9-Days: Madrid to Santiago: The Way of the Saints

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

We depart en route to Madrid with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.

DAY 2: ARRIVE MADRID

Upon arrival in Madrid, we are met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative, who will accompany us throughout our journey. We enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour of the city while rooms are prepared at the hotel. Transfer to hotel for dinner and evening. (D)

DAY 3: MADRID: VISIT OF THE CITY

This morning we will visit the famous Prado Museum that contains the most impressive collection of classical paintings in the entire world. We will also visit the Royal Palace of the Bourbons which has over 2,000 rooms, including outstanding rooms such as the Room of the Throne. We will celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage in the Cathedral. The rest of the day is at leisure as we enjoy the pulsating atmosphere of this impressive city, strolling as we do through the ever-charming streets of Madrid. Tonight we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant with entertainment. (B, D)

DAY 4: MADRID / SEGOVIA / AVILA

Today we travel to Segovia. Segovia is a charmer, and most visitors remember it for the Roman aqueduct which bisects the town. After a visit to the dramatic cathedral here, we make our way across the river to visit the
sepulchre of St. John of the Cross, one of the Doctors of the Church. After our visit here, we are off to the walled town of Avila, made famous by St. Teresa, another Doctor of the Church. Dinner will be served at the hotel. (B, D)

DAY 5: AVILA: VISIT OF THE TOWN

Today we visit the Monastery of the Incarnation where St. Teresa spent many years of her life. Here we celebrate Mass. We visit other sites important in the Saint’s life, including the Monastery of St. Joseph, her first foundation. The rest of the day is at leisure. Dinner will be served at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 6: AVILA / LEON

After breakfast we continue our journey to Leon, the capital of the old kingdom bearing its name inserted in the court of arms of Spain. This historical city had its foundation in the year 68 BC when the Romans build a fortified camp with the name of Legio. It is now a wealthy city with wide avenues blending with the half-timbered old city. Some of the Roman ramparts are still evident, but the chief treasures are the Basilica of San Isidoro are: its exquisite crypt, the adjoining Royal Pantheon (called the Sistine Chapel of Romanesque art), the Gothic Santa María Cathedral (called Pulchra Leonina) and the Monastery of San Marcos, former home of the Knights of Santiago.
León was the capital of Christian Spain in the eleventh and twelve centuries. For hundreds of years, it has been a major stop along the Way of St. James, which pilgrims followed to Santiago de Compostela. The Camino de Santiago goes over the nearby thirteenth century Orbigo Bridge. Our dinner and evening are in Leon. (B, D)

DAY 7: LEON / ASTORGA / O CEBREIRO / SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

We proceed towards Astorga, the capital of a small region called La Maragatería of ancient history dating back to the Roman period when it was called Asturca Augusta, being one of the stop-over points along the Way of Saint James. It once held over 25 buildings dedicated to hospitals and albergues (inns), one of them being the hospital de San Juan at the cathedral’s square. We will have time to enjoy walking through this charming town.
With the fervor which has inspired the centuries old pilgrims in their faithful Way of Saint James, we renew our journey towards Santiago de Compostela entering the beautiful green Galicia, stopping over at O Cebreiro, the Medieval (X-XII AD) town renown for its Eucharistic Miracle of Body and Blood where we will celebrate today’s Holy Mass. This afternoon we continue our pilgrimage on to Santiago de Compostela while we admire the charming Galician countryside. Dinner will be served at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 8: SANTIAGO: VISIT OF THE SHRINE

We will have our full day at Spain’s Patron Saint’s and the most famous of the Spanish Shrines. The name “Compostela” from the Latin “field of the star” was named after the tradition of St. James (Santiago), the Patron Saint of Spain. This city has been the third major site visited by Christian pilgrims and visitors (after Jerusalem and Rome) and is the present capital of Galicia.
We will delight in our walking tour on labyrinthine cobbled streets today of this medieval city, virtually intact since no man or natural upheavals have produced any damage to the city, a true national monument with its buildings built with the practically indestructible granite stone. We will visit the Plaza del Obradoiro and the great Cathedral that dominates the town. Its main entrance is two stories above the plaza. The statue of St. James smiles benignly down upon the faithful. The towers soar into the sky. The Portico de la Gloria, designed by Maestro Mateo and completed in 1188, is the finest example of Romanesque sculpture.

Inside the Cathedral are more priceless architecture, statues and religious treasures. Behind the silver and gold main altar are the sarcophagi of St. James and two of his disciples. A statue of St. James stands above surrounded by an elaborate display of drapery and sculpture. There will be time to browse through the quaint narrow streets and plazas, admiring such buildings as the Neoclassical Rajoy Palace, now the city hall,

the Romanesque Colegio de San Jeronimo, and the utterly stunning Parador de Los Reyes Católicos – all buildings which surround the other three sides of this magnificent plaza. We gather at a local restaurant for our farewell dinner. (B, D)

DAY 9: RETURN USA

Transfer to the Santiago airport for return flight to USA. (B)

NOTE: While no changes are anticipated, there might be occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons. All Masses are subject to final church schedules.