On El Camino de Santiago, falling for The Divine Mercy

We share this story, first published in 2011, on the feast day of St. James, Apostle, July 25.

By Mark Endres 

When my son returned home from World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, the first story he shared was of an experience he had when he and a group of college students walked the famous El Camino de Santiago - or the "Way of St. James" - in northwestern Spain. The walk leads to the sepulcher of St. James, inside the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. 

Despite my advice, my son insisted on taking some Divine Mercy bumper stickers and magnets with him to World Youth Day. I strongly recommended that he not; the reason being that the first part of his trip, the El Camino walk, was some 120 kilometers (walking up to 18 miles per day). His backpack already weighed 37 pounds, and, considering the rigorous walk, I didn't want him adding additional weight. So much for my fatherly advice. He took the Divine Mercy materials anyway, and off he went. 

As he walked along the trail with his fellow college students, he would put out his Divine Mercy "cargo" whenever it seemed appropriate. One day, heading towards Portomarín, the group took a break and decided to pray the Rosary. My son found a spot to sit, a wall with a 10-foot drop or so that surrounded a farm pasture. Why he would pick that spot I will never know. Sitting on top of the wall with his feet dangling over, he started to pray. 

Miraculous 'punch'
Tired from the long walk, in mid-prayer he started to doze off. All of a sudden, he woke up as he was falling forward over the wall. At the same moment, he felt a miraculous and forceful "punch" or shove to his chest that threw him backwards to safety. As you can imagine, it was an incredible experience. It left him very shaken. It happened in the blink of an eye - an invisible hand had shoved him backwards as he was falling forward ...

As Jesus said to St. Faustina, "Souls who spread the honor of My mercy I shield through their entire life" (Diary of St. Faustina, 998). 

In his little way, my son chose to spread the honor of Divine Mercy along the El Camino, and in return, God showed His mercy to my son and saved him from harm. 

Jesus kept His promise, and I am so thankful.


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