Tuesday, July 29, 2014

After Najera, my notes fail for a time

Hello, everyone.

When I consulted my little diary, I discovered that my entry on May 27 in Najera was followed by a break. The next entry was on May 30. So I have reconstructed a little more than usual to come up with what we did the next couple of days.
We walked. (Duh.)
Actually, we left Najera and walked, according to the map book, through Azofra and Cirena to Santo Domingo de Calzada.
Santo Domingo de Calzada is one of the saints that we don't hear about here in the States. He was an engineer and he built roads. This in addition to his prayer life and being a monk or priest...I am unsure about this part...and after his death he obtained miracles for people who came to his shrine at the church in Santo Domingo de Calzada.
The saint's church was also the bishop's seat for the diocese, so it's a cathedral.
Before we walked on the Camino, I didn't really realize what a good thing it was that Santo Domingo made roads. Then I spent some days walking--wading!--down goat paths that had become running streams and were full of uneven rocks in the bargain. Now I appreciate what a blessing a road is! Santo Domingo made roads and helping pilgrims his apostolate--that is, his life's work in honorof Christ.
There is a tourist information office in Santo Domingo de Calzada, and also there is a lot to see in the cathedral.

St. Anne, holding her daughter the Blessed Virgin, who is holding the Holy Child, Jesus

St. Veronica with the veil. Paintings of this veil are called icons of the Holy Face.

This was the first time I noticed an Adoration chapel along the route. I would have ducked in for a moment, but my sweetie was in Picture Mode and so I fended him off and didn't go in. (I was afraid he'd not see the sign and follow me in and start taking pictures. After a day of walking, it's hard to see signs.)

These are the representatives of the Miracle Chickens. They are housed in the cathedral for a year,
and then new representative chickens take their place.

The dean of the choir, I guess, had this chair. It is carved with the Miracle Chickens.
One of the miracles that Santo Domingo brought about was the rescue of a young man who had been wrongly hanged. (Note, please, that when you are strung up by the neck until dead, you are not "hung," you are "hanged.") He had been traveling with his parents on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, and the family had paid their respects to Santo Domingo en route. (Santo Domingo's relics were also something people went on pilgrimage to visit.) While in the town, he and his family had gotten crosswise with the innkeeper and he was accused--falsely--of stealing a silver cup. He was quickly condemned and was hanged. His grieving parents, plodding sadly out of the town, prayed to the saint, likely both to Santo Domingo and to Santiago, about their tragedy. The saint appeared to them at the edge of town and told them, "Go back. Your son is alive." Scarcely daring to believe, but unwilling to doubt, the parents returned and sought out the official. Said official was about to sit down to a well prepared dinner of roast chicken. The birds were already on the table, in fact. He looked at the parents and said, "I am sorry. Your son is no more alive than these chickens." At which word the chickens on the platter sprouted feathers and flew off, squawking the while! The official and the parents returned to the gibbet, where they found the young man being supported aloft by the saint.
He was brought down and released the the joyful family continued on their pilgrimage.
The tale not only illustrates the power of prayer, it also demonstrates the horrible things that could and did happen to ordinary travelers who were on a journey sometimes.
In memory of the miracle, to this day the cathedral of Santo Domingo de Calzada houses a pair of chickens. The bake shops in the town sell "miracles" which are puff pastry bird cookies with apricot filling. (Yum!) And the miracle chickens are carved, painted, rendered in silver, and represented by a pair of beautiful Leghorn birds in the church.
I read it and didn't commit either way at first. But I have been thinking. And one of the things I have been thinking about is the odd, strange, unbelievable things that happen. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and your ears alert. I have come around to a conclusion, therefore: I believe in the miracle of the chickens. Certainly I know that God watches over the pilgrims who journey to the tomb of Christ's apostle St. James.
I think that God also watches over the pilgrims who pay their respects to Santo Domingo, and probably also to the disciple of Santo Domingo, San Juan de Orbigo, whose shrine will be talked of in a later day's travel.
We stayed with the Cistercian Sisters at their monastery that night. There was one hospitalera, a lady, whose best language was Spanish. The albergue was "donation" and there was a bin there beside the sign-in book. She assigned us to a room with 3 actual beds and we shared it with a man who came from Colombia but was a teacher of Spanish at some college in the Eastern US. The hospitalera lit the fireplace in the sitting room and a whole circle of us lined up our chairs in front of it. (The weather was still cold.) A couple of people put their insoles on the mantle so the fire would dry them out. Fortunately they didn't smell bad. We ate the Menu del Dia at the nuns' Hospederia (fancy hotel) around the back side of the building, which was accessed by going around the block. The sitting was at 9 pm, and we barely finished in time to get back before the albergue doors were locked and the lights shut off at 10.