Sunday, June 24, 2018

St. Michael's Basilica, Madrid

Hello, everyone.
Today we walked around and found Mass at what, for Madrid, is almost the crack of dawn: 10:30 in the morning. We were at the Basilica of St. Michael, which is also the nunciature (Vatican embassy basically) to Spain.
I took a photo of the altar a few minutes before Mass began.
The large painting shows St. Michael holding his banner as Satan falls down into the eternal trash burn. His banner has the Latin for "who is like unto God" written on it. Assorted other angels are in the area but St. Michael is the clear focus. Unseen here is a rear access passage that allowed the priest to go behind the altar and open the Tabernacle door during Mass to get out the ciborium.

The old altar, higher up and holding the Tabernacle, has 6 large candlesticks. The lower altar, which was the one used, has 6 lighter-weight candlesticks and a crucifix. I couldn't tell from my seat but this crucifix reminded me of the many old stone Camino markers that are a crucifix on one side and a figure of the Pieta or Mary praying on the other. The altar crucifix faced the priest and it looked like a figure of Mary praying might be on the part that faced the congregation.
The Tabernacle had a lace veil that just covered the front. (The actual door was on the back side.) The veil was translucent white with maybe flowers.
The altar has an altar rail, too. Using it made distributing Holy Communion go very fast, as everyone knew or instantly figured out what to do.
As we're winding down for a few days there may be fewer posts for a day or three.

Friday, June 22, 2018

In Santiago, third day

Hello, everyone.
After tending to the Compostela paperwork on Wednesday afternoon--there was a line but it moved right along--and tons of educational stuff yesterday, today we got down to the whole reason for the pilgrimage. We visited the tomb of the Apostle and went to Mass. Your blogger also got into the line for the traditional embrace of the Apostle's bust, and spent some precious moments in the Capilla del Sanctissimo, adoring and giving thanks. (Not even thought of in various guide books, but highly recommended.)
While in line to embrace the bust, a longer line than to reverence the Apostle's remains, your blogger happened to notice glass windows in the elaborate structure of the altar. One appears to show the top of the tomb chamber. Unfortunately the line was moving just a little too fast to use the tablet for a photo, so that picture is not in this post.
Instead, a picture of the cross above the Holy Door, which is shaped just like the Cross of Victory from Covadonga. The cross on the roof of the Cathedral above the tomb is also this same, distinctive shape.

The circle framing the cross is additional. The Alpha and Omega symbols hanging from the arms, however, are part of the original.

The Cathedral has Masses running at frequent times, in an assortment of common pilgrims' languages. We went to the English language Mass. It came just after the Italian and possibly the French. (With all those side chapels they can do that.) I saw a sign advising pilgrims of a German Mass in the evenings, too.
There are a number of confessionals along the side walls, too. They are all of the enclosed seat for the priest, open kneeler for the penitent variety. Often the priest has a sign posted giving the languages he is able to hear penitents' confessions in.
It is said that arriving in Santiago is not the end of the Camino, but the beginning of the rest of the Camino, which the pilgrim enters when departing for home. Certainly the pilgrim who looks at himself will find he has growth to continue.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

In Santiago, 2nd day

Hello, everyone.
Today, one of our planned rest days, we put walking shoes back on our feet and went discovering things.
We visited the church and museum of the Benedictinas, San Paio Antealtares, on the Rua Sacra. The church was using a tabernacle veil--a cloth in the seasonal color that covers the Tabernacle. There were a number of Benedictine saints depicted in paintings in their museum.
We went to the Cathedral Museum, something we had never done before. It is in parts, and the ticket gets you into various things. (Pilgrims who have their credencial get a discount.)
We went to the train station. Yes, it still has about a hundred and ten steps to get down to the actual station level.
Then we walked over to Sta. Maria de Saa, the parish church of the city. This is one of the parts included in the Cathedral Museum ticket. They close at 2 pm for siesta but we saw a number of interesting things there.

These buttresses were added to counteract the soggy soil in the area, which is near the river

The altar of the church. There is a remnant of medieval painting on the dome above the altar.

And for the capstone, we took the rooftop tour of the Cathedral roof. This was very interesting. Also quite athletic as there were many, many steps to ascend and descend.
Instead of eating formal dinner we ate tapas at Abaste (sp?) which is adjacent to the mercado of Santiago. We shared some really wonderful food there, a "ceviche" which was really a Spanish version of sea bass sashimi, and grilled octopus. These tapas filled us up and we called it a day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

In Santiago!

Hello, everyone.
Yesterday we crossed paths with a "gran colegio", a student group. Today we were intermittently in the midst of the about 100 Italian teenagers. They were going as a group, walking the last 100 km, with their bags transported and snacks provided. Before we all say, "must be the life," I think we should remember that this multiday walk covering about 62 miles is probably the longest walk the kids have ever had. All the same, one of the girls alternated between spinning her hiking pole like it should be a baton and trying to jump over it. Ah, youth!
We call groups like this The Childrens' Brigade. We're so used to being mostly alone and with the people walking with us going quietly as they each strive for the goal that it's hard to remember that the Camino is for everyone.
We got into Santiago today around noon.
Routes in the area of Lavacolla are not what we remember from 4 years ago. There is road construction in the area.
A little photo I want to share, the front facade of the Cathedral  here in Santiago. The big cleaning project is moving along and the difference is amazing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

O Pedrouzo, also called Arca dos Pinos

Hello, everyone.
We walked about 20 km this morning and reached O Pedrouzo about 12:30 or so.
It's a lovely, warm day out, so I hung all of our socks and towels on the line when I put the rest in the dryer.
We're staying in a nice albergue on the main street here. We're even next to a grocery store. There is a decorative almost-atrium in our dorm room.
The proprietor likes to play calming music--not elevator stuff, it's a little more elevated--so I am lying on my bunk being soothed while typing. (This is a nicer place than the state run albergues.)
We were having a rest break today and watching our fellow pilgrims walk by. As it was the second to last day of walking for everyone and most of the routes have blended into one, it was a parade.
Tomorrow about 20km to Santiago.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Arzua: we join the Ruta Francés

Hello everyone.
Before other things, I noticed that a word was omitted from yesterday's post. The Monasterio in Sobrado has almost nothing left of the original decorations. In fact, one of the cloisters, when it fell into other hands, was actually quarried to sell the dressed granite as building material.
Today we got out, not really early, but early enough at about 0730, and made it to Arzua about noon-thirty. It has been nice and sunny walking weather, too.
We're staying at the Albergue O Santo, on the square.
Of note if you're looking at these issues, the Camino del Norte comes into the town about half of the way through. There is a whole flock of places to stay clustered around where the French Way enters town. We are staying near where the Norte enters town, on the way out.

You can see our towels drying on the little balcony.
Tomorrow we will head towards O Pedrouzo, along with the other pilgrims from various routes. (By this time the pilgrims from the Via de la Plata and the Madrid route have also joined the flow.)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sobrado dos Monxes

Hello, everyone.
We reached Sobrado dos Monxes in good time today, a walk of 25 km. We took a rest break a couple of times, at the places we found cafe-bars. As the internet here is being slow, there will be only one picture.
Point of information on the name of the town: the monastery here was founded in the tenth century as a pair of Benedictine monasteries. (One male and one female) About two centuries later, the Benedictine foundation apparently gone, the original donors' heirs offered the property to St. Bernard of Clairveaux for use as a Cistercian monastery. There were many ups and downs over the centuries and now there are about 20 Cistercian brothers living there. They welcome pilgrims in fulfillment of one of their long time customs.
The buildings were heavily damaged in the years after the Spanish kings confiscated all the male monasteries in Spain because not only were the brothers chased out, but the king's desire for funds led to sales of the properties seized. As a result the present church and cloister has needed much repair and almost of the previous furnishings remain.
The dome at the crossing of the nave.

Tomorrow we will walk to Arzua.