Who is Saint Peter and Why is He Celebrated on the Camino?
Saint Peter the Apostle (known as St. Pedro in Spanish) is an important figure in Christian history and the Catholic Church’s history. He was the head of the disciples of Jesus Christ and is recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as the first of its unbroken succession of popes.
His main feast day that is celebrated along the Camino de Santiago is the festival of Peter and Paul which falls on the 29th of June. This day is the “Day of the Christian Martyr”, in honour of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul and all martyrs for the Christian faith.
Celebrations of St Pedro on the Camino de Santiago
June is a wonderful month to experience the Camino de Santiago, with many towns along all of the Camino’s routes holding celebrations. There are parties, special masses, grape skin burning parties, and even a wine battle to celebrate this feast!
Saint Peter’s Day on the Camino Frances
Many villages along the Camino Frances host parties in honour of Saint Peter.
One town that is especially worth mentioning is Haro in La Rioja, where the Batalla del vino is held on the 29th of June. The Battle of Wine is a wonderfully messy festival where everyone will get drenched in wine.
This festival attracts tourists nationally, and takes place in the morning, after the celebration of a pilgrimage to the hermitage of the Riscos of Bilibio. This unique festival uses up to 130,000 litres of wine, and can be enjoyed by everyone. Just remember not to wear your favourite white clothes that day!
In Nájera, the festivities St. Peter include an old tradition known as ‘Las Vueltas’. On the 29th of June, the villagers dance around the bandstand for more than two hours without stopping! They dance in time with music and sing popular songs. The ‘Vueltas’ are also performed for St. John’s day, on the 24th of June.
Leon is another town that is worth a mention for their June festivals. In Leon, you can experience two festivals close together, with St John’s night on the 24th of June and St Peter’s day on the 29th.
The “Semana Grande” (big week) runs from the 16th of June to the 2nd of July and hosts a wide range of activities. From Saint John’s traditional bonfire night to bullfights, concerts, and more – this is an excellent week to explore Leon.
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Celebrate Saint Pedro’s Feast Day on the Camino del Norte
You will also find various locations that celebrate Saint Peter’s Feast Day on the Camino del Norte. Ask at your accommodation or the local cafes to find out what is planned along your way. Markina, Comillas and Villalba often have wonderful festivals. Laredo also holds celebrations on the 29th of June but in honour of St. Paul.
The town of Gijon has a special ceremony for Saint Peter’s Day – the blessing of the water! After holy mass at St Peter’s church the clergy will bless the waters of the Bay of San Lorenzo and the mayor will give the sea a floral gift. There is also plenty of singing and dancing!
Deba is a town with an especially interesting Saint Pedro’s tradition. In this town on the eve of St Peter’s Day, the “burning of the skins” takes place. The dry remains of vineyards are set alight as part of an old custom, supposedly to protect them against witches and their spells.
Saint Peter and the Via Francigena
While this is not a Camino route, this Christian pilgrimage to Rome is also worth mentioning when discussing Saint Peter.
Because Peter and Paul are also the patron Saints of Rome, there is added celebration in the Eternal City. On the evening of the 28th of June, the Pope often gives a blessing from the Vatican. The next day, on the feast day, the “fisherman’s net” is hung at the Vatican in honour of St. Peter – a former fisherman who later became the “fisherman of men”.
If you are able to visit Rome on the 28th and 29th of June (perhaps at the end of the Via Francigena pilgrimage?) make sure to visit the Basilica of St John Lateran. Here you can find the display of the reliquaries which contain the heads of the two saints. You can also see a statue of Saint Peter, crowned with a papal tiara, a ring of the fisherman and papal vestments on his feast day.
Join us on the Camino Next St Peter’s Day!
Celebrate your next Saint Peter’s Feast Day on the Camino de Santiago! Bookings are open for next June, so get started. You can choose from a wide range of routes and stages of the Camino, and we can customise your itinerary to make sure you are in all the best places for special days.
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Originally published on 28th June 2021