Day eight begins

The morning sky shows broken cloud and we are hoping that it stays fine and dry on this final stage of our journey along the Way which will bring us to the ‘Heavenly City’, as Santiago is often called. One of the things I have become aware of on this journey is the fact that this was seen to be the end of the world by the medieaval Christians, hence the name Finisterre for that piont on the coast beyond Santiago that sticks out into the Atlantic and seems like the place where eveything ends. So this great place for pilgrimage appeared as though you were going as far as you could go and that is why Santiago is a vision of that heaveny city to which we all look.

Until I began this pilgrimage, Finisterre was just a name that I heard on those restless nights when I have still been awake as the shipping forecast comes on the radio. It made me think of the great poem by our Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, called ‘Prayer’. The poem begins

Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself.

and it concludes

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

The rhythm of the broadcast is akin to the rhythm of prayer, which has been a feature of this pilgrimage, Morning Prayer when we are on the coach, Prayer during the Day, when we have had the opportunity, the Eucharist and every evening, Night Prayer and the final singing of Salve Regina, the anthem to Our Lady that sends us to bed. A regular round of prayer and praise.

So we have an exciting day ahead of us. After breakfast we will leave Sarria where we have been staying overnight and cross the Mino river to visit the church of San Nicolas in Portomarin.

We then plan to have our first walk for the day on the Camino into Melide from Leboreiro (about 6 km). After that we will break for lunch where we taste the typical “pulpo” and then continue the walk to Boente through eucalyptus woods (again about 6 km). Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician octopus) is Galicia’s signature dish. The octopus is boiled and then garnished with paprika, rock salt and olive oil. The flavour is subtle and, I am told, inoffensive but the texture might put some people off. We will see!

After that we will drive to “Monte del Gozo” where pilgrims first saw the spires of the “heavenly” city of Santiago de Compostella and then will walk the last 500 metres to the magnificent cathedral of Saint James and our journey’s climax.

When we finlly arrive we are particularly looking forward to seeing the eleven members of the Cathedral congregation who have been walking to Compostella. They have had a wonderful time according to the texts we have recieved. We have been praying for each other on the Way. It will be good to be united in this most holy place. And today is a great day for meetings, for this is the Feast of the Visitation when Mary and her cousin Elizabeth embraced. We will embrace our friends with delight and love and, I am sure, exchange the kiss of peace, as did Mary and Elizabeth.

Mighty God,
by whose grace Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary
and greeted her as the mother of the Lord:
look with favour on your lowly servants
that, with Mary, we may magnify your holy name
and rejoice to acclaim her Son our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.