Cloister in Los Arcos on the Camino de Santiago

Cloister in Los Arcos on the Camino de Santiago

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pilgrim Menu in Roncesvalles

DAY THREE 18th May - Roncesvalles

Pilgrims’ mealtime in Roncesvalles.

We made our way gingerly down, down, down, to Roncesvalles. On the way I met a pleasant lady Unitarian from Oklahoma who was on a year's Sabbatical. She and her companion had spent a week in Taize. A spell in Taize could be another item for my bucket list. I explained how a school friend now living in the States, a Unitarian, had helped me change my life by getting me to write down on a piece of paper exactly what I believed in. Being me, it took five pieces of paper, six months, four drafts but resulted in where I am now - deriving comfort and strength from a Quaker spirituality and from weekly meeting for worship.

Cool pints of lager awaited the thirsty pilgrims on our arrival into Roncesvalles – or in my case a cafĂ© con leche – probably far more harmful. Fraser had not only kindly ordered cool pints of lager but had also left his sandwich, perhaps for sale, on the bar terrace with the filling gone, presumably eaten. We got no buyers for his sandwich. Within two hours of arriving in our Hotel/Hostel – Casa Sabina – we heard peals of thunder followed by showers of rain and hail. We sipped our pints and coffees and drew ourselves in a little tighter to the hotel wall beneath the awning that was struggling with the rain. Fraser felt it best to withdraw the sodden sandwich at this point.

We got an interesting guided tour of the cloisters and the Sala Capitular housing the mausoleum of Sancho VII. We visited the imposing Royal Collegial Church of St. Mary. We all agreed that Roncesvalles had a strange atmosphere to it. Perhaps it was the fact that it had only 100 'official' inhabitants (only 30 according to John Brierley, where have the others gone?), many of whom where clerics, or perhaps the fact that the Church owned all the land.

The 'Pilgrims Blessing' at 8.00pm in the Church was a big disappointment for many, myself included. Instead of being a simple blessing, it was a full Mass in Spanish with no concessions to non Spanish speakers or to non Catholics. It just seemed a spiritual and marketing damp squib.
To be fair, the presiding priest managed to give the blessing at the end of Mass in a number of languages including an impressive display of cupla focail in Korean and Japanese (which hugely impressed Pat who did a decent Oriental imitation when called upon, and even when not).

In the photo above we are joined by two Spanish pilgrims and an English pilgrim. He had completed the Appalachian Trail despite being aged around 80 and enjoying poor hearing. The Appalachian Trail can take up to 187 days. You can count me out…

No comments:

Post a Comment