The Pilgrimage

The Pilgrimage

The Pilgrimage

The Pilgrimage


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A Journey for the Ages

The Pilgrimage paved the way to Paulo Coelho’s international bestselling novel The Alchemist. In many ways, these two volumes are companions—to truly comprehend one, you must read the other.

Step inside this captivating account of Coelho’s pilgrimage along the road to Santiago. This fascinating parable explores the need to find one’s own path. In the end, we discover that the extraordinary is always found in the ordinary and simple ways of everyday people. Part adventure story, part guide to self-discovery, this compelling tale delivers the perfect combination of enchantment and insight.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061687457
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 08/03/2021
Series: Plus Series
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 54,759
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

About The Author
One of the most influential writers of our time, Paulo Coelho is the author of thirty international bestsellers, including The Alchemist, Warrior of the Light, Brida, Veronika Decides to Die, and Eleven Minutes. He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and a United Nations Messenger of Peace. Paulo is the recipient of 115 international prizes and awards, among them, the Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur (Legion of Honor). Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, he soon discovered his vocation for writing. He worked as a director, theater actor, songwriter, and journalist. In 1986, a special meeting led him to make the pilgrimage to Saint James Compostela (in Spain). The Road to Santiago was not only a common pilgrimage but a turning point in his existence. A year later, he wrote The Pilgrimage, an autobiographical novel that is considered the beginning of his literary career. He lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

Julia Sanches is a literary translator working from Portuguese, Spanish, and Catalan. Recent translations include Undiscovered by Gabriela Wiener, shortlisted for the International Booker Prize in 2024, Boulder by Eva Baltasar, shortlisted for the International Booker Prize in 2023, and Migratory Birds by Mariana Oliver, for which she won the 2022 PEN translation prize. Born in Brazil, she currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Date of Birth:

August 24, 1947

Place of Birth:

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Left law school in second year

Read an Excerpt

The customs agent spent more time than usual examining the sword that my wife had brought into the country and then asked what we intended to do with it. I said that a friend of ours was going to assess its value so that we could sell it at auction. This lie worked: the agent gave us a declaration stating that we had entered the country with the sword at the Bajadas airport, and he told us that if we had any problems trying to leave the country with it, we need only show the declaration to the customs officials.
We went to the car rental agency and confirmed our two vehicles. Armed with the rental documents, we had a bite together at the airport restaurant prior to going our separate ways.
We had spent a sleepless night on the plane—the result of both a fear of flying and a sense of apprehension about what was going to happen once we arrived—but now we were excited and wide awake.
"Not to worry," she said for the thousandth time. "You're supposed to go to France and, at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, seek out Mme Lourdes. She is going to put you in touch with someone who will guide you along the Road to Santiago."
"And what about you?" I asked, also for the thousandth time, knowing what her answer would be.
"I'm going where I have to go, and there I'll leave what has been entrusted to me. Afterward, I'll spend a few days in Madrid and then return to Brazil. I can take care of things back there as well as you would."
"I know you can," I answered, wanting to avoid the subject. I felt an enormous anxiety about the business matters I had left behind in Brazil. I had learned all I needed to know about the Road to Santiago in the fifteen days following theincident in the Agulhas Negras, but I had vacillated for another seven months before deciding to leave everything behind and make the trip. I had put it off until one morning when my wife had said that the time was drawing near and that if I did not make a decision, I might as well forget about the road of the Tradition and the Order of RAM. I had tried to explain to her that my Master had assigned me an impossible task, that I couldn't simply shrug off my livelihood. She had smiled and said that my excuse was dumb, that during the entire seven months I had done nothing but ask myself night and day whether or not I should go. And with the most casual of gestures, she had held out the two airline tickets, with the flight already scheduled.
"We're here because of your decision," I said glumly now in the airport restaurant. "I don't know if this will even work, since I let another person make the decision for me to seek out my sword."
My wife said that if we were going to start talking nonsense, we had better say good-bye and go our separate ways.
"You have never in your life let another person make an important decision for you. Let's go. It's getting late." She rose, picked up her suitcase, and headed for the parking lot. I didn't stop her. I stayed seated, observing the casual way in which she carried my sword; at any moment it seemed that it could slip from under her arm.
She stopped suddenly, came back to the table, and kissed me desperately. She looked at me for some time without saying a word. This suddenly made me realize that now I was actually in Spain and that there was no going back. In spite of the knowledge that there were many ways in which I could fail, I had taken the first step. I hugged her passionately, trying to convey all the love I felt for her at that moment. And while she was still in my arms, I prayed to everything and everyone I believed in, imploring that I be given the strength to return to her with the sword.
"That was a beautiful sword, wasn't it?" said a woman's voice from the next table, after my wife had left.
"Don't worry," a man said. "I'll buy one just like it for you. The tourist shops here in Spain have thousands of them."
After I had driven for an hour or so, I began to feel the fatigue accumulated from the night before. The August heat was so powerful that even on the open highway, the car began to overheat. I decided to stop in a small town identified by the road signs as Monumento Nacional. As I climbed the steep road that led to it, I began to review all that I had learned about the Road to Santiago.
Just as the Muslim tradition requires that all members of the faith, at least once in their life, make the same pilgrimage that Muhammad made from Mecca to Medina, so Christians in the first millennium considered three routes to be sacred. Each of them offered a series of blessings and indulgences to those who traveled its length. The first led to the tomb of Saint Peter in Rome; its travelers, who were called wanderers, took the cross as their symbol. The second led to the Holy Sepulcher of Christ in Jerusalem; those who took this road were called palmists, since they had as their symbol the palm branches with which Jesus was greeted when he entered that city. There was a third road, which led to the mortal remains of the apostle, San Tiago—Saint James in English, Jacques in French, Giacomo in Italian, Jacob in Latin. He was buried at a place on the Iberian peninsula where, one night, a shepherd had seen a brilliant star above a field. The legend says that not only San Tiago but also the Virgin Mary went there shortly after the death of Christ, carrying the word of the Evangelist and exhorting the people to convert. The site came to be known as Compostela—the star field—and there a city had arisen that drew travelers from every part of the Christian world. These travelers were called pilgrims, and their symbol was the scallop shell.

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