Update - 2
The Camino Francés is the most famous Camino route, walked by millions of pilgrims from all over the globe since the Middle Ages. More than just a pilgrimage, the Camino is a very unique social and cultural experience, and a truly memorable adventure.
Our parish priest, Fr. Simon Yong, SJ, is currently undertaking this journey and he'll be sharing photos of his pilgrimage when he can as he'll be walking most of the time and may not have Internet access on his stops.Do keep him in your prayers during this time.
More “holas” from Spain!
My fellow pilgrims from the Sacred Heart Cathedral,
We have just returned from a detour of the Camino Francés. We arrived in León two days ago and took a transfer to Oviedo. Why a necessary detour? If one thinks about it, people go to Lourdes and Fatima with no further thought than that of veneration—a sacramental act of honouring the Lord through His Mother and the Saints. But, we felt it necessary to make this detour because there is a saying: “Quien va a Santiago y no al Salvador, visita al criado y no al Señor” loosely translated as “To go to Santiago and not to San Salvador (i.e., the minor basilica/Cathedral of Oviedo) is to visit the servant and not the Lord”.
Here in the Cathedral is the Camara Sancta—the chamber where the Sudarium is kept. Amongst the many items found in the wooden chest reliquary, there stands one which appears to be out of place—an insignifant piece of bloodied cloth—unless it is of greater value than all the treasures found there in. It is believed to be the cloth used to wrapped around the head of Jesus as well as corroborates the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin.
Oviedo is not well known and certainly not as well known as Santiago is. But, it is an important starting point.
In the not too ancient past, there were four major points of convergence for the Christian world that match the four cardinal directions—Trier in the North, Rome in the South, Jerusalem in the East and Santiago in the West.
The fall of Jerusalem had rendered pilgrimages to the East so much more perilous and the discovery of the remains of Saint James drew pilgrims to this part of the world. Jerusalem needs no justification for her importance. Rome carries the remains of Peter and Paul and Trier is the site of the first major Church to be established in Germany and also it is where the relic of the seamless robe of Christ is housed (which was given by the Empress, St Helena).
Pilgrimage however goes back further than to any of these places. 15 of our Psalms are dedicated to pilgrimages to Jerusalem (Ps 120-134) but pivotal to what we are doing is the Exodus—the trail of trial and temptation on the way to the Promised Land which lays down the template for our journey through life and also the need for constant conversion.
Deep in the heart of a pilgrimage is our sense of Godliness and our desire to be reunited with the Divine. According Benedict XVI, “The Wise Men of the East … represent the setting out of humanity towards Christ, they inaugurate a procession through the whole history. They are not only the people who have found the way to Christ. They represent the interior desire of the human spirit, the encountering of religions and human reason with Christ”.
In the remaining days, as we traverse the geography of faith, walking the paths cut deep by prayers we continue to seek out scattered traces of holiness where God grace has produced splendours of beauty and of conversion and to ask from God a spirit more generous to live our Christian vocation once we get home. And for that, we felt it necessary to make this detour so that our holy quest may begin with a visit to the Lord before we seek Him in Saint James.
Fr Simon Yong