Sunday, April 21, 2019
What an auspicious day to be in this vibrant city of pilgrims, tourists, Spaniards and Catholics and all Christians!
In Spain, Easter is celebrated is for the entire week before Easter Sunday – “Semana Santa” or “Holy Week,” is full of processionals with giant Catholic floats, musical bands and hooded brotherhood groups walking in somber penitence and also celebrating the country’s Roman Catholic heritage. Two years ago in Zamora we were fortunate enough to see a couple of these processions and they are amazing as well as chilling (though the hoods are centuries old in tradition, they are too closely aligned with our notions of the Ku Klux Klan – so it’s very creepy!
We started our day with breakfast at a favorite local spot, Tertulia, and then headed over to the Pilgrims Office to get our “compostelas” having left it undone yesterday.
From the website, pilgrim.es, “After the increase of pilgrimages during the 9 and 10 centuries emerged the need for certifying that pilgrims have done the itinerary following the established premises of walking for religious or spiritual reasons. These two reasons gave pilgrims privileges when it comes to receiving assistance or accommodation; this is how Compostela appear. Before Compostela, pilgrims used to get a scallop shell when they arrived at Santiago but it was very easy to be cheated and obtain a false shell. This change binds you to walk obtaining the different stamps that certify that you have gone through all the necessary villages and also that you have stayed the night in some of the villages. Compostela is the document that certifies that you have done at least the last 100 kilometers (62 miles) or the last 200 kilometers (124 miles) if you did it by bike.
This document is issued by the church; they would ask which the reasons to do the Camino were; to obtain Compostela you should do it due to religious or spiritual reasons or to find yourself along the way. You can get Compostela at Oficina del Peregrino (pilgrim’s office) located in Rúa do Vilar, 1. Phone number 0034 981 568 846. Here you can ask for the Certificado del Peregrino (pilgrim’s certificate) if you did the Camino for ludic, sports, or touristic reasons.
If someone dies during the way his or her family can ask for a document called In memoriam.”
There was no line when we arrived yet there were at least 30 pilgrims waiting as we made our exit! Good timing on our part! And for additional excellent timing, a processional was scheduled at 10:30 leaving enough time to enter the Cathedral, closed for mass yet still open to hug the statue of Saint James (a tradition upon finishing one’s Camino).
We were able to watch the beginning of the procession of The Risen Christ, travel ahead to see it a couple of more times, and then ultimately see its conclusion and the Quintana Plaza adjacent to the cathedral.
It was a joy to see children dressed up as angels as well as many youngsters playing musical instruments. It wa an extremely lengthy ceremony, especially at the end as a priest spoke and it appeared as if parts of the resurrection story were being acted out. I couldn’t understand a word of it though!
The remainder of our day was leisurely and another group dinner was planned for our last evening together and time for intentional closing. I was a party pooper though and could not muster one more group gathering and ended up opting out. Hubby had booked me tonight and tomorrow night in the same place we stayed in September, Pension Libredón a block from the Cathedral and I ended up enjoying a long, hot shower and my own personal time. It was juvenile of me – I have always disliked goodbyes. We have shared a treasure hold of memories that will be with me always.