Based in Spain since 2006

León to the Iron Cross to Sarria

Day 2

Accommodations: Sarria (B, L, D)

Walking: 8 km / 5 mi

Well rested and having enjoyed a delicious breakfast we will head to the Cruz de Ferro, or the Iron Cross. The cross stands upon an enormous cairn dating back to times immemorial that marks the highest point on the French Camino in Spain. The pile is topped by a simple wooden pole and an iron cross.

Cruz de Ferro
The Cruz de Ferro

However, what makes thus cairn exceptional, as there are many others along the trail, is its sheer size and the fact that pilgrims continue to honour the tradition of leaving a stone here as they make their way west, serving as a testament to the countless pilgrims who have passed along the Camino de Santiago. Indeed, every so often, stones must be removed to keep the pile from blocking the road that passes nearby.

As for the stones themselves, they come in all sizes and shapes and you can easily spend some time here, reading and pondering over other pilgrims’ messages and testimonies. These stones or small tokens symbolize the burdens that pilgrims wish to shed along their journey. Be sure to bring a stone from home to add to the mound.

Stones at the Cruz de Ferro
Stones at the Cruz de Ferro

After finishing our walk and enjoying a spectacular Fresco Tours picnic we will make our way to Sarria across the Galician countryside. But first we will stop at O’Cebreiro, the first village in Galicia on the Camino de Santiago and home to the Camino’s most famous legend and/or miracle.

The Pallozas, or Celtic homes at O Cebreiro on the Camino de Santiago
Pallozas at O Cebreiro

Once upon a time a priest at O Cebreiro was about to celebrate Mass in an empty church . No one is attending Mass because there is a blizzard raging outside. Just when the priest is tempted to skip the Mass, a lonely person enters the church and the priest is forced to celebrate the Mass. He is clearly annoyed and when it comes to the moment of transubstantiation (when the ritual bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ) he has his mind elsewhere, only that the bread and wine this time really do become the body and blood of Christ.  Once he has overcome his shock, he thanks God for the lesson, his faith is restored twice fold and the body and wine (at least the chalice) remain at O Cebreiro as relics of the miracle. The statue of the Madonna and Child in the church apparently leaned forward to have a better look at the whole event at the moment of the miracle, as they are still doing now.

The Church of Santa María de O Cebreiro.
The Church of Santa María de O Cebreiro.
Elevation Profile for the Rabanal del Camino to the Iron Cross stage on the Camino de Santiago
Elevation Profile for the Rabanal del Camino to the Iron Cross stage on the Camino de Santiago

Sarria to Ferreiros