Monday, June 10, 2013

Walking the Way Part 3 - The Final Stretch

Paul Adams (commentary) and Katryn Adams (pictures)

This did not make any more sense in English

There were several fancier memorials along the way, but we found this humble effort the most touching

Nearly there.  Katryn's disposable poncho did not last much longer

More monuments and markers as we get closer to Santiago
Stream at Lavacolla where pilgrims traditionally purified themselves before entering Santiago
Our first glimpse of the cathedral in Santiago
The old seminary where we spent the first night
and its courtyard
The seminary holds some 170 pilgrims and is well supplied with kitchen, laundry facilities, lockers, and shop. When we arrived the city and cathedral was celebrating the feast of the Ascension and we were warned that the doors would be locked at 2:00 a.m.  We looked at each other, laughed, and the man at the desk recommended we take individual rooms at the back of the building.  We heard nothing and were asleep by 10:00 p.m. 

Inside the pilgrim office where we received our  compostelas

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Carved pillar from the original Romanesque doorway of the cathedral. If you look closely towards the bottom you can see the imprint of 1000 years of pilgrims putting their hands on it.
Old confessionals labeled with the languages spoken by the attending priest (in this case German and Hungarian). A wonderful young priest heard my confession in English and granted absolution in Spanish.  Katryn asked him to bless some medals she had brought for the purpose on behalf of a friend's mother in Oregon. I did a similar thing on behalf of a friend here at Ave Maria, FL.
Tombstone of Bishop Theodomirus, who founded the first church here (AD 829) 

Romanesque transept with presumably later dome

Detail of the baroque altarpiece

Pilgrims Mass: Where hundreds of thousands had been before us

The famous botafumeiro in front of the baroque altar.  Unfortunately we didn't get to see it in action. That happens on Sundays and feast days.  We thought it was a feast day but it seems they celebrated the Ascension a day earlier than the rest of the Church.  There's a clip of the botafumeiro, an enormous censer in action with Benedict XVI calmly waiting for the giant swinging flaming ball to come to a rest while everyone else gawked - in the first of this series of posts about the Camino, along with Webster Bull's excellent comment.  You can also see it near the end of The Way, Emilio Estevez's film starring his father Martin Sheen. Here's a clip, with a lot of interesting info at the beginning and end.  El Botafumeiro, use of which began in the 11th century, swings alarmingly back and forth in the transept above the heads of the pilgrims for whom this area is reserved.  As this clip points out at the beginning, "The primary reason for El Botofumeiro is to facilitate the offering of incense to God on a grand scale.  The incense smoke also provides the ancillary benefit of masking the odor of unwashed pilgrims who have journeyed across Europe to the cathedral to venerate the corpus of Saint James the Greater since medieval times."  I believe it was also meant to prevent the spread of contagious disease among the pilgrims and those who served them

Tympanum depicting the visitation of the Magi

Looking up towards the Convento de Bevis, next to the seminary where we stayed

11th-century manuscript depicting the missions of the apostles. That's St James going to Galicia at the bottom.
San Roque and his little dog

St. John with a tiny dragon emerging from his cup.  This, I learned from Wikipedia, depicts the legend according to which St. John was handed a cup of poisoned wine, from which, at his blessing, the poison rose in the shape of a serpent or dragon.

The little fruit market outside our hotel in Santiago

Le mejor cerveza
And so back home via Barcelona and some more amazing Gaudi and other Barcelona Art Nouveau architecture there

Remembering with deep gratitude all the many blessings of this wonderful journey and recalling the ancient Pilgrims' Prayer to St. James that is said at the end of the Pilgrim Mass along the way.  Its immediate sense is about the journey of the Camino itself, but it can be understood as about the journey of life that takes us to the "end of the Road." It also reminds us that before the days of modern transportation, this pilgrimage was a round-trip journey.

O God, who brought your servant Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans, protecting him in his wanderings, who guided the Hebrew people across the desert, we ask that you watch over us, your servants, as we walk in the love of your name to Santiago de Compostela. 

Be for us our companion on the walk,
Our guide at the crossroads,
Our breath in our weariness,
Our protection in danger,
Our albergue on the Camino,
Our shade in the heat,
Our light in the darkness,
Our consolation in our discouragements,
And our strength in our intentions. 

So that with your guidance we may arrive safe and sound at the end of the Road and enriched with grace and virtue we return safely to our homes filled with joy. 

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. 

Apostle Santiago, pray for us.
Santa Maria, pray for us.

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