Mapping pilgrims’ experience of walking the Saint James way through the lens of self-regulation

Clara Vieira, Jennifer Cunha, Ana Rita Nunes, Luísa Mota Ribeiro, Pedro Rosário

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



The Way of St. James is a very well-known and ancient pilgrimage, with various routes leading pilgrims to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where the remains of Saint James are buried. Over the last few years, the experience of the pilgrimage and the growing number of pilgrims walking the Saint James Way have been attracting researchers’ attention. However, studies attempting to understand the pilgrims’ experience using a self-regulation lens are limited. Self-regulation may be defined as efforts made to manage individuals’ thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in the pursuit of long-term goals. Therefore, rooted in the self-regulation framework, this research aims to further understand the Saint James Way with a focus on the pilgrims’ experience, while stressing the three components of the model: planning, execution, and evaluation. The interviews of 32 Portuguese pilgrims aged between 16 and 52 were analysed using thematic analysis through Zimmerman’s model. Pilgrims made important considerations on the three phases of the self-regulation framework. Importantly, participants’ discourses stressed relevant elements of the process of doing a pilgrimage, placing a particular emphasis on the interest and value of the pilgrimage, strategic planning, strategy usage, metacognitive monitoring, self-assessment and, finally, self-satisfaction. Interestingly, some participants revealed superficial planning and a lack of self-monitoring strategies on the journey. The study provides new avenues for research and practical implications likely to enhance the quality of the pilgrimage by helping pilgrims and pilgrim organisers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)35-46
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of religious tourism and pilgrimage
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2023


  • Camino de Santiago
  • Saint James Way
  • Pilgrimage
  • Self-regulation
  • Will and skill


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