We begin again on a beautiful misty morning, heading down some of the last of the country paths we will walk passing clear brooks, fields and forests. Gradually the environment shifts to residential, commercial and busy downtown areas. There is a glimpse of the cathedral spire down a busy lane, we turn a corner and suddenly are in a square outside the south portal.
At the pilgrims office, there is a line of perrigrinos waiting to get their documents stamped and their Compostela. After we have been documented, we go into the cathedral and wander through the side aisles to the pillar at the main entrance where a hand print has been worn in the marble where innumerable pilgrims have placed their hand in thanksgiving for a safe arrival. Most of the portico is shrouded due to restoration work but we are able to see St James seated in the middle of the stone, but the “Entrance to Glory” above him with Christ throned in glory surrounded by the apostles is covered. On the altar side of the pillar at the bottom is the carving of San Mateo who was the artist responsible for the carving. At the rear of the building we lay down our packs and take turns looking at the points of interest.
The giant thurible of course draws every one’s eye. There are a series of chapels around the apse but we do not have information about the various dedications. In the rerodos of the high altar, there is a huge statue of Saint James. We pass over the structure to a point behind the saint’s statue where the pilgrim can touch it and offer a prayer. It is covered with metal vestments so it will not wear out. We are also able to go under the high alter where the sepulcher of the saint rests. Here I kneel to pray and burst into tears. I am still not quite sure why this part in particular does me in, but it does. Partly I suppose because we finally made it, but partly for me, a sense of identification with the saint who loved Jesus and constantly tried to give his life to his Lord’s work with inconsistent results. He could never have guessed at the impact he would have on so many, and I am aware that I too must trust Christ to use my offering as He will.
We go out the front entrance to the square and marvel at the beauty of the facade. We are approached by a little old lady who asks if we are looking for a place to stay. (All in sign language of course). After checking it out, I return to pick up Tannis and Mark. We meet Anita with whom we have crossed paths several times. So our digs are a little two room apt. with a kitchen and bathroom on the top floor of a five story house. Very clean, neat and with a bit of a view over the roof tops outside our unit on a patio which doubles as a laundry area. Lovely.