You may have heard of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain (if not, see our Get Fed on the subject here). Maybe you’ve had the blessing of going on this life-changing pilgrimage yourself.
But did you know that we have a “Camino” right here in the United States?
That’s right. And although it’s a long way from Spain, it has a very Spanish flair.
The “American Camino” is variously called the California Mission Trail, El Camino Real (the “Royal Road,” for the Spanish monarchy), or the Camino Americano (okay, we made that one up). It stretches along the California coast, connecting the twenty-one Spanish missions founded by the Franciscans in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Nine of these missions were founded by St. Junípero Serra himself, whose feast we celebrate today. His feast falls appropriately close to our nation’s birthday—he is, after all, one of our great American saints and one who literally blazed a trail through today’s California.
The American Camino starts at Mission San Diego and ends at Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma. It’s 800 miles long, mostly follows Highway 101, and contains some of the most magnificent views to be found anywhere in the US. Actually, anywhere in the world.
Just like the Spanish Camino, the American Camino has its own certificate of completion that you can obtain when you complete it. And be sure to get your California Mission passport stamped at each mission along the way!
Also, take pictures. We want to see them.
Of course, you’ll need some grub to power yourself through all those miles on the Mission Trail. How about some jericalla, a traditional California Mission dessert? You’ll find a recipe for it on St. Junípero’s feast day in the liturgically-arranged Cooking with the Saints. With recipes inspired by the saints’ homelands and ministries—paired with their fascinating life-stories—this bestselling cookbook is a wonderful way to build your friendship with the saints. Order one for yourself and one for a friend today!