It was good to be able to relax this afternoon, to have a leisurely Spanish lunch and then a relaxed walk through the streets of Leon. The chill wind of the morning had died down and the sun warmed the city.
A small group of us went back to the church, in fact the basilica of St Isidoro. There is perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the church and it was good on the Eve of the Feast of Corpus Christi to spend some time there in silent prayer. It is a beautiful church, romanesque and very simple. Beneath the monstrance, set within the reredos, is the casket containing the bones of St Isidoro.
From there we walked to the renaissance-style Hostel of San Marcos. This was a pilgrim hostel set outside the city walls to give care to pilgrims with contagious diseases. The city walls are very much those built by the Romans when they established the city as a base for the legion. The name Leon comes from the legion and not from the lion, which is now the symbol of the city. It is an example of the games we play with words over time.
Ironically, the hostel built for those pilgrims excluded from the city is now a parador, one of that wonderful chain of luxury hotels which are throughout Spain and occupy historic buildings. It is a lovely place. Outside, looking at the building is a statue of a pilgrim taking his rest for the Camino passes the door of the hostel.
In the evening Sister Joyce CSF reflected on the twin themes of light and learning from this day, the light that comes through the glass of the Cathedral, the light of Christ that illuminates our lives and the learning to which St Isidoro gave his life. As I said earlier his saying was ‘yearn to learn’ and he worked at the integration of the head and the heart, learning and light. Sister Joyce was encouraging us to get the two in balance in our lives.
Tomorrow we leave Leon and continue the journey on the Way. A break, some leisure, time to simply sit, was good – but it will be good to get back on the Way. The group from the Cathedral actually walking the Camino have been walking today. It has been raining where they are and they walked 14km. Gill, who has been texting me says that tomorrow they will walk 28km. They ask us to pray for them. But, she says, they are having a wonderful time and enjoying each others company. It is great to be sharing with them in this holy journey.
Our Lady of the Camino, pray for us.
St James, pray for us.