Hornillos, 8 September 2021
Tonight after a 14 mile day I decided to attend the Pilgrim’s Mass at the church here in Hornillos. There were 20-25 of us from the US, Germany, France, England, Ireland, and definitely Spain.
The Mass was in Spanish of course so I couldn’t follow the liturgy and since I’m not catholic I had to take my cues from those around me about when to stand and when to sit. I enjoyed sitting there letting the words wash over me like waves and soaking in the gilded art. There was a wonderful statue of Santiago; he looked so happy.
After Communion the priest called us all forward and began handing out copies of the Pilgrim’s Blessing in each of our languages and had us read them aloud one language group at a time. Then we sang a song written in French but easy enough for us all to follow.
Then the priest did something I didn’t expect. He asked each language group to sing something in our own language. When it came to the Americans (me and one other guy) I said the first thing that popped into my head, “Let’s sing the Star Spangled Banner.” My partner in this duet looked at me and said “I don’t think I know all the words.” It didn’t matter. We put our hands over our hearts and sang loud and proud even if we did sound like the Tone Deaf Choir of Hornillos. As we sang I thought about the Americans in Afghanistan and all the people back home.
After all the singing the priest had those of us with our pilgrim passports to bring them forward and he stamped them with great flourish. There was a bit more singing with the priest after that.
Before we left he wished us all a buen camino. I turned around and said, in my best Spanish, “And also with you because we are all here on a pilgrimage.” He responded, “Yes. In life as well we are on camino.” Then he asked my name and did something totally unexpected. He made the sign of the cross on my forehead, placed his had on my head and prayed for me. Now maybe he was praying for you obvious protestant soul since I did not take communion, or perhaps for my terrible singing, or maybe he had some intuition that my right foot was in a lot of pain. What I do know is that this man prayed so fervently over me that I felt it down to my toes.
May God bless each and everyone of you on your camino.