The president of the European Federation of Saint James Way Ildefonso de la Campa Montenegro visited six communities of Saint James Way of Podillya: Vinnytsia, Hnivan, Bar, Zinkiv, Maliivtsi and Kamianets-Podilskyi.
Mr. de la Campa stayed in Ukraine from October 31 to November 3. His trip was dedicated to the cultural and pilgrimage route Camino Podolico, which this year was officially accepted into the European Federation of Saint James Way. He emphasized the importance of supporting Ukraine as a member of the Federation, which fights for the values of the entire civilized world.
«Today, a part of the Saint James Way, a country through which the Saint James Way runs, is fighting to defend and maintain the signs that define it as a European, free and democratic society. The European Federation of the Saint James Way and the administrations that represent it have already expressed and express their support to the struggle of the Ukrainian people for their freedom, sovereignty and independence in the face of the unjustified war of aggression of the Russian Federation. In this struggle you are not alone. Your heroic resistance is the first retaining wall against intolerance, aggression, the imposition of the strongest and violence as state policy… The Saint James Way are the veins through which our blood flows and mixes, and today, in Europe, Ukrainian blood is watering a future of freedom, democracy and peace», – said Ildefonso de la Campa Montenegro.
Cooperation to develop and popularize the Saint James way in Ukraine.
The main event during the visit of the President of the Federation to Ukraine was the signing of the Memorandum of cooperation to develop and popularize the Saint James way in Ukraine. Mayors of Vinnytsia, Hnivan, Bar and Kamianets-Podilskyi took part in the signing. The document is open, so the representatives of other Ukrainian communities and organizations who are willing to develop the pilgrim routes of the Saint James way in Ukraine are welcome to join.
All the signatories emphasized that for Ukrainians (civilians and veterans), walking the path during the war and post-war period can become an effective way of psychological recovery, reinterpretation of trauma and search for new meanings, because the popularity of the Camino in the world is largely determined by the desire of people to change their rhythm of life, gain a new experience of self-immersion and spiritual practices (regardless of religion or worldview).
In total, the head of the Federation visited three communities each in the Vinnytsia and Khmelnytskyi regions on the way of the Camino Podolico. In Vinnytsia he visited Castle Hill and the oldest city churches of the 17th-18th centuries, got acquainted with the exhibition “Under the Protection of the Defenders” in the Artynov Tower. He also met the abbot of the starting point of Camino Podolico – Church of the Blessed Holy Virgin Mary of Angels Józef Chromy. In Hnivan, the guest attended a service in the sanctuary of St. Joseph, and in Bar went to the folk museum of Bar ceramics and walked near the main sights of the city.
The President of the Federation also visited the wooden church of St. Michael the Archangel and the remains of the Zinkiv fortress, and the Orłowski estate in Maliivtsi. At the end of the intense program in Kamianets-Podilskyi, he was awaited by a city tour with a visit to the fortress and a meeting with the bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, Leon Dubrawski.
During the meetings with representatives of municipalities, religious communities and public organizations, he discussed the perspective of international cooperation, the preparation of joint grant applications and the holding of events dedicated to Europe Day and European Heritage Days in 2024. The President of the Federation also witnessed the first results of the project “The Way must go on”, aimed at studying and popularizing the gastronomic heritage of the route.
While sharing his impressions of the trip, Ildefonso de la Campa noted that he saw in Ukraine an example of strong and effective cooperation between municipalities, as well as an active civil society that, even in wartime, works to preserve its own heritage, strengthen European identity, and build a democratic dialogue through culture and tourism. All this, according to the president, is the key to the successful development of such cultural routes of the Council of Europe as the Saint James Way.