Portomarín - Palas de Rei (15 miles)
We woke up today and couldn’t move! We were so sore from yesterday! And today we faced another difficult day full of steep climbs and uneven terrain. But Fr. Graves lifted our spirits to begin the day, even though it had greeted us with rain, with a sermon on St. James the Apostle. Father explained that St. Peter is the apostle of faith, because he told Our Lord that He was the Son of God. St. John is the apostle of charity because he would always speak of charity between men. And St. James is the apostle of hope, and that our hope on this Camino pilgrimage is not only to reach Santiago de Compostela, but also to reach heaven – this is our true hope.
Although cold and windy from start to finish, the day showed a variety of clouds, rain, and sunshine, offering us an opportunity to offer up our torment under the elements, and then rejoice and be thankful for the bright rays of the sun. We heard that it is snowing in other parts of Spain, so we are grateful we didn’t have to face that!
The first village passed was Castromaior, a hamlet named after the large pre-Roman fortified town “castro” that once stood across the river. We continued to the Sierra de Ligonde, the highest point of the day’s route, around 2,480 feet above sea level. After the grueling climb, pilgrims were rewarded with spectacular views over the valleys below. The descent was equally as arduous, and we passed through the villages of Eirexe (meaning “church” in Galician) which boasts a church with Roman and Romanesque remains, and Ligonde, where one finds an ancient “cementerio de peregrinos” (pilgrim cemetery). Finally, we arrived at Palas de Rei, “Palace of the King” named after an 8th-century Visigoth king who once ruled the lands. Here, at the Romanesque church, our Camino passport was stamped. An outdoor Mass was scheduled, but due to the wind and rain, Father offered Mass at our hotel.
We are all terribly tired, but our joy greatly surpasses our soreness, knowing we have walked this far and gained many graces for ourselves and for our intentions.