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25/09/2012

THE OTHER CHURCHES OF THE ROUTE OF SAINT JAMES

Pilgrims always have three things to hand: a bottle of water, a spare pair of socks and a cardboard passport stamped by the different refuges and churches they find along their way. Each place has its own stamp and they usually reflect the building they represent. Thick-walled Romanesque churches with scarce windows; modest chapels hidden in the forests of Galicia; and the last church, Santiago Cathedral with its baroque facade and Romanesque layout. Before they smell the incense of thurable and cast their view on the infinite details of the Obradoiro facade, pilgrims will have had their passport stamped in all of these anonymous temples of hidden beauty, but equally spectacular.

One of the most representative is the Romanesque church of Santa María de Eunate, the one with a hundred doors. Three days and many blisters away is Santa María del Camino, a church raised in the memory of four bulls. The building recalls the magic intervention of some bulls that saved four virgins from being handed over to the Muslims. Along the Route there are also very austere churches concealing large treasures. Behind thick walls, the Church of Santa María la Real in O Cebreiro hides the Galician Holy Grail, a chalice where wine was visibly turned into the blood of Christ. There is also a Santiago church (in Barbadelo) with a Calixtine Codex (V, not I), but its interest extends far beyond its similarity with the famous cathedral. Here each church has its own history, its own treasures and is also prepared to stamp the pilgrims’ worn passports.

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