Santiago old city tour

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September 10th 2015
Published: September 10th 2015
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Today is the final day of the workshop part of our trip, beginning with a tour of the cathedral. The cathedral holds the bones said to be of James the apostle, miraculously discovered in 813, the whole reason for the Camino and the historic pilgrimage. The cathedral has been much modified over the centuries, starting as romanesque and containing Gothic and Baroque styles and more. Further there have been so many additions to the sides that most of the windows have been blocked. (There is plenty of artificial light.) The tour began in the museum and continued through the sanctuary, including a walk past the silver casket of James. There were those in the crypt who were very fervently (quietly) praying to the saint, We marveled at their spiritual dedication and gave them credit. We declined the opportunity to hug the statue of St. James. After a quick tour of the immediate surroundings in the old city, including a very busy marketplace reminiscent of Seattle's Pike Place but not as crowded and not filled with tourists, we had a rooftop tour of the cathedral. It was not like Quasimodo on the roof of Notre Dame. There were easy steps and a good railing so it felt completely safe. The views across the city were beautiful. The last point on the roof was an alter/tub where pilgrims would shed their old rags to be burned and receive new cloaks. We were invited to leave something behind "mentally". We both found it inspirational.

Back inside the cathedral we found we were just in time to see the swinging of the giant censer burning incense. This is a very famous action, with five men pulling the rope causing the censer to swing very high over the congregation. It is featured in both the documentary "6 ways to Santiago" and the Matin Sheen movie "The Way". We had a very close view and again found it very moving. We also got to experience the organ playing and the choir and congregation lifting their voices to reverberate throughout the cathedral.

We had lunch in the hotel cafe, Madalyn went to the room to tend to her blisters, and Gary went in search of an ATM and the less expensive hotel we are moving to now that the workshop is over. It was hard to find in the numerous narrow twisting streets of old town. We then hoped to catch a full pilgrim mass, but there was something special going on with a cardinal presiding and some foreign dignitaries. It ran past our meeting time for our farewell dinner so we left before getting to properly experience the swinging censer. We had an enjoyable farewell, anticipating seeing most of the participants again someday. We are now on our own looking forwardto an easy day tomorrow.


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