Welcome to the fourth edition of Dispatches from the Camino. Fr. Iriberri and IVC member Christine Eberle share their reflections from further along the Camino trail. Below are some highlights! And don’t miss the updates on our Instagram and Facebook pages!
Fr. Iriberri: Short walk today: 14 km. We arrive to Lleida pretty soon (1 PM) and we had time to pay a visit of the city, do the laundry, do our journaling… and receiving the new pilgrims just arrived from the USA. Now we are a big group of 25 pilgrims: more fun! The walk was again very pleasant. Although cloudy at the beginning and with some drops falling, the temperature was again of 60 degrees and short sleeves once again: Fall it seems far away in the present calendar. Next week the forecast says that the temperature will go up again to 80 degrees. We are in Catalunya and the Segre River irrigates generously this land that produces all kind of fruits. It is something like the Paradise: everywhere you turn you find peaches, nectarines, apples, pears, corn, olives, vineyards… no wonder the Roman Empire build big settlements here. Asphalt roads and dirt roads in a very flat countryside makes the walk easy and comfortable. In the afternoon we had our first meeting with the new pilgrims at the parish of Saint Ignatius in Lleida. We exchange impressions about the last 17 days and the expectations of the newcomers. We are excited to be in such a big group and happy to walk together to Manresa. After our meeting, we celebrated the Sunday mass as a community of pilgrims and had a wonderful dinner to be ready for tomorrow.
Christine Eberle: Today was a “short” walk . . . Just nine miles, mostly along the Segre River. The high point of the day came at 5:00 PM, when ALL THE PILGRIMS gathered in front of the hotel to walk to the parish of St. Ignatius for an orientation meeting for the new pilgrims followed by Mass. We are 25 strong now, and delighted to be all together at last!
Fr. Iriberri: Cloudy day again. No rain, just some drops to keep us awake. Good temperature once more. We say goodbye to Lleida, following the Segre River. Breakfast was abundant in the Hotel Real. We are a big group now and we are really noticeable for the people. Some ask about the meaning of this group and we explain bout IVC and the 25 anniversary of its creation. Going out from Lleida is not pleasant: the industries are everywhere and the smells pretty intense. Not the best quality of air for some pilgrims that are enduring some lung problems. We walk in silence for the first two hours, helping to meditate about the Way of Jesus to Jerusalem. We are following now the 3rd week of the Spiritual Exercises, feeling His call to the disciples to keep His own mission, united in the eucharistic communion. The grayish sky seems to talk about this difficult moment for Jesus. And our walk becomes somehow a penance: today we needed three different taxis in three different moments to help three pilgrims to reach the end of the step. Stomach and lung problems have been a huge obstacle to our rhythm today. 25 km is a long step but it became longer due the interruptions that arrived unexpectedly. Nonetheless with a lot of patience and goodwill we walk from Lleida until Palau d’Anglesola, enjoying the green of the fields, taking pictures of the water pools on the road, sharing some moments of relax, having a wonderful lunch in Bell-lloc El Parador… To overcome the obstacles makes us stronger and more confidents that we will reach our goals. At Palau d’Anglesola the local Pilgrim’s Association offered us a warm welcome, explaining their way to offer hospitality, and offering some local products to us as a welcome gift. We enjoyed a lot their presence and we offer some donation to the Association in gratitude. It was a very long day (nine hours from Lleida to Palau) but we liked it very much. Tomorrow should be shorter… at least in time!
Christine Eberle: Super long day today: 24 kilometers AKA 15 miles! Leaving Lleida we all noticed that we are a much bigger group to wrangle now! During our walk today we passed a field of sunflowers: the official flower of the Camino Ignaciano. Look closely at the church tower below and you will see its summer resident: a stork! Most of the local storks have migrated south for the winter, but today we saw several lingering in this unusually hot October.
Christine Eberle: Today after another 15+ mile walk, we came to Verdu (Kevin, add an accent over the “u”), birthplace of St. Peter Claver. At the age of 22, he entered the Jesuits, and was assigned to the Jesuit college in Palma de Mallorca. There he encountered the humble doorkeeper Alonso Rodriguez, SJ (also later canonized), who encouraged him to volunteer to work in the Americas. He arrived in Cartagena de Indias (in what is now Colombia) in 1610—a truly dreadful era in the slave trade. Declaring himself “slave of the black slaves forever,” Claver dedicated himself to the physical and spiritual well-being of those arriving on slave galleys. He did this work for 44 years, often to the derision of local and even church authorities, dying at the age of 74. He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII, who said that since the life of Christ, no life had moved him as deeply as the life of Peter Claver.