by using two to three weeks every year, one stretch after another. He is inspired by the famous Norwegian author Jostein Gaarders book (The Christmas Mystery), who wrote a short story about a pilgrimage.
- by Eivind Luthen