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Published: October 22nd 2017
Geo: 40.6355, -73.7808
Big day, Peregrino Mass at noon! We had heard that the past two days the Cathedral was standing room only for the Pilgrim Mass, so we arrived around 10:30 and staked out seats and individually wandered and admired the church. It was probably 11:15 when we discovered a special roped off area for pilgrims with a credential, we jumped the rope and literally had a front row pew in front of the main altar!
We sat, we prayed and reminisced with fellow pilgrims. Before Mass started, the "Singing Nun" tried to teach us the responsorial song - all in Spanish, we just hummed along. She was very animated and at one point threw up her hands in disgust to show that we were terrible! As the grand organ played, a fifteen priests all in red and white vestments approached the main altar down the central aisle.
As Catholics, we could easily follow the Mass, but it was all in Spanish except for several of the prayers in Latin. For us, this was a little disappointing because the sermon and pilgrim blessing at the end of Mass must have been quite moving because many of the pilgrims around us were in
After the final blessing, the ceremony, that most of the 1,000 people in the church came to witness would begin. There is a giant silver botafumeiro (incense burner), weighing 175 lbs and when swung by eight men by a pulley system reaches speeds of 50mph. The ceremony lasted about three minutes and was pretty spectacular.
Following Mass, we had a tapas lunch with Jamie and Wade from Flagstaff. The rest of the afternoon was spent going to a laundromat, the train station to confirm our train to Madrid, shop for souvenirs, and get a bottle of cava (champagne) to celebrate the completion of our journey.
Throughout the day we would continue to bump into pilgrims we had met. Maybe the best encounter was with Lisa from Portland. We saw her with her pack just arriving in the Cathedral square. She was so excited, as we were the day before, to have completed her Camino.
These couple of days were so happy and so sad. We were laughing and visiting with friends, who we all knew, we would probably never see again! We all stood out from the non-pilgrim tourists, with our hiking pants and shoes. We were all now equal in
a way; those who did a thousand kilometers and those who only did a hundred, those who packed and those who "slacked", we had completed our Camino.
We had a late afternoon tapas, one was a skewer of grilled shrimp that was to die for. We then retreated to our two-star hotel penthouse, for cheese, chorizo, ham, crackers, olives and champagne.
About half way through our celebration, we saw messages from Amparo and Carlos that they wanted us to join them for dinner. We offered maybe coffee and dessert. Unfortunately for all of us, via email and Facebook messages (we could only communicate while we were in wifi), the logistics couldn't be worked out.
A bond had been created, and we wouldn't learn until the next day, how much Carlos wanted the four of us to get together one last time. Amparo related to us, that as they were looking for a restaurant, Carlos would look inside to see if we were there.
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