Basque Country

08/19/2018

Quite morning farewell view of the beach.
The Sanctuary of Loyola

Rose early on day two, breakfast was still an hour or more away so roomie and I decided to venture out looking for coffee. It was a lovely brisk morning in San Sebastián, the sun was rising over the bay and party goers were just finishing up with the nights’ festivities. With no coffee to be found we enjoyed a walk around the bay then returned to the hotel. After a tasty breakfast, the group boarded the bus headed to Loyola then on to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port France.

Our drive through the Basque country was stunning, green, lush and hilly. Upon arrival at the sanctuary site of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, we were in awe at the beauty of the baroque style gardens, birthplace museum, and Basilica. Ignatius was born into a noble and wealthy family. He was called into a military life where he was injured so badly it put an end to his military career. Ignatius spent his convalescence time reading about the Saints. During this time he converted, dedicated his life to God then went on to found the Jesuits order.

Monument of St. Ignatius Loyola

Our group toured the museum of Saint Loyola which houses several chapels. We had the privilege of celebrating Mass in the room where Loyola was born, convalesced and converted.  A caretaker of the museum invited our group behind the gates, closer to the altar so as to participate in Mass as a family.  It was a very emotionally strong and spiritual moment. Father Dan, the priest and spiritual leader for the group, was a military Chaplain serving during war times.  The surrounding was an inspiring place for the moving sermon concerning the suffering and faith of the soldiers Father Dan ministered. The desire of these soldiers to open themselves to the Eucharist; the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and the feeling of grace and the power of the Holy Spirit was very emotional bringing everyone to tears. Soldiers give up their innocence to protect us. Know it is important we honor our military soldiers, keeping them always in our prayers. After a very moving morning, it was time for another meal of pintxos and wine. The table held a variety of small bites of tastiness. My favorite bite was a sumptuous slice of pizza topped with a slice of boiled egg and an olive. I know, boiled egg on pizza, right! I also turned my nose at it, but ya’ll know me, I gotta try it. So glad I did as it was totally amazing, the sauce was light, the cheese was buttery, creamy and the crust had the perfect crunch.

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After lunch, we boarded the bus and headed to Saint Jean Pied de Port (Saint James footpath ) The quaint historical village was in the midst of the festival of patron saints. Bands performed up and down the streets, dancing, beer, wine and treats flowed in abundance and fun abounded! The basque know how to celebrate and our group was fortunate to be a part of several celebrations.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France

We could have partied longer in Saint Jean but we needed to head across the border to our hotel in Roncesvalles Spain. Prior to our group dinner, we had a meeting with our Camino guides, we were informed of how things would work for the next 11 or so days. We each chose an arrow with a word that expressed what called us to the Camino. During dessert, we were to share our thoughts of our arrow, however, the meal following Spanish tradition, was as is this blog, long and drawn out and had to end without the needed closure! The Camino and what called us begins, continues, and changes throughout our walk.

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