Peace Pilgrim in the House

A bit more than two years ago I moved to Santiago de Compostela with the vague idea of “doing something for pilgrims”. A lot has happened since then and a lot of people, volunteers, friends and pilgrims have visited my house. Eucharists have been celebrated around the table and many meals have been shared. Sometimes the doorbell rings and somebody asks for food. Sometimes crutches have to be organized for a neighbour that can’t afford to buy them. Sometimes a pilgrim, for whatever reason, only needs a bed for one night, sometimes a bed, food and practical support for much longer. Here is the story of one such pilgrim.

Portrait of Peace Pilgrim Scaughdt
Scaughdt the Peace Pilgrim, photo (c) Michael Matynka, used with permission.

The first time I heard about Scott, or to use his preferred name, Scaughdt, was via Rebekah from the Peaceable Kingdom in Moratinos, on Facebook. He walks with no money only relying on Divine Providence and without a phone. Before I write a bit more about the house, the chaplaincy and our little Camino network dedicated to helping pilgrims, I will let Scaughdt introduce himself:

“Greetings one and all … My name is indeed Scaughdt (pronounced ‘scot’), and I have indeed been a Peace Pilgrim – essentially living without any money of my own while wandering the Earth serving others for free; fasting until offered food and sleeping wherever offered shelter – for the past 13+ years of my life. Currently I am in the middle of a pilgrimage that has been following the Camino de Santiago; a pilgrimage that started in Stuttgart, Germany (some 2700 km ago) and one that intends to end in Chattanooga, Tennessee (roughly 900 km from wherever I make landfall in the United States sometime later this month). This latest walk has been designed to be quite “radical” (without using or accepting any money, without carrying a Passport or any other form of personal identification, and without once ever asking for food along the way) and has been thus undertaken to prove to Americans & non-Americans alike that strangers are anything but dangerous; to prove that it is high time for us all to reach out with acts of according kindness towards the neighbors in our own communities … I am not sure how effective The Walk has been to date, of course, and yet it has been an honor and a privilege to serve humanity in this way, and if given the chance I would do it all again a thousand times over.”

(You can read more about him and his project here:

Update: Scaughdt has meanwhile returned safely to the United States and is continuing his walk. If you see him, say ‘Hi and Buen Camino!’ from me!

Scaughdt is a good example of how the house and the chaplaincy work together to help pilgrims with whatever they need. As most of you know, my home place has two free guest bedrooms that are used to provide accommodation for the chaplaincy volunteers (they pay for their own travel here and don’t receive any money for the work they do.) and also for pretty much anybody that needs a bed for whatever reason. Plus, obviously, for visiting friends and family. The house is quite busy on occasions 😉 When Scaughdt arrived at the house, Rev Alasdair was still here wearing his Franciscan habit (Here more information about his community: And pilgrim and priest hit it off on the spot because as it turned out they realised that they both follow a Franciscan lifestyle, each in their own way. Lively discussions were had around the table and, again, we all discovered that old truth, there is more that unites us, then that separates us. Scaughdt, being a spiritual person, had no problem in participating in our services, handing out service booklets and generally helping around the house (my windows have never been cleaner, many Muchas Gracias, Scaughdt!).

So, if you ever wondered where donations to the house or the chaplaincy go, you now have an answer. They go into to feed pilgrims like Scaughdt and volunteers like Alasdair. They are used to buy glasses, mugs, a water kettle and other bits and bobs for the Ecumenical Centre. They are used to print out boarding passes and tickets, photocopies of lost passports and so many more things. They are used to buy more chairs so that everybody has a comfortable seat at the shared table. All these are, seen separately, small amounts but they do add up over time. So many, many Muchas Gracias from Santiago to all that have donated.

Congratulations that you made it to here 😉 I have often been asked what the relationship is between me, Egeria House, the chaplaincy and how it all works together. So here a quick round-up for the curious:

Why the house has a name – When I lived in the UK, I was fascinated by the concept of house names, so when I moved to Spain I wanted the house to have a name. By giving the house a name, and taking care not calling it “my house” too often, I slowly managed to get into the mindset that ultimately it isn’t me that provides hospitality, it is the house, I am just its custodian and caretaker.

Why Egeria? – Little is known about this woman from the 4th century AD. She was most likely from Gallaecia (present-day Galicia, North Portugal, Asturias and León), she might or might not have been a nun, but she must have been from a wealthy and influential family. What we do know is that around 380 AD she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and other places in the Holy Land. She wrote a long letter about it which is not only the oldest report of such a pilgrimage but also contains detailed descriptions of the Easter liturgy used in Jerusalem in the 4th century. Egeria must have been a courageous and well-educated woman to achieve all this, I would have been happy to offer her the hospitality of the house.

Camino Chaplaincy – If you browse this website a bit more, you can learn how it all started and developed over the last 1,5 years. As for my role: I am the lay coordinator for it here in Santiago. This means that I pick up the volunteers at the airport, help them to get settled in, introduce them to our Ecumenical partners and so on. Not all volunteers stay at the house as some wish to make other arrangements. For those who do stay I try to create a bit of community life, such as praying together and taking care of the house. I also help to welcome pilgrims at the Ecumenical centre and with our services on Sundays and Wednesdays. And if there is a gap between one priest going and the next one coming like at the moment, I lead Morning Prayer on Sundays at Santa Susana and Evening Prayer here at Egeria House on Wednesdays. Like everyone else involved in the Chaplaincy I am unpaid and I pay all of my own expenses.

Camino Network – I am we are not alone in this fascinating Camino adventure. Just as Rebekah referred Scaughdt to me, there are others around that help. Just a bit down the road lives an old hospitalero friend of mine to whom I can refer pilgrims, preferably Spanish speaking ones, when I run out of space. Others, like Michael Matynka donate guide books and maps to give to pilgrims free of charge (Michael also took the photo of Scaughdt shown on this blog post). Others share the produce of their gardens or other food with us. Others contribute their knowledge and wisdom about how things work here in Santiago. In short, if I run into a problem that I can’t solve alone, there is always somebody around that knows a solution or, at least, can point me in the right direction!

Living a life of hospitality – Living an open house hospitality is not for the faint of heart. Sharing “your” space with strangers changes you and the space. Pots and plates find new places to live in the kitchen, you learn new dishes to eat and cook, and, perhaps most importantly, you learn to see the world, and the Camino!, through different eyes and from different viewpoints. In short, it changes you. Sometimes I get asked: “Are you happy with the life you have chosen?” To which my answer is: “If not, I wouldn’t be where I am and doing what I am doing!”

One thought on “Peace Pilgrim in the House”

  1. Thank you for keeping in touch with all of us.

    It is good to see the development of your mission in Egeria House.

    You seem to be developing good ecumenical links within Santiago.
    Think of Egeria as one of the mansions in Our Father’s house.

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