Anglicans to build new centre in Spain for pilgrims on 'The Way' to Santiago de Compostela

King Felipe of Spain and Queen Letizia inside the Santiago de Compostela cathedral during celebrations for St James' Day.Lavandeira Jr/Reuters

A new $5 million Anglican Centre is to be built in Spain in Santiago de Compostela, the end of the world-famous Catholic pilgrimage route the Way of St James. 

The Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain, which is part of the Anglican Community under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, is to begin fundraising with the help of Trinity Church, Wall Street in the United States.

The new Anglican centre in Spain will have instant and enormous appeal to Christians from through the Anglican Communion worldwide. 

Santiago de Compostela is believed to be the burial site of the disciple James, brother of Jesus. The Camino de Santiago has been a pilgrimage route since the 9th century.

Many Anglicans and other non-Catholics as well as thousands of Catholics walk the Way each year. The pilgrimage featured in Emilio Estevez's film of the same name and starred his father Martin Sheen playing a doctor, Tom, whose son Daniel dies while walking the route. In the film, Tom decides to walk the Way himself to scatter his son's ashes along the route, even though he is not himself religious.

US actor Martin Sheen poses for a portrait to promote the film "The Way" during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival in 2010.Adrien Veczan/Reuters

The Spanish Church has set up a new organisation, the American Friends of the Anglican Centre for Santiago de Compostela, similar to a sister organisation in Rome . It has already received a grant from The Episcopal Church's United Thank Offering scheme.

Plans were confirmed after an initial meeting in New York.

Spencer Reece,secretary for the Bishop of Spain, Carlos Lopez-Lozáno, said: "The message seemed clear. We need one. Why? Currently there are more Protestants on the Camino than Catholics.

"However, Spain, being one of the most Catholic countries on earth, there has never been a place for Protestant pilgrims to receive Eucharist when they finish the Camino," he told Anglican News.

"Furthermore, there are Anglican centres in Jerusalem and Rome, but none in third most holy site on earth: Santiago."

He added: "This is a big project naturally and one that seeks the help of all corners of the Anglican Communion as well as pilgrims outside the Church who want to see a place of healing built in Santiago overseen by our Church."

Earlier this year, the Anglican Centre in Rome celebrated its 50th anniversary.