The tomb of James the apostle in Santiago de Compostela has attracted pilgrims from across Europe for a thousand years. In the last few decades, its attraction and appeal has grown still further, the pilgrimage to Galicia becoming a world-wide phenomenon.
This renaissance of the Camino de Santiago and the status as the first European Cultural Route underline the importance for Europe's shared cultural identity. Indeed, few historical events, places or proceedings have affected the continent so intensely as the pilgrimage of St. James. The pilgrimage symbolizes a project which seeks to transcend the barriers between peoples, cultures and languages peacefully.
The original idea and identity of St. James's Way - an expression of the shared faith of Christianity - has been lost over the centuries. Nevertheless, St. James's Way has survived the great upheavals that have taken place throughout its history. Today, the idea of peacefully treading a path alongside other people offers a completely different spirituality and way to search for meaning. This has contributed to a new identity, an identity of dynamic plurality and diversity of culture. Exactly this underlies the European idea, which in the times of globalization is becoming increasingly important in the world.
It is no accident that the first student meeting of the Compostela Group of Universities will take place in Regensburg. The city is itself a World Heritage Site and lies near the border which separated East and West for so long.
The students will join experts at Universität Regensburg for the first three days, from July 31 to August 2, and reflect on the history of St. James's Way and the importance of the pilgrimage to Santiago for art, literature, religion and European identity. After this, from August 3 to 5, the participants will explore the border between Germany and the Czech Republic, hiking and meeting enthusiasts from both countries, finding out about the Camino de Santiago from Prague and from Pilsen both in the Middle Ages and today.