top of page


In 2003, I really wanted to go on a bicycle pilgrimage along the camino to Santiago de Compostela. The idea matured for a year. We prepared for it with long bike rides around Slovenia and searching for literature about the camino. There wasn't much of it back then. At the beginning of 2004, I started looking for transportation to Saint Jean pied de Porta in France, where the most famous pilgrimage route, the Camino Frances, begins. At the train station in Ljubljana, they kindly prepared an itinerary of train transportation, which would take almost 4 days in one direction. The reason for the incredibly long journey was the problem of transporting bicycles on international trains. Since we only had 13 days available for transportation and pilgrimage with the May Day holidays and additional vacation days, such transportation was unacceptable.

When in February, during the decoration of our home church, I told the then Kočevo pastor Tone Gnidovac that we were planning a pilgrimage along the Camino and that we didn't know how to get to Spain, he asked me if I knew the Rigler couple from Ljubljana, who founded the Jakobov društvo three years ago and after the Camino pilgrimage also wrote a book entitled Blessed be the poor poor man. No, we didn't know anything about it, but we were happy with the gift of the pastor's book, which he got as a gift from the Riglers and which also contained Methodius' phone number. I called him the next day, hoping to get some useful information about the mode of transportation. "When are you leaving", he asked. "From April 23 to May 5," I answer. "We are also going at the same time", is the answer. "Who are you", I want a quick explanation and I can't believe that someone from Slovenia is going on the same trip at the same time. "My wife Marjeta and I are part of the Association of Friends of the Way of St. Jakob, which we founded in 2000, we take one bus of pilgrims to the Camino Frances in Spain. We will walk about 25 km a day, and the other 75 will be taken by bus," he explains. "Oh, Marija, is it possible for you to go at exactly the same time as we're planning, do you still have some space on the bus", I'm in a hurry... "The bus is already full, tomorrow the last couple will definitively confirm their presence. If you don't happen to go on the trip, you can come with us. I'll see you tomorrow," I get, a miraculous answer for me. It was quite hard to believe that calling Metodije and I might have solved the transportation problem overnight. But the next day we really hit the lottery. He called me and said: "You have two seats, you can come with us" Some would say, what a coincidence! Others are lucky! We were both convinced even then that this was a miracle and that our pilgrimage to the camino was obviously destined for us. How else could I plan exactly the same date as Jakob's Society in Ljubljana, which we didn't even know existed, and even get a seat on a bus that was almost already occupied, because one couple canceled exactly the day after I called Metodij.


We have never cycled for more than four days. On April 23, 2004, we set off to distant Spain with mixed feelings of great anticipation and at the same time uncertainty as to how the cycling through the country and the paths we do not know will go. Will we have enough strength and time for it? We only had 8 and a half days to cover 860 km? What will the weather be like, will we get lodgings where we need them... And yet a redeeming thought; if anything went wrong, we had Metodi's phone number and our bus somewhere along the way. After an all-night and all-day drive, we arrived in Lourdes. And the next day, we started our pilgrimage on foot and by bicycle. Later, we met three times with our pilgrims and once even slept in the same albergue - lodging. Despite the challenging route and the changeable weather (we drove in the sun, strong wind, rain, hail and even in the snow - the month of May!), we were quite tired, but happy, and arrived on time to the pilgrimage holy mass, which is held every day at 12 o'clock in Basilica of St. Jacob in Santiago.



Ikebana s svečo.jpg

On June 3, 1999, at the mass of nations at 12 o'clock in the cathedral of St. Jakob in Santiago de Compostela also heard the voice "DOS PELEGRINOS A PIE E ESLOVENIJA" - TWO PILGRIMERS FROM SLOVENIA. Metodij and Marjeta Rigler, one of the first Slovenian pilgrims in modern times, were responsible for the publication of the Slovenian Pilgrims of Jacob at the pilgrimage mass at the grave of the Apostle Jacob the Elder. They were so taken by the Camino route that in 2000 they wrote down their impressions in the book Blagor vama uboga reveža and in the same year founded the Society of the Path of St. James in Slovenia with the aim of reviving the tradition of medieval Slovenian pilgrimages to Santiago. In the first years, he and the members of the association devoted their strength and knowledge to the research of ancient pilgrimage routes on Slovenian soil. After 10 years of work, the first Orsrednja Jakobova pot from Slovenska vas to Trieste and the first guide for pedestrians Where are those paths were created. At the same time, the bicycle section created the first bicycle pilgrimage route along the footpath. With the first success, the real part has only just begun. Methodius had already planned the Višar branch and the guide for it I will cut the bushes, harvest the grass and then the Prekmurska-Stajersko path, which is described in the guide I will make paths that used to be.


Along them, cycling routes and the extensive guide Slovenian cycling route Jakobova pot of the Štefanič couple were created. In 2014, we got a beautiful Pilgrim's Cross of Jacob on the map of Slovenia, after which more foot and bicycle pilgrims from home and abroad began to make pilgrimages within the association and outside it year after year. Many Churches of St. Jacob on the way was revived by pilgrims, after many years they opened Jacob's seed, prayer multiplied in our homeland, pilgrims from all over Slovenia began to connect, both with each other and with priests and people along the way, an important Jacob's community was formed , which enriched the religious space in Slovenia and certainly multiplied faith in God and our Savior Jesus Christ, whose disciple was St. Jacob.


Methodius also took care of many other things: for the issue of images on important events, folding books, travel documents, pilgrimage certificates, for seals and boxes for them on the way, he opened the association's website, he took care of the promotion and publication of pilgrimages in the media, for public presentations in various parts of Slovenia, he connected with Jakob's societies in Europe, and he and his wife Marjeta also became honorary members of the Jakob's brotherhood in Santiago. With their drive and example, they also influenced the work of the cycling section, which supplemented their first information boards with new layouts across Slovenia and also opened a cycling website. A documentary film was also made about the pilgrimage.

All this great work of the Rigler couple was a weighty reason for receiving the award of St. Cyril and Methodius, who received it with pride and gratitude from the hands of Archbishop Stanislav Zoret this year, on the feast of St. Jakob after 20 years of fruitful activity.

But God's ways are not in man's mind. Although it often seems that everyone can plan them themselves, sooner or later he realizes that he needs God's blessing to carry out each plan. And when the mission on earth is completed, farewell to this world is inevitable. Methodius, the Pilgrim of Compostela, as he liked to call himself, and the greatest Pilgrim of Jacob in Slovenia, as Archbishop Zora called him in his funeral address, completed his mission two days before the holiday All Saints and was buried two days before Thanksgiving Sunday. Utreya and buen camino je were his frequent greetings to pilgrims. Utreya in buen camino on the eternal path of Jacob, today we welcome him to his little Jacob.

Cycling section of the Society of Friends of St. Jacob

Well, we missed it by half an hour, because the route goes up and down through the region of Galicia all the time, which is quite extra tiring. After mass, we visited the basilica and the tomb of St. Jakob, for buying souvenirs and writing postcards and packing bicycles on the bus for only two and a half hours. At 4:00 p.m., the bus left for the Atlantic coast to Finistere, 80 km away, where many pilgrims go before going home. We were extremely grateful to Metodi for allowing us to transport to Spain and back, even though it was not easy to put two bicycles and two full bike bags in the trunks in addition to 50 suitcases.

On the long way home, we learned a bit more about the then 4-year-old Jakob's Society in our country and at the same time received an invitation to join it. Since we are not hikers, but above all keen cyclists, at first we did not find a reason to join a "hiking" association. But when Metodij and Marjeta suggested that we start a cycling section of the association, since they don't have any cyclists yet, it seemed reasonable to us. Thus, by divine intervention and not by chance, in 2004 we became members of the Association of Friends of the Way of St. Jakob, founded the cycling section of the association and took on a great and beautiful mission: tracing and marking the Slovenian cycling Jakob route (Prekmursko-Stajersko with the help of member Branet Bitenc).

Based on the course of events, we are convinced that by God's providence, we were called by Metodije to lay the route of the bicycle trail in Slovenia. That is why we are grateful to God for this mission, St. James and Methodius. Setting up and marking the bicycle path next to the footpath was not an easy task, as we had never done anything like it before, but our example was Metodije's persistence, warmth and unwavering will to revive the ancient pilgrim's Way of Jacob in Slovenia. And we succeeded.

Helena and Franc Štefanič

bottom of page