The following are some of my pictures and observations about the religious and spiritual aspects of my second Camino:
- Saint James or Santiago – Santiago or St. James has taken on two very different identities in Spain. First, he is the patron saint of Spain and guardian of pilgrims, especially those who walk the El Camino de Santiago. If this is the “merciful” side of Santiago, he also has a “merciless” side in Spanish history as Santiago Matamoros or Santiago the Moor-slayer. Legend has it that during the medieval battles with the occupying Moors, Santiago would often miraculously appear on a white stallion and lead the Spanish armies into battle. In the garish depictions of Santiago Matamoros the saint is pictured holding his sword high with the battlefield strewn with the decapitated heads of the Moors. In my first Camino I came to see Santiago as a benevolent guiding spirit. There were countless times on that Camino when I felt there was no way I could continue and then, seemingly by miracle, the problem that was beating me down disappeared. I believe it was the help I received was the intercession of the Spirits, in particular, Santiago. But how could this benevolent force also be the symbol for the slaughter of countless thousands of men? During my second Camino I came to see this conundrum as representative of the two sides of Spanish culture, one light and one dark.
- San Roque or Saint Roch – San Roque is a Catholic Saint who lived in the 14th Century. Through miracles he was able to survive the plague (which left a wound or scar on his leg). He can be found in Spain represented as a pilgrim with his tunic raised to show the sore from the plague on his thigh and accompanied by a dog. As I walked the Camino Frances I was unaware of the story of San Roque and took several pictures of Santiago statues in cathedrals only to find out, after a little research, that the statue was of San Roque.
- Semana Santa – Photos from the Semana Santa (Holly Week) processions in Seville and Guillena. Also photos from the Semana Santa Museum in Zamora.
- Faces of Jesus –