Editor’s Note: From Aug. 15 to Aug. 22, Archbishop Paul Coakley journeyed on foot along the Camino Portugues from Barcelos, Portugal, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, the cathedral city of Saint James the Apostle. During his pilgrimage, he carried the prayers and intentions of many in our archdiocese. What follows are excerpts from the archbishop’s Facebook account.
Aug. 15 -- Day 1 on the Camino Portugues! On our way to Santiago de Compostela we came upon a wonderful procession in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary on this Solemnity of her Assumption into heaven. It was a very long and challenging day physically but beautiful scenery and weather!
Aug. 16 -- Day 2 on the Camino Portugues. We summited the highest point on the Portuguese route to Santiago de Compostela. It was a grueling climb but offered an incredibly beautiful vista. We celebrated Mass this evening in a 13th century church called San Pedro de Rubiaes. I am blessed with great companions for this journey!
Aug. 17 -- Day 3 of the Camino Portugues leads us along ancient Roman roads (Via XIX) and through beautiful countryside. We frequently pass markers directing pilgrims to Santiago (yellow arrow) and others to Fatima (blue arrow). We will enter Spain later today.
Aug. 18 -- Day 4 on the Camino Portugues was a long day! We had crossed into Spain at Tuy the day before. Instead of gentle walks through beautiful countryside we walked on too much pavement yesterday and my feet are feeling it. We walked more than 10 hours and covered more than 20 miles. Today will be an easy walk, God willing. There are always surprises along the way! And many blessings.
Aug. 19 -- Day 5 on the Camino Portugues led us along ancient Roman roads and a beautiful coastal inlet. We arrived in Pontevedra, a beautiful city in Galicia filled with magnificent medieval architecture and a vibrant city life. Unfortunately there is a summer carnival behind our albergue and it sounds like it will be going strong till the wee hours of the morning! An early morning start (predawn) will get us to our destination in Caldas de Reis before the heat of the day.
Aug. 20 -- Another predawn start on Day 6 of our Camino brought us to Caldas de Reis by 12:30 p.m. thus avoiding the heat of the afternoon! It is supposed to reach the low 90s here today. It was a beautiful stage through vineyards and rolling hills of the Galician countryside. We have two more days before arriving at Santiago de Compostela and the tomb of Saint James within the magnificent cathedral of that ancient city. I am carrying the prayers and intentions of many with me. Santiago, pray for us!
Aug. 21 – The first several days of our Camino we walked pretty much alone. That began to change a couple of days ago! Now within 16 miles of Santiago de Compostela we have the experience of being part of a grand pilgrimage joining hundreds of pilgrims on their way to Santiago and the tomb of Saint James the Apostle. Countless thousands have walked these same paths for more than 1,000 years. “Buen Camino!” is the common greeting between pilgrims and the blessing with which even the locals greet the tired pilgrims as they pass along the way. Tomorrow we hope to reach the goal of our pilgrimage and celebrate Mass at the Cathedral of Saint James.
Aug. 23 – We arrived in Santiago yesterday afternoon, the eighth day of our pilgrimage on the Camino Portuges. After cleaning up a bit our first order of business was to celebrate Mass in a small chapel next to the tomb of the Apostle, Saint James the Greater. There I placed the many prayer requests and intentions I have received on the altar in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It was such an exhilarating day! Today we will enjoy some of the rich culture of this beautiful old city and celebrate the pilgrim Mass with pilgrims who have arrived or returned to Santiago.
Aug. 24 – We leave Santiago today. Last night we had the privilege of celebrating the Mass at the principal altar. At the end of Mass we placed incense in the Botafumeiro before it was hoisted by eight men and swung through the air as a dramatic sign of the prayers of so many pilgrims rising to heaven. On this our final morning we celebrated Mass at the tomb of Saint James whose relics are contained in a beautiful silver sarcophagus. Blessed be God in His angels and His saints! Praised be Jesus Christ!of the Galician countryside. We have two more days before arriving at Santiago de Compostela and the tomb of St. James within the magnificent cathedral of that ancient city. I am carrying the prayers and intentions of many with me. Santiago pray for us!of the Galician countryside. We have two more days before arriving at Santiago de Compostela and the tomb of St. James within the magnificent cathedral of that ancient city. I am carrying the prayers and intentions of many with me. Santiago pray for us!