Stage 27: Montserrat to Manresa

Up for Lauds at 7:30, a shorter and simpler service than last night’s Vespers, with one of my favourite psalms, 43 – I will go up to the altar of God, to the God of my joy.  But today’s route was more about going down than going up, with a difference of 490 metres between the highest and lowest points.

But first, a tour of the special places of the Basilica, and then one of the best breakfasts of the trip.  On the advice of a friendly young man at Reception, I then headed for the shop and bought a walking-stick for €6.20, which was a great deal of help on the steeper downward slopes.  Although I had a walking pole with me, I could not get it assembled properly.

Thus relaxed, I enjoyed the initial mountain path more than I had last night, and even responded to the pictures along the way by saying the Magnificat.  It was after St Cecilia’s Monastery that the really steep path began, and in spite of the stick I took it very slowly and arrived somewhat shakily at the track below.

There were two more steep stretches ahead: one on a tenth-century “Cami Ral” path, and one from St Catherine’s Tower to the old bridge at Manresa, the latter disfigured by concrete and ugly graffiti: “Stop Manresa 2022. We don’t want saints, we want houses” and “If this is the tourist season, are we allowed to shoot them?”

And so I arrived in Manresa, and had a quiet moment of prayer in the cave where Ignatius meditated before asking directions to the pilgrim welcome centre where I received my certificate, just before it closed at 6.

I checked in at the Albergue des Carmes, not a religious house any more but a youth hostel, and headed to the cathedral for Mass for the Vigil of All Saints.  The low attendance suggested there was something behind the graffiti about not wanting saints.  Afterwards I asked a woman where I could eat, and she showed me the way to a favourite and very inexpensive restaurant.

The next morning was November – cold and misty.  I walked round the historic centre and along another route with Ignatian connections before reaching for the Sanctuary for prayer, shopping and the 12 noon Mass.  Hymn books were provided, so I could sing a couple of Beatitudes in Catalan to the tune Picardy (“Let all mortal flesh keep silence”).

Then off to the station for the train to Barcelona and my last night in Spain.