The Price of Admission
Day 24 (Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo)
Distance: 15.22 miles (24.49KM)
Time: 4 hours, 38 minutes
Total Distance To-Date: 372.18 Miles (598.96)
“I never weary of great churches. It is my favorite kin of mountain scenery. Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral.” —Robert Louis Stevenson
A week ago, I was walking in near freezing temperatures and a light rain. One week later, it is nearly 80 degrees and sunny. I prefer the latter!
There is no shortage of churches along the Camino. Unlike many other European countries, Spain is still predominantly a Catholic, church-going country. Even the smallest towns/hamlets have a church and active congregations.
When I have travelled in Italy, I was constantly amazed how many churches were wide-open throughout the day. Erin and I love wandering into small, nondescript churches. Often, there are amazing surprises in those little churches.
In Spain, it is hit-or-miss if a church is open during the day. Many have limited hours. I try to pop into as many churches that are open along the Camino. Admittedly, I tend to avoid the churches charging admission. I have strong opinions about admission fees to churches—I’m strongly opposed. In my humble opinion, I think it is wrong. (I’m not happy that among the Episcopal churches charging admission fees are the Washington National Church and Trinity Copley Square). I’m okay with charging for an (optional) audio guide, but churches should always be free places of refuge and prayer. Sorry to be on my soapbox, but it has been a prevailing “issue” on the Camino.
Today, in the little town of Cacabelos, there was a beautiful church. It was not ornate, but it had a simple beauty. In a side chapel, there was an extraordinary representation of Mary. Also, there was a remarkable engraved image of The Last Supper. It was my favorite church so far along the Camino.
When I arrived in Villafranca del Bierzo, noted for three beautiful churches, I discovered all three churches closed. Just another day exploring churches on the Camino.
Lesson of the Day: An open church is prepared to welcomed pilgrims.