When Kerry lost her job back in December last year she immediately thought about going on the Camino but it’s winter in Spain, too so instead she applied for a job with FOCUS. FOCUS hired her but told her that she wouldn’t be starting until June so she made a fast decision to take the pilgrimage before work started.
Within 10 days, without any training and preparation, she was on a flight to Spain. According to her, it is one of those few pilgrimages that you can go on that is so simple, you can just be there and be free to just walk the route. You don’t even need a map for it because there are yellow arrows marking the route and the friendly locals are very willing to help.
On the route she was able to make friends with fellow pilgrims who also started the trip alone. She started in Roncesvalles, Spain but most pilgrims starts in St Jean Pied de Port, which is on the French side of the Pyrenees.
The route took her through a wide variety of terrain. At the beginning, she started in the Pyreness, which is similar to Colorado with lots of pine trees, hilly, very dry, a lot of scrub bush, lots of other bare trees just starting to bud. In La Rioja, the wine region, the soils are very red and the mountains are very blue. The colors were just so intense.
She went to Meseta, where it’s very flat and full of wheat and corn fields. Some people take a bus to skip over this region because they said it was boring but for her it was the perfect chance to be in tuned with herself in silence. At this point she crossed over the mountains and the climate and scenery was completely different. It’s very wet, more seafood and houses built with different architectural styles. In Galicia, which is “Celtic Spain,” she was surprised at how green and English-looking the countryside was. The pilgrimage ended at the Cathedral of Compostella which you can’t see from a distance like in the movie The Way. She actually walked into the square where the cathedral was and didn’t see it at first because it was covered in scaffolding.
Her favorite sight was her view of the Cathedral once she realized that she had walked right by it into the square without knowing it. This moment was really memorable for her, as she was really struggling with tendonitis. The last 18 miles took her 14 hours to walk and she thought she couldn’t make it. But through prayer support and some friends who met up with her again during this final leg, she was able to do it. When she finally saw it, she broke down and cried for an hour.
On her trip, Kerry took a book that folded out like an accordion that she used to paint pictures along the way. This clever book had an elevation map along the bottom of the whole thing with all of the towns along the way marked with the various services available. Apart from the beautiful paintings, she also used it to collect her credential stamps where she stayed. Focus published the book and is planning on using it for fundraising in a few months.
This week we get to celebrate the memorial of St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests. You can check the link below for a view of his incorruptible body in a glass case above the altar. You can also visit the home of the Curé of Ars, where his rosary and other personal items can be seen.
It is also the dedication of St. Mary Majore on the 5th of August. Legend says that a Roman patrician and his wife, who had no children, made a vow to donate their possessions to the Virgin Mary. They prayed that she might make known to them how they were to dispose of their property. On the 5th of August, at the height of the Roman summer, snow fell during the night on the summit of the Esquiline Hill. In obedience to a vision of the Virgin Mary which they had the same night, the couple built a basilica in honor of Mary on the very spot which was covered with snow. A solemn celebration recalls the Miracle of the Snows. After Mass, a cascade of white petals descends from the dome, blanketing the floor below.
The month of August is also dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is a good time to start thinking about a Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Please check the links below for the prayers, and how to do it in the way recommended by St. Louis de Montfort.
Have you been on the Camino? Please leave comments about your trip.
Links to things we’ve talked about on the show: