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Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine Hosts Events to Open the Camino de la Unidad on July 25

St. Augustine has been on the map since 1565, but now it’s on a new map as the anchor for the new Camino de la Unidad, which will become a network of pilgrimage routes in the Americas. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine is a founding member of the Alliance of Cathedrals and will serve as the cornerstone of the Camino de la Unidad when it opens on July 25.

The Cathedral Alliance is an association formed by historic and culturally rich cathedrals from different parts of the world. Its main objective is to strengthen the importance of these cathedrals as tourist destinations and as centers of spirituality and culture, enriching the experience of visitors and promoting intercultural understanding and dialogue.

Since its initial involvement in 2010, the Diocese of St. Augustine and the City of St. Augustine has played a vital role in the Alliance of Cathedrals of the Camino de la Unidad project. As one of the founding cathedrals, the Cathedral Basilica joins the cathedrals of Cuzco in Peru, Córdoba and Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Last year, a delegation comprised of citizens, representing the academic, cultural, historical, government and religious sectors of St. Augustine traveled to Spain to solidify their membership in the Alliance of Cathedrals and St. Augustine’s connection to the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. A visible sign of that connection is a statue of St. James, fashioned after one found at Santiago Cathedral’s entrance. The statue, sculpted by Juan Vega returned with the delegation and will permanently reside in the west courtyard of the Cathedral Basilica.

On July 25, St. Augustine will be dressed in splendor to launch the commemorative events of the Camino de la Unidad. This ceremony will gather prominent religious, governmental and academic representatives from Spain and the Americas, marking a milestone in the history of the city and the Alliance of Cathedrals.

The program of activities for July 25 (rain or shine):

Procession of the Statue of St. James 

The procession begins at 6 p.m. from the Castillo de San Marcos (1 S. Castillo Drive, St. Augustine) and ends at the Cathedral Basilica (38 Cathedral Place, St. Augustine). A solemn procession will accompany the statue of St. James through the streets of St. Augustine. The Historic Florida Militia and the Royal Family of St. Augustine will join representatives of the faith community, city officials and historians in the procession. The public is invited to participate.

Celebration of Mass at the Cathedral Basilica

At 7 p.m., a Mass will be celebrated by Father John Tetlow, pastor of the Cathedral Basilica. Historically, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine is the “first parish” of the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in what is now the contiguous United States. The Mass will be celebrated for the Feast of St. James in honor of the beginning of the Camino de la Unidad and will include prominent religious leaders and other dignitaries.

Private Reception at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche

Following Mass, a private reception will be hosted by the National Shrine (101 San Marco Ave.) bringing together dignitaries and representatives of the Alliance of Cathedrals.

During these events, attendees will have an opportunity to witness the presence of a notable sculpture of St. James the Apostle (Santiago) commissioned by Francisco S. Guitard, president of the Nauta Institute. This sculpture, blessed and dedicated last year during a special journey to Spain, holds a significant place in the celebration. It represents the unity and shared history between St. Augustine and the Camino de la Unidad, emphasizing the cultural and spiritual connections rooted in this project.

In addition, pilgrims will be provided with an official credential, allowing them to explore the different points of the Camino in St. Augustine as part of their journey in the historic city. The miles covered in this stage will be equivalent to those in the Iberian Peninsula, meaning that those who complete 100 km can proceed directly to the Cathedral of Santiago, where they can have their credentials stamped and receive a mileage certificate.

The Camino de la Unidad

The Camino de la Unidad opens on July 25. Pilgrims will be able to purchase an official credential (passport) recognized by the Pilgrim’s Office in Spain. All kilometers walked on the officially established routes and documented using officially recognized stamps will count towards the 100 km minimum distance required to receive a Pilgrim’s Certificate in Santiago de Compostela. The first two locations issuing the stamps will be the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine and the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche at Mission Nombre de Dios in July. The Baby Steps Camino ™ (https://www.babystepscamino.com), presented annually by the Order of Malta, is a newly approved route of the Camino de la Unidad whose mileage will now count towards the Camino in Spain.

We are pleased to introduce a “Camino” mobile application, designed to assist pilgrims in discovering the various points along the Camino and managing the necessary stamps to complete their credentials. This innovative tool provides an official digital credential standardized in collaboration with the Cathedral of Santiago.

The significance of these events extends beyond St. Augustine, as they reinforce the Alliance of Cathedral’s role to promote cultural and spiritual ties between Santiago de Compostela and the entire American continent. St. Augustine, as a founding cathedral, becomes a living symbol of this historical and spiritual connection.

For more information about the Alliance of Cathedrals of the Camino de la Unidad and the scheduled activities in St. Augustine on July 25, call Katy Lockard, director of Archives and Records Management for the Diocese of St. Augustine, at (904) 262-3200, ext. 120 or by email at santiago@dosafl.com.

Background Information
Related Article
Bishop Demetrio Fernández González of Córdoba, Spain, blesses the statue of St. James the Great at a Mass in the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, Spain. a member of the Alliance of Cathedrals. Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Brandon Forschino.
The 14-member delegation from the diocese and the City of St. Augustine traveled to Spain in July 2022 as part of the Alliance of Cathedrals of the Camino. Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Brandon Forschino.
Sculptor and artist Juan Vega works on a statue of St. James the Great. The statue was blessed before it was brought back to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Brandon Forschino.
In this captivating image, we witness the skilled hands of sculptor and artist Juan Vega as he meticulously crafts a magnificent statue depicting St. James the Great. Prior to its return to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, the statue was reverently blessed, adding a profound spiritual significance to its awe-inspiring beauty. Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Brandon Forschino.

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