Sojourning in Segovia!! Adventure in Avila!! Tromping to Toledo!! Then to Madrid!
August 16, 2011
Sorry for the little pause here… As you can see, I completely lost all my Internet access once I got to
As I am writing this, I’m on a little bus between Toledo, where I was last, and Madrid, which will be my mini home for the next 3-4 days… The opening mass for World Youth Day is tonight and since my last post, the intensity has really been picking up… Everywhere we go, we’re starting to run into more and more pilgrims… While in Barcelona, we met a group from Hong Kong… a group we’d end up running more and more into as they had a more or less similar itinerary as we did… We ran into them again in Montserrat and again, in Avila… They were the first other group of pilgrims we saw, but were definitely not the last. We saw some Austrians as well in Montserrat, some Americans from Texas in Zaragoza and some other Canadians and local Spanish pilgrims in Segovia and Toledo… In addition, last night was the humongous festival of countries in Toledo for the 15,000 or so pilgrims in the city. It was in the middle of one of their famous parks just outside the city walls… There were so many youth from so many different countries present as we celebrated Maas together with the Archbishop of Toledo, who’s also the primate of Spain before partying into the night… More on this in a second.
Last time I wrote, I had just spent a day over in Montserrat and left for Zaragoza… It was a nice pilgrimage site but too full of touristic pilgrims for my taste… It was just a little too busy… My last day in Zaragoza was a rest day… one of the only ones we’ll be getting in our entire trip… It was awesome!! A much needed break from our super hectic, breakneck speed schedule… We all took advantage of the late morning by sleeping in just a little bit more than usual… Then, we had a free morning… After breakfast, a few of us went to the nearby market to buy some fruits and veggies while avoiding the octopuses and horse meat… Hhehhehe Then, we went to the Basilica-Cathedral of Zaragoza for mass before heading over to Segovia, one of the last cities we were to visit in Spain before the Youth Forum in Toledo and the World Youth Day in Madrid…
Of all the cities we visited, Segovia is by far one of the most beautiful… It is a city well known for it’s ancient roman aqueduct, one that is the most complete in the world… The next day, after arriving and settling into our hotel in Segovia, we went for mass in, of all places, the monastery where St. John of the Cross is buried… This Spanish mystic and friend of St. Teresa of Avila is known for his Dark Night of the Soul, a treatise on the period of spiritual dryness that often accompanies people as they delve deeper and deeper in their relationship with God… It was amazing to be celebrating mass right next to his now empty crypt (he was interred when he was beatified and found to be incorruptible so his body now is placed above the altar).
After visiting him, a small group of us went on the guided tour of the city… Oe of the most interesting things we heard was the legend of the building of the city’s aqueduct… The legend goes that before the aqueduct was built, people had to go for a very long walk to the river to get their water. A woman from Segovia had to go down there for her family everyday and one day, annoyed by the Spanish heat (I don’t blame her either…) she had enough.. She cried aloud that if there was something to be done to lighten her load, she was willing to do everything, including sell her soul… A demon decided to try and take advantage so he appeared before her promising her to complete something by the next day that would help her out… She, out of despair (again, the Spanish heat is notorious) agreed… That evening, she was terrified on realizing more and more what she had just done… She did not want to lose her soul so she spent the entire night in the church asking Mary to pray for her and ask her son, Jesus for His help… The next day arrived and the demon did not come for her… He had made the aqueduct but thanks to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, he lacked one more piece of rock (which one can see on the aqueduct) and so he wasn’t able to finish the job…
After touring the city and visiting it’s magnificent cathedral, we took a big tour of one of the most beautiful castles in Spain… The castle of Segovia is breathtaking!!! It felt like being in one of those humongous Disney castles… They had a huge throne room for the Catholic kings and queens of Spain, we even saw their bedroom and dining room… Our tour concluded with a nice little climb up the tower where we had an amazing view of the entire city…. I’m slowly starting to run out of adjectives to describe all the sights I’ve been seeing…
Our next stop, the home of St. Teresa of Avila, the other Spanish mystic whose life and works have influenced many in the faith… She wrote a lot on the different levels of the slow ascent of the soul that follows Christ… Our holy hour this morning was in the chapel of the monastery where she spent most of her life (at least 30 years)… The altar was right next to her cell, which we were all able to take a quick look at after. The nuns who still inhabit and take care of her convent were very generous and welcoming to us all… It’s quite an experience to have, in just two short days, experienced a bit of the lives of two of the greatest Spanish saints of all…
This, by the way is the old cell of St. Teresa of Avila
We weren’t able to stay for a very long time in Avila and consequently, weren’t able to see much of the city because we needed to get to Toledo that evening for the mass with the Emmanuel community… We instead had a quick lunch from the market in the middle of the city, purchased some items from a nearby religious store and made our way to Toledo… I’ll have to get going now, because we’ve arrived in Madrid but I’ll try and continue this later on…
I’ll end this with a poem written by St. Teresa…
Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene,
nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
May nothing disturb you.
May nothing astonish you.
God does not go away.
can attain anything.
He who has God within,
does not lack anything.
God is enough!