October 2, 2002

10/2/02 León, Spain

19 km

The streets were almost dry, but I still couldn't see any stars as I headed out into the dark. We were a steady stream of pilgrims along the highway. All morning, the sun battled the clouds. They each won a few rounds but I think the clouds took the day.

Walking a busy highway into León

Arrived in León, the fourth largest city on the Camino, crossing a pass by sharing the highway with speeding trucks and cars. Walked all the way to the city center with Regean, a Canadian from Quebec who has walked all the way from Le Puy, France. Tonight we are staying at the Benedictine Monastery near the cathedral.

Frances [France]

I had many reunions here in León. After sending out my eNewsletter, literally ran into Mark and Cristobol outside the internet café. They had taken the train from Sahagún. Angela got sick again and is cutting her trip short. Leif is also here at the monastery.

Detail (of hell) above one of the cathedral doors

The old city is magnificent. Too bad we had a cloudy day because the cathedral is known for it's extensive stained glass windows. I enjoyed just wandering the narrow streets of the city.

Had dinner with Cristobal, Mark, Mary, Ben and Brad. These two brothers had ordered what they thought was a meat platter but it looked more like the whole cooked carcass. The thing was huge, piled high with steaks, lamp chops, pork cutlets and even tongue. Must have been ten pounds of meat. But we had to eat quickly to make the 9:30pm curfew at the monastery.

At 9:35, one of the nuns gathered all the pilgrims to attend a blessing in the monastery church. Before we entered, she coached us on the ceremony. Inside, a group of nuns sang songs during the service, one soloist was like an angel. At the end, the Mother Superior gave us a pilgrim blessing and talked to us about our pilgrimage. A very moving blessing.

Blessing and Prayer for the Pilgrim

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, who brought your servant Abraham out of the city of Caldeas, protecting him through all his wandering and who was the Hebrew nation's guide through the desert, we ask you to bless these children of yours who, for the love they bear your name, are on a pilgrimage to Compostela.

Be for them their companion on the way, their guide at the crossroads, their shelter on the road, their shade in the heat, their light in the darkness, their comfort in weariness and their resolve in intentions. So that through your guidance they arrive sound at the end of their road, and, enriched with grace and virtue, return home healthy and full of worthy virtues.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

March in the name of Christ who is the way,
and pray for us in Compostela.