Monday, May 11, 2015

Iron Cross

After making our chocolate purchases and finding our way back to the cars, we hopped in for another short ride to Foncebadón where we would be hiking a short part of the actual Camino.  Until now, we had seen the insides of the integral cities along the Camino, but not actually traversed any part of the connecting paths between those cities.  This ~30 minute walk led to a monument called El Cruz de Ferro, or the Iron Cross.

The site of this cross is thought to have been the site of a monument to the Roman god Mercury where the Celts were thought to have worshiped.  The current monument, which consists of a telephone-pole-like pillar with a small iron cross at the top.  At the base is now a large pile of rocks and other items that pilgrims leave.  This current structure is believed to have been put here in the 11th century by Gaucelmo, a supposed hermit who built a hospital, hospice, and church for the pilgrims on the Camino.

Originally, it was a place where pilgrims left a rock in order to represent relieving the weight of their sins.  As has much of the rest of the Camino and its parts, this idea has been taken and shaped to each individual pilgrim.  This means that what people leave at the base of the Iron Cross might not necessarily be representative of their sins but of some other burden.  We saw letters, pictures, bracelets, shoes, socks, cigarette packages, and many other things.

We got to experience a small part of the camaraderie that comes along with being a pilgrim while we ate our picnic lunch in the grass near the cross.  A younger looking pilgrim was sitting near us, and we asked if he would like to join us.  "I won't say no!" was his response, and we had a great time sharing and learning about each other before wishing him ¡Buen Camino! and heading on our way.  He was a young man from France who had finished high school and started college before taking a break to walk the Camino.


I found an immense and overwhelming beauty at this site.  The Pilgirmage as a whole is something that looks the same on the outside for everyone partaking in it but can be incredibly different on the inside.  Everyone walks for a different reason; everyone has a different and personal purpose.  Here at the Iron Cross that could be seen and felt.  At the cross, those purposes are no longer being carried on the inside, but are laid out for others to see and to share.  One rock we passed on the trail leading to the Iron Cross simply said, "Never Walk Alone."  Seeing the number of rocks and items placed at the Iron Cross was proof to me that even though one may walk physically alone along The Camino, they never truly are. There are, have been, and will continue to be pilgrims sharing in the journey.



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