Seminarians making the Camino de Santiago

Seminarians making the Camino de Santiago

This summer, Seminarians Stephen Robbins and Ryan Meehan are making the Camino de Santiago, a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of Saint James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. They will share their journey weekly on the iRace4Vocations Facebook page. The following is a glimpse of what they’ve experienced.

May 23

Today we began the first stage of our journey. We are in Paris right now, and we will then go on to Lourdes, walk the entire Camino de Santiago, and then finish up in Fatima. We are very excited for what the Lord has in store for us through the rest of our pilgrimage.

May 24

Today, after a long and much needed night of sleep, we woke up to say morning prayer together, grabbed a quick breakfast, and then got ourselves ready for a 50 min walk to Notre Dame. Also on our itinerary for the day was Sainte-Chapelle, which was built to hold the actual Crown of Thorns that Jesus had worn, and the Louvre Museum.

At the Museum we spent our time looking at beautiful, medieval, Italian paintings. One in particular touched me deeply. It was a huge painting of the Wedding Feast at Cana. While almost every person was crowded together looking at the Mona Lisa across the room, very few stopped to admire this huge painting, which I actually think was more beautiful than the Mona Lisa.

The face of Christ offered a gentle, warm, invitation to the viewer, to come be with Him.

May 26

Yesterday, on Ascension Thursday, we decided to finish up our stay in Paris by visiting the shrine of the Miraculous Medal, which is the place where our Blessed Mother revealed herself to Saint Catherine Labouré. After this, we hiked to the bus station to catch a 12 hour overnight bus ride to Lourdes.

May 28

Over the three days of being in Lourdes, I reflected upon what Stephen said to me when we arrived here. He said, “Lourdes is the Disney World for Catholics.” People of all age groups, from all over the world, travel to this Holy Marian Shrine, seeking healing and intercession from the Blessed mother.

Just as there are many roller coasters in Disney, there are many attractions here in Lourdes that draw many people in. Obviously, the primary attraction is Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and in the many Masses said throughout the entire day. The next thing that draws people to Lourdes is the grotto, where Our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette, and told her to dig a hole, and there she would find a healing remedy. This healing spring, then, is the thriller ride for us all. Many people are able to bathe in the healing water, which gets a person’s heart pumping like no other roller coaster could, for the water is ice cold. But, more than that, this water does something no ride can. The water brings healing to the crippled, the sick, and the suffering, and, also, the water brings healing to people spiritually. This healing water gives hope to the hopeless.

If this healing water does not change your heart, then, perhaps, the candle light vigil procession would. Last night, To see the thousands of people gathered together to pray for the world was an amazing thing to see.

The last ride we got on, however, was possibly the best one of all. This morning, we were able to partake in the Sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist, in the Grotto.

Now we are off to Saint Jean Pied de Port, where we will begin our 500 mile walk, through the French Pyrenees, and across Northern Spain.

May 30

The time had finally come to start the Camino de Santiago. On Memorial Day, we began to walk. The first stage of the journey was a sort of baptism by fire. It was close to 20 miles long, all through the mountains. The mountains were incredibly majestic, and the entire walk was a showcase of the beauty of God’s creation.We have gotten the chance to meet so many amazing people from all over the world, and all of them have different stories and experiences. I really get the sense that God manifests Himself to us through the people we meet on the way.

June 1

Yesterday we left from Zubiri to Pamplona, where the running of the bulls takes place.

Today, we left Pamplona to walk a 24k, equivalent to 15 miles, to Puente La Reina. This day was supposed to be our second hardest day; however, we were able to get here in six hours. One of the topics we talked about in the group we were with was, “What spiritual insight has God allowed you to experience, since you have been on the Camino?” As I thought deeply about this question, one insight came to my heart. That is, I thought I have already loved God with all my heart, but, yet, on this Camino, I have learned that I can fall in love with God evermore, even more than I ever have in the past.

June 3

Yesterday, we left Puente la Reina and headed toward Estella. One of the things that has really struck me here in Spain has been the magnificent churches all throughout the region. Many of them were built between the 10th and 12th centuries. While we were walking yesterday, we came across an abandoned 10th century Hermitage named after Saint Michael the Archangel. After praying there for a few minutes, I was really struck by a sense that I was participating in something truly sacred. So many people have gone before me seeking to rediscover Christ in their lives, and now I am here in search of the same goal.

June 5

Yesterday, we traveled from Los Arcos to Logroña. This was our second hardest day of the trip thus far. We had to travel about 16 miles. Everything was going smooth until we hit rain, about two and a half hours away from Logroña. This made the last hours of our trip very daunting, yet, in the midst of the suffering, there was much joy amongst us. As we walked through about a mile’s worth of mud puddles, slipping and sliding everywhere, we were able to laugh with each other the whole way.

Today, we traveled from Logroña, to Najerás. We walked about 18 miles. In the morning we shared in conversations with other pilgrims, with whom we were walking. After our break for a quick snack, we departed away from everyone, for our own time in solitude. We spent the time walking together, but in silence, so that we could have our own time in prayer, and in contemplation.

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