Santiago de Compostela

John 3:16

Today was a day to play the role of a tourist. We managed to sleep in almost to 8 and enjoyed a leisurely buffet breakfast with two cups of coffee and all the other stuff we don’t get with a typical bar breakfast. By the time we finished breakfast we should of had five or six Kms under our belt. Yes, it feels strange.

We got our tickets to Finestere for tomorrow and double checked locations for our bus rides. We need to leave our hotel by 8:30 and walk 10-15 minutes to the place where we catch the Finestere bus at 9. We will tour several places on the coast before returning to town at 6:30 where we catch the airport bus at 7. We fly to Madrid at 10:30 and hopefully get to our Madrid airport hotel by 1 AM so we can get up the next morning at 7 to catch the shuttle to the airport for our 11:40 flight. Such is the life of the tourist. Much more complicated than donning your pack and walking.

Went to the Pilgrim Mass about 45 minutes early. Good thing the place was standing room only and we had great seats. We just did whatever the Nun to the right of us did. Stand, kneel, sit at the right time is important. Understood the part where they recognized the pilgrims from Estats Unidos along with another 20 or so countries. Followed the Mass pretty well. The singing Nun had a great voice and the Pagentry was excellent. Did not see the swinging incense burner. Today’s pilgrims are a pretty scrubbed bunch so they don’t do it everyday. We departed as good Protestants when the host was being distributed.

We found the last of the needed souvenirs and trinkets. Returned to the hotel and did a trial pack. The boots are going to Finestere for a solemn ceremony before we put them on the burn pile with the other pilgrim cast off clothing. The boots have done their job but neither of us want to permanently add odor to the stuff we want to keep. Besides the soles are starting to delaminate and the heels are about gone. Would have made good deer deterrents.

Santiago, the Moorslayer and Patron Saint of Spain, has been attracting Pilgrims for more than 1000 years. The pilgrimage was in high gear during the 12th and 13th Centuries and continued to be popular until the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment. In 1974 less than 300 pilgrims received a Compostela certificate. The number pushes 200,000 each year today. The number was twice that in the Middle Ages. Medieval Pilgrims didn’t need or demand as much as modern pilgrims. Santiago is the goal but the real experience is the Camino.

The Cathedral is built upon a Roman temple to Jupiter and a Roman graveyard. The early churches from the Visigothic period are long gone as are the early pilgrimage churches. The church of the late Middle Ages was trashed by the Vikings as well as the Cordovan Emir. In fact the early bells were snatched and taken to Cordoba and not returned until Cordoba was recaptured around 1250. What was rebuilt was then torn down in the 12th Century to build the grand Cathedral. The place was constantly remodeled and the glorious Romanesque sculptures were hidden behind a Baroque facade in the 18th Century. The Romanesque artwork is undergoing restoration so we could only see a limited amount. Did see old St. James with his Pilgrim worn surface that is protected from modern day Pilgrims.

Around the Cathedral is the vast complex of hospices, palaces and government buildings. Many were under the direct sponsorship of the king. The Parador, next to our former monastery turned hotel, was the project of Ferdinand and Isabella and then General Franco. In fact, the abbots and bishops of Santiago have been adept at playing their politics correctly. As a result there was much money for projects all the way into the 19th Century. Central Santiago was spared the Industrial Revolution making it an ideal tourist destination today.

Frankly it is a weird feeling not walking five or six hours. The day seems long. Watching new arrivals with their packs, albeit much too clean to have traveled far, make us somewhat jealous. We have lost our outward Pilgrim identity and are just normal tourists. But I do find that we are an observant two. Things have slowed down for us. Unusual for both of us. We will have to see if it makes a long term change in our behavior.

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5 thoughts on “Santiago de Compostela

  1. What a beautiful place to come to end your trip! I’ll be praying that you make all your connections to get you safely home!!
    We have had two days of rain and everything looks renewed and clean.

  2. Congratulations on the completion of your pilgrimage! Thank you for sharing your journey with us as it was a trip of a lifetime! Bert thinks that “Taking a bite out of an Elephant” would be a good title for a kindergarten book, Peggy. Have a good trip home and hopefully we will see each other soon. Love, Heather
    PS We are going to miss tuning in each day!

  3. We wish you Traveling Mercies, and a safe and joyful journey home. Looking forward to seeing your shining faces!

  4. Interesting observation about the return to “normal” tourists. Even though there are 200,000 pilgrims on average each year, you two are the most loved. Looking forward to hugging you both. Love you

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