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Tuesday, March 18, 2014


A New Certificate on the Camino Santiago

A new Certificate is being issued this year in Santiago.  
It is called the "Cotolaya."

In 1214, St. Francis of Assisi visited 
Santiago de Compostela.
There he founded a convent.

The legend, 
described in an inscription on the wall of the convent,
tells how a coal man named Cotolay
began the building.

While praying on the mountain, St. Francis 
was told by God
that his order of begging friars should found convents, 
beginning in Santiago.
St. Francis was struck with fever and blindness.
A young coal man, Cotolay, 
promised to build the convent for him.

Cotolay persuaded the abbot 
of St. Martin's Benedictine Manastery 
to grant a parcel of land as large as a bull's skin
in return for a basket full of fish.

The abbot agreed,
believing all would come to naught.
However, Cotolay brilliantly cut the skin into thin strips 
and marked out
a far larger plot of land than anticipated.

Next, he asked the cathedral master mason Mateo
to donate a pile of stones
and arranged to have loggers transport them to the site
in a competition of strength.

After Mateo constructed the convent,
St. Francis was taken to the new building 
where his sight was restored.

Since then, 
Francisans have paid tribute to St. Martin
with a basket of local trout.

* * *
A stamp is also being issued to commemorate St. Francis' Pilgrimage.

The Cotolaya will be issued 
at the Church of San Francisco de Santiago 
to commemorate 800 years 
since St. Francis walked the Camino Santiago.

It is offered to those pilgrims 
who walk to the tomb of St. James 
under the protection of St. Francis of Assisi.

In order to receive the Cotolaya you must do the following:

1) Walk at least the last 100 km

2) Walk to the tomb of St. James under the protection of St. Francis of Assisi

3) Visit the Convent de San Francisco in Santiago.

You can receive the Cotolay
your regular Compostela.

You can pick up your Credential 
in O Cebreiro.

I am checking to see if it is possible 
to pick it up anywhere else,
or order it ahead of time.

For those who are interested,
there is an old movie loosely based
on the legend, 
called "Cotolay"
or "El Nino y El Lobo."

Legend of St. Francis and the Wolf

Perhaps the most famous story of St. Francis is when he tamed the wolf that was terrorizing the people of Gubbio. While Francis was staying in that town he learned of a wolf so ravenous that it was not only killing and eating animals, but people, too. The people took up arms and went after it, but those who encountered the wolf perished at its sharp teeth. Villagers became afraid to leave the city walls.

Francis had pity on the people and decided to go out and meet the wolf. He was desperately warned by the people, but he insisted that God would take care of him. A brave friar and several peasants accompanied Francis outside the city gate. But soon the peasants lost heart and said they would go no farther.

Francis and his companion began to walk on. Suddenly the wolf, jaws agape, charged out of the woods at the couple. Francis made the Sign of the Cross toward it. The power of God caused the wolf to slow down and to close its mouth.

Then Francis called out to the creature: “Come to me, Brother Wolf. In the name of Christ, I order you not to hurt anyone.” At that moment the wolf lowered its head and lay down at St. Francis’ feet, meek as a lamb.
St. Francis explained to the wolf that he had been terrorizing the people, killing not only animals, but humans who are made in the image of God. “Brother Wolf,” said Francis, “I want to make peace between you and the people of Gubbio. They will harm you no more and you must no longer harm them. All past crimes are to be forgiven.”

The wolf showed its assent by moving its body and nodding its head. Then to the absolute surprise of the gathering crowd, Francis asked the wolf to make a pledge. As St. Francis extended his hand to receive the pledge, so the wolf extended its front paw and placed it into the saint’s hand. Then Francis commanded the wolf to follow him into town to make a peace pact with the townspeople. The wolf meekly followed St. Francis.

By the time they got to the town square, everyone was there to witness the miracle. With the wolf at his side, Francis gave the town a sermon on the wondrous and fearful love of God, calling them to repent from all their sins. Then he offered the townspeople peace, on behalf of the wolf. The townspeople promised in a loud voice to feed the wolf. Then Francis asked the wolf if he would live in peace under those terms. He bowed his head and twisted his body in a way that convinced everyone he accepted the pact. Then once again the wolf placed its paw in Francis’ hand as a sign of the pact.

From that day on the people kept the pact they had made. The wolf lived for two years among the townspeople, going from door to door for food. It hurt no one and no one hurt it. Even the dogs did not bark at it. When the wolf finally died of old age, the people of Gubbio were sad. The wolf’s peaceful ways had been a living reminder to them of the wonders, patience, virtues and holiness of St. Francis. It had been a living symbol of the power and providence of the living God. 



  1. Annie,

    I will be walking the Camino Portugués in April and the Camino Inglés in August; do you know of a place I can get the credencial on those Caminos. My email is


    1. Hi Arlene. You can get the Credential for the Camino Portugues at the Cathedral in Porto. I'm checking on the Camino Ingles and will come back with an answer as soon as I know. Buen Camino!

    2. Arlene, you can get your credential for the Camino Ingles at the Tourist Office in Ferrol.

  2. Hi Annie, I will be walking my first Camino in Sept and I am trying to get a blog going to keep people updated. I would like to copy your input re Cotoloya onto a blog I am starting, would this be ok with you?
    I love your ideas for life, you are doing exactly what I would like to be doing. Good Luck

    1. No problem. I hope to get the info about the Cotolaya to more pilgrims.

    2. That would be wonderful. There is so little about it. I will be walking the Nothern / Primitivo route, so I am wondering where I would be able to get the credential as I dont think I go through O Cebreiro.
      Thanks for allowing me to copy your blog.

  3. hi Annie,

    I will be walking the Camino Portugués in May; do you know of a place I can get the cotolaya credencial on the Camino. My email is


    1. Hi Jose, You can pick up the Cotolaya Credential when you go through O Cebreiro. They will have them at the church. If not, you can present your regular credential in Santiago at the Convent in Santiago and receive the Cotolaya. You don't NEED to carry two credentials unless you just want them as mementos. Bon Caminho!

  4. Hello Annie
    Do you mean we can get TWO certificates this year ?
    The regular one and the fransican one ?

    1. Yes! You take your credential to the Franciscan church over behind San Martin Pinario and they give you the Cotolaya! It's quite nice. I got mine in June.

    2. Thank you !
      I am going there on August

    3. Have a BUEN Camino! You can pick up a really nice credential JUST for the Cotolaya at the church in O Cebreiro, but you can also use your regular one.

  5. hello annie,i was there at the convento last may 2015. our tour guide did not inform us about the credencial. can i still ask for it through emal? i will pay all the cost involved in sending the certificate to the philippines. thanks carlo


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