You can now hug the Apostle once again

One of the beloved ancient traditions of pilgrims on the Camino has returned after a three year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic.
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela announced in a press release on June 13 that as of Wednesday June 14 at 10:30 the dressing room of the Apostle Santiago will be open again so that anyone who wishes to do so can hug the statue of the Saint.
It is still recommend that pilgrims avoid kissing the statue or making direct contact with the face, for sanitary/health reasons.

Access closed during Covid

Access to the dressing room was closed to the public on March 13, 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
The general hours to access the dressing room will be from 8:30 am to the closing of the Cathedral at 9:00 pm, but with interruptions when a Pilgrims’ Mass is being celebrated at the main altar.

The statue of St James can now be hugged once again

A centuries old tradition

*The Baroque statue of the Saint has been part of the pilgrimage traditions of the Camino de Santiago for a long time. Pilgrims seem to always have had the right to touch the altar, embrace the Saint and even put on the crown that used to be there.
Hugging the statue to give thanks and to ask for blessings to be delivered to those who helped along the Camino has been a poignant experience for many pilgrims through the ages.
The German pilgrim Arnold von Harff reported in 1497 that pilgrims ascended behind the altar and placed a silver crown on their heads. In the 16th century reports mention a golden crown on Santiago’s head. By the end of this century it had disappeared though.
By the late 17th century pilgrims were hugging the statue and some of them even put their own hats or capes on the statue.
Modern day pilgrims can now rejoin the parade of pilgrims taking part in this time-honoured ritual.

*Information from the Pilgrimage Road to Santiago – the complete cultural handbook, by David M Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson.