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31-year-old American Catholic known online as James of Michiganmichlakeshore / X

(LifeSiteNews) — A young Catholic man is documenting his nearly 500-mile hike across Michigan this summer for his own U.S. version of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain.   

On May 5, a 31-year-old American Catholic going by the handle James of Michigan, began his 498 mile pilgrimage “to become closer to God and my faith” by walking across Michigan – his own version of the traditional Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain.   

“Today I’m starting a 450+ mile walking journey along the western coast of Michigan,” James wrote on X. 

“It’s a pilgrimage to become closer with my faith, and a version of the Camino de Santiago that’s been walked for centuries across Spain,” he continued. “Please pray that God gives me the strength to finish!”  

“I’m 31 now, and I grew up Catholic, in the suburbs of Chicago, but not with a deep or devout understanding of the faith,” he revealed. “I fell away from it for years, but always believed in God, and felt like: ‘One of these days, I have to do something about this feeling in my heart.'” 

Following a revival in his prayer life and rediscovery of the Catholic Church, James felt that God was calling him to walk the Camino of St. James “away from the world, to contemplate all of these swirling thoughts and questions, and to repent for my sins.” 

The Camino of St. James is a 500-mile trek across Spain, which Catholics have historically travelled as a prayer pilgrimage.   

However, a trip to Europe proved impossible as the COVID so-called pandemic shut down international travel, leading James to decide to travel across Michigan instead.  

“It looked much more daunting, more solitary, probably much more cold, with an unestablished walking route, nowhere clear to stay, and all sorts of other unknowns,” he explained.  

“But when I started to plan and research, I felt God many times tell me, in His own unmistakable language of signs, that I’m onto something-and this is indeed what I need to be doing,” James continued.  

The route which James chose begins at his home in Michigan and finishes in the small town of St. James, a total of 498 miles, almost exactly the distance of the traditional route in Spain. 

“When I wondered where my version of Santiago would be, the city that marks the finishing line for the Camino in Spain, I couldn’t find one-until one day I looked at a different map, and noticed the little town of St. James (Santiago, in Spanish) on Beaver Island, a ferry ride from Charlevoix along the last few legs of the route,” he described.  

James is currently on day 17 of his pilgrimage and has been posting regular updates on his X account as he travels across his home state, praying and visiting Catholic churches along the road.  

“Today I felt another act of great kindness for which I’m so grateful,” James wrote in a May 20th post.   

“My feet are roughed up & I’m resting, my shoes are bad. I told my problem to the priest I met, and he said ‘what size?'” he revealed.   

“A few hours later he drove up + brought new shoes (I paid him back). Unreal!” James declared.