Memorandum Signed in Vinnytsia with President of the European Federation of the Way of St. James
The head of the European Federation of the Way of St. James, Ildefonso de la Campa Montenegro, is visiting Ukraine from October 31 to November 3. His trip is devoted to the cultural and pilgrimage route Camino Podolico, which this year was officially accepted into the Federation. The guest will visit several communities on the Podillia Way of St. James.
The visit began with the starting point of the route, Vinnytsia, where a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed to develop and popularize the Way of St. James in Ukraine. The signing was attended by the mayors of Vinnytsia, Hnivan, Bar and Kamianets-Podilskyi.
The purpose of this Memorandum is to consolidate the efforts of the Federation and the Ukrainian communities that signed the document to develop and popularize the European cultural route of the Way of St. James in Ukraine through forms of international and intermunicipal cooperation in the fields of culture, tourism, education, science and youth work. In particular, this includes the exchange of experience in solving problems of tourism development, preservation and popularization of the cultural heritage of territorial communities. In addition, it is about participation in the activities of the European Federation of the Way of St. James, cooperation with members of the Federation (municipalities, authorities, associations, etc.).
Vinnytsia Mayor Serhii Morhunov reminded that it was during the presidency of Ildefonso de la Campa Montenegro of the European Federation of the Way of St. James that Vinnytsia, as the coordinator of the Camino Podolico route, was accepted into this respected institution. This made it possible to scale the Podillia Way to the international level.
“We had the first idea to join the St. James Way project in the fall of 2019. And in June this year, Vinnytsia, represented by our Camino Podolico project, was unanimously accepted into the European Federation of the Way of St. James. Here, first of all, I would like to thank the president of the European Federation of the Way of St. James, Ildefonso de la Campa Montenegro. In fact, he was the driving force behind Vinnytsia and the 11 communities of the Podillia Way being accepted into the large family of the Way of St. James. I think that our communities have already felt the positive effect of the implementation of this project, and I am convinced that we should not stop there. Together with our colleagues, we need to further develop this project and connect the route with existing European routes. I would like to additionally thank my colleagues from Bar, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Hnivan and other communities who supported this project. This makes us even more friends and partners”, – said Serhii Morhunov.
Ildefonso de la Campa Montenegro thanked for the invitation to Vinnytsia to sign the Memorandum of Cooperation and said that he came with good news – at the next General Assembly of the European Federation of the Way of St. James, which will be held in the summer of 2024 in Santiago de Compostela, he will nominate the candidacy of Vinnytsia Mayor for the post of Vice President of the Federation.
“The Way of St. James has established the identity of our continent, Europe, for 1200 years. Along this path, pilgrims have the opportunity to gain transformative experiences, reflect on important spiritual and religious values, and shape what makes us Europeans… Among the most important values of the Camino de Santiago are the exchange of knowledge, contact with other languages, cultures and traditions, and openness. And today, a part of the Way of St. James – Ukraine, through which this path passes – is fighting to defend its independence and European democratic society. The European Federation of the Way of St. James expresses its support for Ukraine in its struggle for freedom, sovereignty and independence in the face of a terrible war and aggression by the russian federation. You are not alone in this struggle. Your heroic resistance is the first defensive wall against aggression and the imposition of a policy of violence… And the Camino Podolico is another sign of resistance to aggression by those who hate our ideas. The 250 kilometers of the Camino Podolico is a quest for freedom, coexistence, respect and identity. The Camino Podolico, as part of the Way of St. James, connects us from East to West”, – emphasized Ildefonso de la Campa Montenegro.
During the meeting with community leaders, they also discussed an issue that is extremely important for the development of the Camino Podolico route – the certification of the route in 2024. They also discussed the possibility of resuming the pilgrimage next spring, as there are people willing to walk the Podillia Way of St. James. In addition, for Ukrainians (both civilians and veterans), walking the path during wartime and postwar can be an effective means of psychological recovery, rethinking, and finding new meanings.
The task for the future is to extend the route to the EU borders. The directions towards Slovakia and Romania open up additional opportunities for inter-municipal and international cooperation, as well as for attracting grants.
The next communities to be visited by Ildefonso de la Campa during his visit will be Hnivan and Bar. In total, he will visit six communities on the St. James’ Way of Podillia over the next few days.