Tossa’s Vow

Tossa's Vow

According to tradition, the bubonic plague swooped on Tossa in the 15th century and the population asked Saint Sebastian to help them to get rid of this terrible illness, promising to go for ever an ever every year on a pilgrimage to the next chapel consecrated to this saint. The plague disappeared and the citizens carried out their vow. Some years later they asked the Church for a special permit to be able to send one only man standing for the whole village to carry out the pilgrimage as far as the Saint Sebastian Chapel located in Santa Coloma de Farners, at 40 km distance from Tossa. The Church agreed and this is how Tossa’s Pilgrim was born and it has continued up to our days.

Since then, every 20th January, the Pare Pelegrí (Father Pilgrim), standing for the whole village, and all those people who wish to accompany him, walk as far as the Saint Sebastian Chapel in Santa Coloma and come back to Tossa the next day.  When they arrive, there is a very emotive procession through the village’s old quarter, passing by the walled enceinte, which is lit by fire torches, and finishing at the parish church of Saint Vincent.

This is a very respected tradition by the local population, as well as an act of faith and religious devotion. Most of the people who accompany the Pilgrim do it in accomplishment of a personal promise, and a lot of them walk all the way barefooted. Those who wish to join, believers or not, are asked to be respectful with the tradition and the rest of the pilgrims, and not to confuse it with a festive event or a march, which is not at all the spirit of this pilgrimage.