Date of Award

Spring 4-11-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Kathryn McClymond

Second Advisor

Dr. Molly Bassett

Third Advisor

Dr. David Bell


Despite its nearly thousand year history as a Christian penitent ritual, the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage has undergone rapid transformation in the last three decades, attracting a specific community of people who see themselves as “authentic” Camino pilgrims. Upon arrival at the shrine of Santiago, the traditional end of the pilgrimage route, many pilgrims express feelings of dissatisfaction. Drawing upon field research and interviews, this paper analyzes the practices of pilgrims along the Camino de Santiago route, at the shrine in Santiago de Compostela, and at the alternative conclusion site in the Galician coastal town of Finisterre. I argue that pilgrim dissatisfaction relates to pilgrim experiences in Santiago that are incongruous with their pilgrimage up until that point. In response, pilgrims have created alternative ritual conclusions that more closely relate to their experience on the Camino route and affirm their identity as “authentic” pilgrims.