A Pilgrimage to the Marian and Eucharistic Miracle Shrines of Western Europe

Date: 07OCT (Fri). SANTIAGO. (Day 5)

A wake up call again was made in order to make us awake at 7AM. Our breakfast was 8AM and then at 9:20AM, we proceeded to Santiago the Compostela Cathedral.

We prayed our morning prayer, led by group 3 of Fr. Estong, while on our way to Santiago de Compostela. After the morning prayer, bible bullets were distributed and I got this one: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness,” (1Peter 2:11).

The focus of pilgrimage was in Santiago de Compostela particularly at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Santiago de Compostela is the capital city of Galicia, Spain, and one of the most important places in Catholicism because it is believed by many to be the place where St. James the Great, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, is buried. It is told that Saint James decided to return to the Holy Land after preaching in Galicia, Spain. There he was beheaded, but his disciples managed to get his body to Jaffa, where they found a marvelous stone ship which miraculously conducted them and the apostle’s body to Iria Flavia, back in Galicia.

Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sanctus Iacobus meaning ‘Saint James.’ According to tradition, Compostela derives from the Latin Campus Stellae meaning ‘field of the star,’ that is, a light of a bright star guided a shepherd, a hermit named Pelagius, who was watching his flock at night to the burial site in Santiago de Compostela. The shepherd quickly reported his discovery to the bishop of Iria, Bishop Teodomiro. The bishop declared that the remains were those of the apostle James and immediately notified King Alfonso II in Oviedo. To honor St. James, the cathedral was built on the spot where his remains were said to have been found. The cathedral borders the main plaza of the old and well-preserved city. The tradition, which included numerous miraculous events, enabled the Catholic faithful to bolster support for their stronghold in northern Spain during the Christian crusades against the Moors (Islam), but also led to the growth and development of the city.

In the 15th century, the red banner which guided the Galician armies to battle, was still preserved in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in the centre Saint James riding a white horse and wearing a white cloak, sword in hand: The legend of the miraculous armed intervention of Saint James, disguised as a white knight to help the Christians when battling the Muslims, was a recurrent myth during the High Middle Ages.

And so, like the ancient pilgrims, we dedicated the morning to walking the narrow streets of Santiago towards the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Despite its Baroque facade, the present Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is predominantly Romanesque. In fact, one of the finest Romanesque churches in Spain. The interior of the cathedral retains its pure Early Romanesque style. The construction of the cathedral began in 1060 in the reign of Alfonso VI and was completed in 1211.

The sacred relics of St. James lie beneath the cathedral’s high altar in a silver coffer. They can be viewed from the crypt.


The remains of St. James the Great

Actually, a small church was first built over the tomb of St. James shortly after it was discovered in 819 AD. This was destroyed by al-Mansur’s Moorish army in 997AD. Although Almansor left the relics of St. James the Great undisturbed but he did, however, force the citizens of Santiago to carry the bells of the tower to the mosque in Cordoba.

Following a tradition dating back a thousand years, there were pilgrims who had made their way to pay homage to Saint James, drawn by a common faith in the Catholic Church and the Christian Community. We arrived at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral at around 9:30 in the morning. Lucia, our tour guide of the place, waited us at the bus parking area. Once all of us were prepared we started our walk tour towards the Cathedral. Lucia explained to us its significance and then stopped if there was a significant event as presented by what we have seen and then walked again. While walking we took some photos.img_20161007_095304

We proceeded to the entrance where the tomb of St. James is kept after admiring the beauty of the sculptures and architecture of the cathedral. We fall in line because we wanted to see or embrace Saint James (Santiago) the Apostle and visit the crypt to pay tribute to his mortal remains.

After viewing the mortal remains of St. James and paused for a moment, we went outside and looked for toilet but there was none. Many toilets were inside of stores and restaurants. You can avail of the toilet for free if you buy something. Since we could not find any toilet, we went straight to the entrance of the cathedral for the 12 noon Mass.

When we were inside the Cathedral, at around 11:30AM, Lucia brought us to the sacristy for our vestment because we,  five of us priests and Bishop Gutierrez, would concelebrate. Lucia introduced us to the in-charge; have our vestments worn; signed the logbook of the sacristy; took some pictures; and then at exactly 12 noon the Mass began. But before these things happened, we went to the toilet first.

The Mass started at 12 noon and it was presided by a Franciscan archbishop. The Mass was in Italian; the responses of the Mass were in Latin; and the gospel and the homily were in Spanish.

During Holy Communion I was one of those who distributed to pilgrims and other people who attended. It was a great opportunity for me and a grace came from God to bring Christ’s body to people and them, in return, be closed to Him.

Before the final blessing, it was their tradition to have the swinging incense to people.


Swinging incense at Santiago de Compostela Cathedral before the final blessing

Swinging the censer at the Catholic cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain is supposedly the largest censer used in a church. It crosses the nave and into both transepts of this cathedral. But no photo during the Mass and so we were not able to take pictures especially the swinging of this big thurible (or incense). And then final blessing was given by the main celebrant together with Bishop Gutierrez.

After the Mass we went back to the sacristy; unvested ourselves; went out from the Cathedral; and had some coffee courtesy of Lucy Decio, a co-pilgrim from Marbel, at the Puetra de las Platerias. And then five minutes before 2PM, we went back to the parking area where our tour bus was waiting for us to bring us to a mall to have our afternoon lunch. But when we were already at the parking area, our bus driver was not yet there and so we waited him for about ten minutes.

At exactly 2:25PM we departed the parking area for our lunch in a mall. We arrived at the mall at around 2:35PM; went inside the mall and looked for its restaurant. The restaurant was in the third floor and then we ordered our food but I was the last one to eat my food since it was served late. I ate it hastily but while waiting my patience was tested.

After I had eaten my food, we went back to the place where the bus dropped us by at around 4PM. When we were already at the place the bus arrived two minutes after. And then at 4:10, we went back to Hotel Hesperia Pelegrino; had some rest and at 7PM we had our dinner. Although it was already 7PM but, for me, it seemed it was still 5PM here in the Philippines.


At the bar of Hotel Hesperia Pelegrino

After dinner, I and Frs. Estong and Bonie and drank some wine (13 Euro). After awhile, we went back to the hotel and the three of us drank again another glass of wine at its bar (3 glasses but 15 Euro).

For more pictures, please see my Facebook

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