Pain, suffering and the consumption of spirituality: a toe story


  • Cova Veronique
  • Cova Bernard


  • Body
  • Camino de Santiago
  • Compostela
  • Consumption
  • Pain
  • Pilgrimage
  • Spiritual capital
  • Spiritual feature

document type



The article addresses spiritual consumption from a corporal perspective, with a specific focus on pain and suffering as vehicles to a higher spiritual state. It applies a comparative auto-ethnography of the pain that people participating in two pilgrimages – the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain and the Quebec Compostela in Canada – feel in their toes and uses this to discuss how the experience and manifestation of pain actualises the spiritual experience. The results show that corporal pain transforms into a spiritual experience in the way that it connects to both the spiritual features associated with a particular context and the spiritual capital of the person experiencing the pain. They also reveal that displaying corporal pain during rituals – much like the sense of communion that is generated through the act of sharing – fosters further transformations leading to spiritual experiences.

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