Monday, July 31, 2017

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

As you may remember, one of the things I've been trying to do as often as possible is visit the tomb of saints buried here in Rome on their feast day.  Today, July 31, is the Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola - the founder of the Jesuits and author of the Spiritual Exercises (which if you ever have the chance to make them - or even part of them, DO IT!!

So, today I went to the Gesù - the home church of the Jesuits here in Rome.  It is a late Renaissance church, originally very austere, but opulently decorated starting in the 17th century.  Now its frescoes, sculptures and shrines make it one of the foremost examples of Roman Baroque art.

In 1540, Saint Ignatius of Loyola needed a church to serve as the center of his newly founded Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), which the Farnese-family Pope Paul III formally recognized that year.  One of the society's members was the priest of a church called Our Lady of the Way, which the Pope designated as the Society's official church.  St. Ignatius, finding the church too small, began fundraising to construct a church worthy of the "Name of Jesus."  It took him 10 years to get the necessary permits (yes, even then you needed permits to build) before he could break ground.

But the original site wasn't ideal, so new plans were drawn up with Michelangelo being involved in the design.  A second ground-breaking ceremony took place, but this time wealthy neighbors fought the construction which would affect their houses.  The Pope's relative, Cardinal Farnese, agreed to fund the church and the final groundbreaking took place in 1568, 18 years after the first.  Unfortunately, St. Ignatius never lived to see the construction, but the church became his final resting place, making Il Gesù an important shrine for pilgrims to this very day.

Like many churches, Il Gesù has a transept that intersects the nave to create a footprint which forms the shape of a cross.  In the left transept is the tomb of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Using silver, gold, bronze, rare marbles and minerals like malachite, lapis lazuli and porphyry, the Jesuit artist Andrea Pozzo employed over 100 craftsmen to create one of the wonders of Roman Baroque art.  

Above the tomb there is a large painting of St. Ignatius receiving a "standard" (flag) from God (if you've made the Spiritual Exercises, you'll get that immediately).  Behind it is a large statue of St. Ignatius.  The original statue was made of pure silver, but unfortunately, when the church was confiscated during the occupation of Napoleon's troops, the Pope ordered it melted down to pay taxes to Napoleon.  Pozzo created a "conversion machine" or macchina barocca to unveil the statue.  During the day, the painting is seen.  But daily at 5:30pm the macchina is employed, music is played, the story of St. Ignatius is told, and the statue is revealed:  (I tried to hold steady, but I got tired.  Sorry)

Also in the Gesù is the right arm of St. Francis Xavier.  I paused to pray here for the people of St. Francis Xavier parish in Gettysburg.  

The ceiling is also spectacular.  Before leaving I prayed evening prayer in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
The blessed Sacrament Chapel

 Just to prove I really was there...

So, that was my visit today to the Gesù - the burial place of St. Ignatius of Loyola on his feast day.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Camino Day 5 - the Last day - arrival at Santiago

Today we again got an early start - left by 8am (but didn't say Mass in the albergue).  We arrived in the small town of Vila maior within 20 minutes, then on to San Marcos and Monte do Gozo.

I just like these LONG shadows...

The Monte do Gozo means "Mount of Joy."  After having washed at Lavacolla, they came to the top of this hill (and it was a LOT of upward climbing) to the top of this hill which looks out over the city of Santiago de Compostela and the spires of the Cathedral in the distance.  The joy came from what the pilgrims felt at seeing their journey's end - the Cathedral.  There is a statue of 2 pilgrims looking out toward the Cathedral.

Energized by sight of our goal, we headed down toward the city...  

And we entered Santiago!

And made it to the Cathedral!  We went strogzth there - prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for our pilgrimage - thankful that, while sore, none of us were seriously injured.  We went to the Pilgrim Office to get our credentials and certificates of Completion and prayed in the Cathedral for a bit.

The tomb of Saint James and the Cathedral

And then we celebrated with a nice lunch - and a beer (or two)!

Camino Day 4

Again, learning from past mistakes, today we got a REALLY early start - so after Mass and breakfast (leftover fajitas from last night) we were out the door by 8:30am headed toward Pregontono.

It was along this stretch of the Camino that we met a woman from Ireland - who was there with a group of young people - but she was walking by herself for a bit.  This is funny story!

We were walking along talking about pranks that happen in the seminary - and I was recounting how a friend had put holes (from a hole puncher) on top of the blades of my ceiling fan.  When I turned it on, they went everywhere... Then we started saying how the only thing that would have been worse was if it was glitter... and we started talking about how we hate those "glitter cards"... and we discussed our dislike for glitter.  At which point the Irish lady stopped, turned around, and said (in a lovely Irish brogue), "Is that what you boys talk about on the Camino?  Glitter?  Here I thought you'd be talking about sports or something, but, NO!  Glitter!"  No matter how much we tried to tell her we were talking about our dislike for glitter, the "damage" was done.  "I can't wait to go home and tell me friends that you were talking about glitter!  A priest and three seminarians, and glitter!"  We all had a good laugh.

But this was a really beautiful section of the Camino - through the woods until we ended up along a road again.

Oh, yea - and we passed this little place with these really weird ant sculptures...

And this was our "wrong turn."  The signs got a little confusing and we, along with the people ahead of us, made a very slight wrong turn - but got right back on track quickly.

We went through the towns of Burres, Bente, Salceda - where there was a nice spot to pause and have a drink - we've been on the road for about 2 hours now - time for a rest.  But we continued on to A Brea and Santa Irene - where we paused for some lunch (and again, a nice, cold beer!).

We refilled our water bottles and got back on the road - to A R'ua, O Pedrouzo, Amenal, San Paso and  finally Lavacolla - our destination for the night.

In Lavacolla we stayed at a real albergue - although we had a private room... well, the four of us in one room.  And a shared bath that was... well, "less than enjoyable" was how one of our brothers put it.  In fact, so "less than enjoyable", that none of us took a shower - just a "French Bath" as my grandmother used to call it.  Kind of appropriate... In ancient times when pilgrims were close to the end of the pilgrimage it was customary to stop at a stream which flowed from the town to wash themselves before making the final journey down to the Cathedral.  The name is said to derive from the pilgrims pay particular attention to washing their backsides - because literally translated "Lavacolla" means "washing the tail." 

We wandered out for dinner to the Hotel Rota Jacobea - but it wasn't open yet - so we just had a few drinks and ended up at San Paio where we had a nice meal.  Went back to get right to bed for our last day on our Camino Journey.

Camino Day 3

I'm determined to get this finished in the next day or two!  So, back to the Camino of Santiago - our adventure continued on Day 3!

We are learning, slowly, that we need to get an earlier start - and an earlier finish.  That seems to be the routine on the Camino.  We awake, had a nice breakfast, celebrated Mass and goofed off a bit!  Dan Carr found a good window from which to offer a "Pontificial Blessing" to all of us pilgrims below...

Anyway, we got back on the road and arrived first at the town of Leboreiro.  There is the church of Santa Maria de Leboreiro.  A very beautiful statue of San Diego (St. James) the pilgrim.  

After passing through the town of Furelos we crossed a Medieval bridge and came into Melide.

 I just thought the Calla Lilies were beautiful in bloom!

Melide has a fascinating history.  Is is the place where the two Casinos meet: the Camino Primitive (Original Way) ends here in Melide - while the Camino Frances (French Way) passes through the town on its way toward Compostela.  The story is that Melide didn't begin to grow until after the discover of the tomb of St. James - so from the 10th Center on Melide was important as pilgrims passed through the town - leading to many traders and innkeepers setting up shop to care for them.

In the early 14th Century, as the Archbishop of Santiago (Berenguel de Landoria) was on his way to Santiago to take possession of the Diocese, he stayed here in Melide.  To thank the townspeople for their hospitality he gave them permission to build a fortress and charge taxes - a fortress which was destroyed only 100 years later.

The town is a regular city - and provides pilgrims with a real present stop on the way.  And stop we did!  We had learned from other days not to put off lunch for the next town - because you sometimes never know what the next town will hold.  So, entering Melide, we found a place along the road to get some lunch - even though it was on 11:30 and we had not been on the road for that long.

We headed through the town - not without some confusion - as the Camino signs are now in the middle of the street... we hadn't seen that in a while.

We got back into the wilderness and found the donkey stamp.  Don't ask me...

But immediately after was an old stone bridge over the stream.  

And again, the beautiful countryside.

We continued on to Boente.  We found a church in the town: St. James (of course) in the Diocese of Lugo (the stamp tells me this).  

This doesn't seem like much - but after all the kilometers on aching feet at a rapid pace... this hill was KILLER!

So we stopped at the top at Bar No Camino go get something to drink.  Boy did that beer taste GOOD!  We continue on and arrive in Casteneda - a town which was famous for the furnaces where lime was prepared for use during the construction of the Cathedral in Santiago.  So it's got quite a connection to the Apostle and the Cathedral.

Everywhere along the way we kept seeing these...

WE did not know what they were and each a a turn at speculating.  I thought they were perhaps for drying produce or something - as they all had slats or holes and a small door.  (Turns out, in Santiago we asked a vender who had pictures of them - they are for storing corn).

As we drew close to Ribadixo, we crossed the Rio Iso - a very calm and refreshing spot.

But there was no time to waste!  Our goal was getting within sight - Santiago by Thursday!  So he pushed on into the town of Arzura - it is the last big town before Santiago.  It's a modern town - and you can tell that as you enter into it.  Because of our previous experience with Alburgue, we had booked an AirBNB here in Arzua.  We had a GPS on our phone and looked for the address.  I at this point was PAST the point of being tired... I was slow and hurting.

Fortunately we had arrived MUCH earlier than previous days - about 5:30pm.  Nonetheless, it seemed a long walk through the town until we finally got to our AirBNB and met our host, who took us to our apartment for the night -- 4th floor!  YIKES!  These tired feet - those packs... 4 flights!  OUCH!  But we all did it - collapsed in the dining room and opened up a cold drink.  This was a nice apartment that we had all to ourselves - four separate rooms, kitchen, dining room and bath (of course).  We were TOO TIRED to go out for dinner, so we simps went to the local grocery store and bought stuff for fajitas (Old El Paso).  We bought ground chicken and beef pork - at least that's what it said...  it was REALLY pink - and when we cooked it, it didn't change color (so Stephen and I just added the El Paso flavoring so no one would notice the odd color - better the others now know).  We also got some chips, salsa and lemonade beer - oh, and ice cream!  Had a pleasant evening here where we recharged for Day 4.