Sunday, 18 July 2010

Hasta Santiago

I'm off to Santiago for a week of celebration. I'll write a full report when I return.
It is going to be a busy week. Yesterday I got a text from friends who arrived in A Coruna and are walking down to meet me in Santiago. On 23 July I am meeting up with the Big Man, friend, fellow pilgrim and guidewriter and of course singer extraordinaire. It will be a special day. I need to whisper this because he clearly doesn't want anyone to know and I have assured him his secret is safe with me...but I can tell you... it is his birthday...
I'll call in at the Pilgrims' Office to meet the new volunteers and staff including my friend Christine who has joined the Archicofradia and receives her medal at the ceremony being held on 24 July at the 1.15 Mass in the Cathedral. We have been corresponding for a long time and I am very much looking forward to meeting her. Christine is joining the staff of the Pilgrims' Office for 6 weeks or so as a volunteer so I'll be working with her too. Or will I?
Yesterday I got a note from the boss telling me that the Archicofradia has opened a new albergue in Santiago. It is big with 175 beds, wifi, luggage storeage etc. Four of my closest friends from the Pilgrims' Office have moved there to run it: Dani, Toño, Catuxa and Fernando. The name of the refuge is "Albergue Jaime García Rodríguez" in memory of the previous Director  of the Pilgrims' Office who died. I've said that I'll go and work there if more help is needed. What an adventure!

The new albergue is in Fontiñas a neighbourhood at the entrance of Santiago along the Camino Frances. To get to it you pass the refuge of San Lázaro. It is near to another albergue called Acuario.
The adress of the new albergue is:
C/Estocolmo, s/n (entrance by the C/Moscú)
Parroquia de San Antonio de As Fontiñas
Santiago de Compostela 

I'll post photographs of the new place soon.

Then comes the celebration of the Feast of St James. They do this in style.
Liturgically it starts with Solemn Vespers on the evening of the 24th. This is a traditional Vespers service of psalms and readings with an exceptionally high standard of choral singing. The first book of the Codex Calixtinus includes the chants for Vespers and a Vigil Mass on the eve of the Feast of St James. The rendition of the traditional Dum Pater Familias from the Codex is most beautiful.

On the 25th the Cathedral is full from early in the day with many seats reserved. At the appointed hour the Archbishop's procession begins from the door of the cathedral leading to the Plaza Praterias. As this is happening the King and senior politicians inspect the guard of honour in the main square as well as meet the civic authorities. They form up in procession then as the Archbishops's procession enters the square church and state meet and form one prcession into the Cathedral. The order of precedence is fascinating with the Archcofradia of the Apostol having senior rank. Usually in a procession the priest who is presiding comes last as the most senior. In a cathedral that is the bishop or archbishop. In this procession the King or his representative comes last and assumes the throne. He will then give a traditional greeting to the Archbishop and all of Spain. The Archbishop replies and the feast day mass continues. It is really a splendid affair.

To add to the festivities I am having a grand lunch with the pilgrims arriving on the Camino Ingles and others from Santiago and abroad who will be there. If we survive the day we'll all try to find a good vantage point to see the most magnificent fireworks display which includes a realistic re-enactment of the Burning of the Cathedral. This video of last year's give a flavour.

So....Happy Feast Day to everyone on the 25 July. I'll write a full account of the adventure of the week on my return.


  1. Enjoy the coming historic week and thank you for sharing your wonderful spirit and adventures with your readers!

    Meredith Sykes

  2. Wonderful post, and I'll be anxiously awaiting your next post! Almost makes me wish I hadn't decided not to go this year!! Enjoy it all and thanks for sharing!