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PILGRIMAGE TO SANTIAGO

4. THE MOUNTAINS OF LEON

[Camino] [Journey] [Pyranees] [La Rioja] [Meseta] [Mountains of Leon] [Galicia & Santiago]
 
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After The Slough of Despond comes the Delectable Mountains. Two ranges have to be crossed and these are among the most beautiful and interesting sections of the journey. The mountain village of O Cebreio is a highlight in many ways, being  the site of an important medieval miracle and the church of Fr Elias Valina whose work and scholarship were instrumental in reviving the Camino in the twentieth century.

 

View of Astorga.

Once a major Roman city, now famous for the late Gothic Cathedral and Gaudi's Bishop's Palace.

Roman bridge, just outside Astorga

Gaudi's Bishop's Palace, now a museum of the Caminos. *

English Confraternity of St James hostel and adjacent Monesaery, Rabanal del Camino

Now a major pilgrimage centre, Rabanal was a deserted village when exemplary Refugio Gaucelmo was opened by the CSJ in 1991. There are now two other hostels, as well as a hotel, two bars, two churches and a three-monk monastery.

The iron cross, with one more stone being added to the cairn.

basically, a pile of stones on unknown origin with a stick protruding. Pilgrims are supposed to bring a stone form their home town to enhance the cairn. The site has been Christianised by placing a iron cross on the aforesaid pole.

Sataue of St James, Molinaseca.

Crusader fort, Ponferrada.

Chruch of Santiago, Villafranca del Biezo.

If a sick pilgrim reached the elaborate Puerta del Perdon, they recieved full remission for their sins without the need to journey on to Santiago.

Two pilgrims approaching the mountains.

View from O Cebriero over the valley.

Just inside the Galicia border, this village is in many ways the heart of the pilgrimage. The church is probably the oldest structure on the Camino, dating to the ninth century. It was here in the fourteenth century that a miracle was recorded during a mass whereby the Eucharist bread and wine were physically transformed into flesh and blood. The chalice from that mass is preserved in the church and is sometimes suggested, on what evidence I have been unable to discover, to be the Holy Grail; in any event it became a major icon of Galicia. O Cebreiro later became a key centre of the revived pilgrimage, when Fr Elias Valina was appointed as priest. His energy, vision and scholarship increased awareness of the Camino and persuaded a new generation of pilgrims to take the cockle shell.

The miraculous chalice of O Cebreiro, aka the Holy Grail.