What does the pilgrim expression Ultreia Et Suseia mean?

Modern-day pilgrims choose to walk the Camino de Santiago as an escape from their daily routine, to get back to nature and to enjoy new experiences with the people that they meet along the way. One of the questions that these pilgrims most frequently ask is the meaning of an expression often heard along the Camino: “Ultreia et Suseia”.

Although it is true that this expression was heard more frequently among those who walked the Camino de Santiago in the distant past, it can still be heard among pilgrims today, along with the popular “Buen Camino!” and other ancient expressions that date back to the Calixtine Code. Therefore, if you are planning to walk the Camino, it is essential to know the meaning of the pilgrim greeting “Ultreia et Suseia”.

What is the meaning of the expression Ultreia Et Suseia?

After years of research, historians have concluded that this ancient expression was a greeting, exchanged between pilgrims to give one another encouragement. When two pilgrims met, one would say Ultreia, and the other would answer et Suseia.

More specifically, the term Ultreia is an altered version of a Latin word meaning “beyond”, while et Suseia means “and higher”. However, experts also affirm that the Calixtine Code also used the word Ultreia to mean “alleluia.” And so, for some Ultreia et Suseia meant something along the lines of “let’s go higher!” or “Keep going!”.

On the other hand, some historians who have studied the the pilgrim expression Ultreia Et Suseia, believe that the expression referred to a wish to meet again, either when they arrived at the Cathedral in Santiago, or perhaps one day in heaven.

What is the origin of the expression Ultreia Et Suseia?

The origins of this pilgrim greeting are in the Calixtine Code. It appears in the musical part of Appendix II, which is also known as the pilgrims’ flamenco song:

Herru Santiagu,

Got Santiagu,

E ultreia, e suseia,

Deus adiuva nos.

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Oh Lord Santiago!

Good Lord Santiago!

Eultreya! Euseya!

Protect us, God!

The majority of pilgrims these days greet each other with a simple “Buen Camino!”, but the traditional expressions of bygone times still have their place on the Camino.

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