When Padre Rodrigo Valdez returned to his parish Parroquia San Pablo Apóstol in Buenos Aires, Argentina after six years in Rome he found a letter waiting for him. Due to bad timing, he just missed seeing his superior that himself was on his way to Rome. The letter personally thanked Padre Valdez for all his years of service in Rome at his superior’s command and personally welcomed him home. Padre Valdez says this is the personal and direct style is a cornerstone of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s teaching and ways as is already obvious from his first weeks as Pope Francis.
While in Rome, Padre Valdez took a month to walk the El Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James. Several routes across Europe traces the religious pilgrimage that started in the 9th century upon the discovery of the tomb of Apostle James the Great in Spain’s Galicia. Modern pilgrims get certified for their trek at 100 kilometers, or 200 kilometers if bicycling. Padre Valdez chose to walk the Camino Francés’s 800 kilometers, almost 500 miles.
Along the way, he met up with pilgrims of all different religions and backgrounds. While some may not have lived by all of the teaching set by his Catholic Church, the lessons he learned growing up in the diverse city of Buenos Aires and reinforced by Pope Francis compassionate and intimate example led to strong friendships that continue to today.
Map of El Camino de Santigo (French Way)
View Camino de Santiago – The Way of St. James in a larger map
Photo credit: Rodrigo Valdez
Map photo credit: By historicair 17:25, 16 November 2006 (UTC) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons