Cruz de Ferro & to Ponferrada

Fr. Jim and his hiking partner, Joe were also staying at the El Refugio so we spent time chatting and getting to know each better. Fr. Jim had problems with His Knees On Down Hills so we invited him to share the cab and he was happy to do that. Antonio was there promptly at ten.
Brian, Fr. Jim, Antonio & Donna

The Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross) is said to have been first erected by ancient European Celts who settled in North western Spain intermarrying with Iberians circa 1000 BC. Later it was dedicated to Mercury (protector of travelers) by the Romans. Then it was crowned be a cross. Today it is a wooden pole with an iron cross on top. The original cross is in a museum in Astorga.

For centuries it has been the custom for pilgrims to bring a stone from home to place at the foot of the cross. The stone may represent an intention or a burden that you lay down at the cross. Brian brought with him a stone from the front garden of the Carmelite Monastery where his sister Cathy (Sr. Mercedes) is. Fr. Jim blessed his stone and he placed with the millions of others for the intentions of the good women of Carmel. I brought stones for my parents, my brother Bruce (a heart key chain I got him in New Orleans just before he died) for my Aunt Prilly and my friend Linda Devan, all of whom who have passed away, and for burdens I want to put down.
Fr.Jim placed his hands on our heads and gave us a blessing (as well as to several other near by who requested the same.) It was a very emotional experience for all of us.
There is a rustic chapel nearby and a picnic rest area for pilgrims who have walked or biked up the to the 4934′ high point.
We drove down toward Ponferrada, through numerous small towns. Antonio pulled over several times to poi t out small villages down in valleys as well as snow on nearby mountains.
We dropped Fr. Jim at Molinesca, a lovely looking village with flower boxes in the windows and a river for pilgrims to soak their sore feet in. The downhill was very steep and rocky and difficult. This morning as we were walking across the plaza looking for some breakfast someone yelled Brian’s name. Their were Fr. Jim and Joe who had just taken a cab to Ponferrada. They were walking around the town then taking a cab to Villafranca as Joe had bad blisters on his toes from yezterday.
Here’s a preview of the Knights Templar Castle right across from our hotel.


12 thoughts on “Cruz de Ferro & to Ponferrada

  1. Each missive has been a delight to read Donna (except for Brian’s illness) but this one inexplicably caused me to weep. Go figure! As from the beginning of your journey, prayers continue for your safety and the joy of discovery! Hugs, Jean

  2. Thanks for sharing that touching story. Wow you were carrying a lot of stones, Mom! Thank you for remembering those loved ones. May they Rest in Peace. This reminds me of large pile of stones at the end of the Appalachian Trail.

    Speaking of the AT, do you find that many Pergrinos take on a “Trail Name”? This is a common practice for long distance hikers on the AT. Many of them also use their trail names if they later hike the Pacific Crest Trail. I refused to do so at first since I didn’t think my trail persona was any different from my ‘real self’. Then for fun, after reading “Journey to the West” on the trail, I took the name Tripitaka, after the pilgrim at the center of that old Chinese tale.

    • Hi Chris, Good to hear from you. Sorry I missed you on Father’s Day. I love your comparisons with your trail experience. I haven’t come across people using trail names, but in a number of th things I read people would sometimes give other people descriptive names. We are about to go do the Castle tour and I’m remembering how you & Teo loved the Irish castles. Wonder what Seeger would think of this. I’m hoping to get a picture he could use to copy with legos. Love Mom

  3. I’m am lighter now. Physically and emotionally. Thanks. Always good to hear from you. Dad seems to be getting a little better every day. Last night the first night with no coughing, a long way from a week ago when he had to sleep sitting up cause lying down brought on bad cough jags. Still not a lot of energy so we continue to take it easy and rest. Love Mom

  4. Hi Donna and Brian, I am glad Brian is feeling better and you are doing well too. Your treck is marvelous, and I applaud you both. I am home now, I had a great time with the kids. Be. Extra careful and stay safe. Love you both, Cilla

  5. Hi Uncle Brian and Donna, thank you for taking us on your journey. I look forward to it everyday. Jim and I are enjoying our twin birthdays. Donna, I was just telling Jim about your dear brother Bruce yesterday. I will never forget that visit with all your siblings here in NOLA.
    It was a deeply moving moment in time and I never felt closer to you. Give my Uncle a big kiss from us. Love, Patti, Steve and Jim

  6. You guys are incredible. We’re just back from a month in South Africa and hadn’t had the chance to keep up with your peregrinations. Brian’s nice post card was waiting for us. Donna, your posts are wonderful. So glad Brian is feeling better. Love to you both, Mike and Ma\ggie

    • Hi Mike, Great to hear from you! It’s a great trip even if it’s not going as planned. Did you hear the funny story from Cele about my meeting some guy from Ponca City?! D.

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