Day two, Madrid: a feast day

23 Jul

Unbeknownst to us, Sunday is the feast day of Santiago (St. James, the patron saint of Spain), so we were thrilled to attend Mass at the Catedral de Santa Maria de Almudena and witness all the pageantry. The cathedral was packed, the Mass was televised and the cardinal of Madrid was the celebrant. The procession of musicians and dancers from Galacia lasted more than 10 minutes. Galacia is the province where Santiago de Compostela is located, and that is where St. James was reportedly buried, hence the The Way of St. James pilgrimage.

In his homily, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela discussed the Spanish economic crisis, noting that people know Jesus through pain and suffering. He talked about the importance of faith, hope and love during the crisis and urged the Spanish to pray to St. James, who is the country’s patron.

After Mass, the church-goers gathered on the steps and were treated to performances by the musicians and dancers. It was interesting that the Galacians mostly used bag-pipes, but as Caitlin noted, they are Gaelic in origin.

The Cardinal was among the crowd and greeted people for at least 30 minutes. I was able to snap a photo of Caitlin and Maddie with him in the background!

Caitlin and Maddie pose in front of the Cardinal at Catedral de Santa Maria de Almudena.

We wandered over to the church gift shop, and Caitlin found some bracelets of scallop shells, which is the symbol of the Camino. So we each bought one and will wear them on the walk.

All in all, the feast day celebration was a great way to commemorate our walk, which we officially begin in two days.

Monday morning we will have to say goodbye to Madrid and board a train for Pamplona.

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