Encounter with the Secret Pilgrim

I had heard rumours of a so-called secret pilgrim, or hidden pilgrim, from the concierge at our hotel in Santiago. It was all a bit cryptic, so I decided to find out more. But first, it was time to visit the museum and tour the cathedral – including hugging the Saint.

Santiago cathedral

This latter is another pilgrim tradition. Saint James’ relics are contained in a large life-sized reliquary in the cathedral. And by climbing the stairs behind the altar and under the watchful gaze of a member of the clergy (no selfies allowed) you can embrace the jewel-encrusted golden reliquary.

St James reliquary

And then we explored the rest of the Cathedral, finding niches and side rooms richly decorated with Camino symbolism.

Santiago cathedral

The Cathedral museum, housed in the former Benedictine monastery next door – was the very monastery from which Dom Salvado came to Perth in Western Australia to found New Norcia – itself the subject of an Australian pilgrimage route. The museum held a wide range of art objects and religious objects – chalices and the like, and statues formerly mounted on the Cathedral, and a couple of spare Botafumieros that have been used over the past few centuries.

Botafumiero

We met up with Camino friends Dekel and Jack once again. They had walked to Finiserre and Muxia and had returned to Santiago before departing back to the UK. We shared a wonderful meal and drinks with them before parting. It is definitely worth hanging around in Santiago for a few days to meet up with those wonderful people we had met along the way.

Jack and Dekel

Later in the evening, it was time to seek out the hidden pilgrim. He was a shadowy figure, only seen at night. And there is a story attached.

Legend has it, that centuries ago a monk fell in love with a nun and planned to elope. He told her he would dress as a pilgrim (great disguise as there would have been thousands of pilgrims as they are today), but at the appointed hour she didn’t show, so he appears every night hoping for her to turn up. It is, of course, a trick of the shadows formed by the base of the lightning conductor and his staff is the shadow if the support column for the Berenguela clock tower – but it makes for a good romantic – even gothic – story! It was made all the better for the late evening gloom and the rain that fell steadily throughout my search for the pilgrim.

Secret Pilgrim

It was time to celebrate with a Tarte de Santiago – the famous Galician almond cake that provided excellent sustenance along our journey. We would not be eating many more of these once we left Spain, so it seemed a fitting conclusion to our Camino. Next stop Madrid, then Rome!

Tarte de Santiago

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here is a link to the index page – also found in the navigation bar at the top of this blog

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9 thoughts on “Encounter with the Secret Pilgrim

  1. Charlotte MancaWells

    I have loved what I have read of your Camino but I believe I came in in the middle. Is there a simple way to get to the beginning of the pilgrmage and work forward? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Jerry Everard Post author

      Thanks Jules it was a pleasure meeting you (again) before our Camino – I’ll be putting up an index page soon so that you and others will be able to revisit the story and trace our steps 🙂

      Reply
  2. Kathleen Colobong

    Hi Jerry, I remember you mentioning the Secret pilgrim. I hope I can remember to find it if I am fortunate enough to visit Santiago again. I agree with you about staying extra days in Santiago and ditto on the Santiago cake. Yummy. Thank you so much Jerry for writing and sharing your wonderful journey and photos with us. I hope it is not the last to see of your Camino accounts. In my daily life, I find that there are certain Camino moments that surface periodically without me even trying to remember them. And with each moment, a story behind them filled with that Camino magic. Many thanks for sharing and Buen Camino.

    Reply
    • Jerry Everard Post author

      Thanks Kathy! I hope you do manage to revisit some of these places – there is so much to see that I think it’s impossible to see everything on one Camino 🙂 We are planning to return next year to walk from Le Puy – so there will be more then, but also I will be posting from time to time on Camino subjects as, like you say, there are Camino moments that resurface in our daily lives, which after all is what mindful travel is all about. I will also be posting up some lessons learned and a new packing video before long 🙂 Buen Camino!

      Reply

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