In order to certify the completion of the pilgrimage, pilgrims have to obtain the compostela. For this purpose, back in history, badges were prepared, but they proved to be too easy to falsify, so from the 13th century onwards the so-called evidential letters were introduced. That is what we call the compostela nowadays.
Recently, the compostela has been limited to those pilgrims who walk for at least the last 100 kilometres, or ride a horse or a bicycle for the last 200 kilometres up to the Apostle’s tomb in Santiago.
The compostela can be obtained in the pilgrims’ office on Rúa do Vilar, only a few steps away from the Cathedral. Pilgrims have to present their credencial and will be asked about their nationality, their motivation (religious, religious and cultural or simply cultural) and their means of transport (foot, horse, bicycle).
The text of the Compostela is written in Latin and says:
CAPITULUM hujus Almae Apostolicae et Metropolitanae Ecclesiae Compostellanae sigilli Altaris Beati Jacobi Apostoli custos, ut omnibus Fidelibus et Perigrinis ex toto terrarum Orbe, devotionis affectu vel voti causa, ad limina Apostoli Nostri Hispaniarum Patroni ac Tutelaris SANCTI JACOBI convenientibus, authenticas visitationis litteras expediat, omnibus et singulis praesentes inspecturis, notum facit : (Latin version of name of recipient) Hoc sacratissimum Templum pietatis causa devote visitasse. In quorum fidem praesentes litteras, sigillo ejusdem Sanctae Ecclesiae munitas, ei confero.
Datum Compostellae die (day) mensis (month) anno Dni (year) Canonicus Deputatus pro Peregrinis
[The Chapter of this Holy Apostolic Metropolitan Cathedral of St. James, custodian of the seal of St. James’ Altar, to all faithful and pilgrims who come from everywhere over the world as an act of devotion, under vow or promise to the Apostle’s Tomb, our Patron and Protector of Spain, witnesses in the sight of all who read this document, that (name) has visited devoutly this Sacred Church in a religious sense. Witness whereof I hand this document over to him/her, authenticated by the seal of this Sacred Church. Given in Compostela on the (day) (month) AD (year)]
The Certificado, given to pilgrims with a non-religious motivation is written in Spanish and says:
La S.A.M.I. Catedral de Santiago de Compostela le expresa su bienvenida cordial a la Tumba Apostólica de Santiago el Mayor; y desea que el Santo Apóstol le conceda, con abundancia, las gracias de la Peregrinación.
[The Holy Apostolic Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela expresses its warm welcome to the Tomb of the Apostle St. James the Greater; and wishes that the holy Apostle may grant you, in abundance, the graces of the Pilgrimage.]