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.