The Holy Grail

Exodus 15:2

We almost found it in the O’Cebreiro Church. Tradition has it that was hidden in this church. It is the oldest church to be connected with the Camino in all of Spain. It lies in the village of O’Cebreiro at 1300 meters on the mountain pass separating Galicia from Leon and the rest of Spain. The Romans maintained a military outpost and it was the location of a battle in 968 that kept Vikings out of Castile. This place is far removed from a navigable river. Not sure what the Vikings were thinking.

We climbed up here as part of a 15 km trip up the Valcarce River Valley. We left around 8 and traveled through green and more green for three hours before reaching the village of Laguna de Castilla after 500 meters of climbing and 12 Kms. Had a potato, onion, cheese “quiche” that took care of any hunger pangs for the rest of the day. Did the final stretch into O’Cebreiro and reached our Casa Rural above a bar and souvenir store by 1.

We were a bit overwhelmed by the Spanish movie crews filming in this tiny village that in 1974 boasted four residents. Today there is quite a number of B&Bs, Albergues and hotels in this booming tourist Mecca. The town was stuffed with the discharge from a couple of tour buses, the film crew and many new pilgrims as we are getting closer to Santiago.

The walk up the hill was strenuous but not too long. The guide books tell horror stories about the climb. There was nothing that two Limon stops could not handle. Got some great pictures and the promised rain held off until we had checked in and taken an initial tour of the village. We then showered, beered ( with sardine tapas) and moved into our room with a heater that worked and a thatched roof over our head. Quite charming.

Peggy complained that we had been in Galicia for ten minutes and that we had heard no bagpipes. our B&B made up for it and played a recording. fortunately, there are no bagpipes for sale. The Chris Christie look alike owner complained that the tour bus people don’t spend any money. We made up for quite a few tight wads. Hope there are no bagpipe stores on the Camino.

This is our first Galician village. As such we were pleasantly surprised by the number of restored homes of the Celtic design. They are similar to those built all over Brittany and the British Isles. They are build of stone in an oval pattern. The roofs are thatch with no chimneys since the smoke eventually escapes through the thatch. We experienced that last summer in Ireland and Scotland. No wonder they immigrated. But the smoke was great for curing ham. Peggy got a good picture of ham on a hoof.

Onto the Grail. Legend has it that it was hid here for safe keeping. A 14th century German saw it after being led to its location by the sound of a Shepard playing a bagpipe in the fog. The Pilgrim was saved but he never disclosed the location of the Grail. A more salient miracle was the time when a peasant climbed the mountain in a snow storm to receive mass. The priest chided him for his risk. The host in the cup and platen immediately turned into blood and flesh. The 12th century statue of Mary tilted her head to acknowledge the miracle. The priest was cashiered. The silver reliquary in front of the chalice and platen were the gift of Isabella on her way to Santiago.

The movie crew did not invite us to make a cameo but we got to wander around as the actor priest took a cigarette break.

We keep running into Pilgrims we know or have seen the last few weeks. It is tougher now to keep track of people because the increased numbers like a group of 16 or so Russians who started yesterday. They picked a nice hill to cut their teeth on. We are now under 100 miles and heading downhill tomorrow. See what happens next.

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4 thoughts on “The Holy Grail

  1. Loved the pictures. What lovely country, flowers and houses. You guys must be in great shape by now! The book says it is a strenuous days walk.

  2. What a beautiful part of the country you’re in! Fascinating story about the Grail. I expect we’ll be hearing bagpipes skirling down the canyon, in the next few months. I like the notion. Love the thatched buildings.

  3. Hard to believe that you are reaching the point of double digits for what remains of your Camino. It has been really wonderful being able to read about your experiences on the road and to see the photos. Really glad that you have your little machine. Love you

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