The Scallop Shell

The scallop shell has long been considered a symbol of the Camino de Santiago. The shell is seen on posts and signs along the route. Its relevance may have originally come from a desire for pilgrims to take home a souvenir from the shores of Galicia. Now it has become the symbol of myths and legends. The grooves in the scallop shell meet at a single point and this, metaphorically, could represent all the pilgrims travelling different routes until they arrive at their single destination, the tomb of St. James in the city of Santiago de Compostela.

I love this idea that at the end of the journey we all come together, pilgrims of the past and future, pilgrims all merging in thoughts, feelings, and friendship becoming one in their devotion.  As a child I was told if you drilled a hole through the central core of the world, your tunnel would emerge in Spain, so I have always felt a connection to my friends, yet to be met, on the other side of the world. I always wondered exactly where my tunnel would end, perhaps in Galicia?

Sir Walter Raleigh wrote about the pilgrimage–

Give me my scallop shell of quiet;                                                                                                                                               

My staff of faith to walk upon;                                                                                                                                                           

My scrip of joy, immortal diet;                                                                                                                                                        

My bottle of salvation;                                                                                                                                                                           

My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,                                                                                                                          

And then I’ll take my pilgrimage.

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