Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage: Ponferrada/Cebreiro

Carolyn Smith and her daughter Meredith are currently on pilgrimage in Spain hiking the Camino. Meredith is blogging (check it out) their trip and I wanted to encourage you to pray for them and join them on pilgrimage. As they travel they will be sending notes and messages which the Q Continuum will be helping pass on by filling in some history. Let’s continue to cheer them on through Facebook and support them with our prayers.


The 1,000 year old pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is also known as the Way of St. James and in Spanish as the Camino de Santiago. Over 100,000 pilgrims travel to the city each year.

The Legend

Popular legend says that St. James traveled to the Iberian peninsula, preached the Gospel and rested in the Lord as a great missionary Apostle. Pope Leo XIII in the 1884 Bull of Pope Leo XIII Omnipotens Deus accepted the authenticity of the relics at Compostela. One tradition speaks of the authenticity of St. James’ relics which,

can be traced before the 12th century, the relics were said to have been discovered in 814 by Theodomir, bishop of Iria Flavia in the west of Galicia. Theodomir was guided to the spot by a star, the legend affirmed, drawing upon a familiar myth-element, hence “Compostela” was given an etymology as a corruption of Campus Stellae, “Field of Stars.” (Wikipedia)

Along the way, Carolyn and Meredith will be passing through many famous sites. On their first hiking day, they passed through Ponferrada near Cebreiro; both sites of Eucharistic miracles.


The following miracle explanation is provided in 2006 by Istituto San Clemente I Papa e Martire / Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association:

Juan De Benavente lived in Ponferrada with his wife. It was apparent that he was very devout and religious. In fact every evening he stopped in church to pray. One day, during his prayer time, he succumbed to greed and seized the tabernacle, a simple wooden container, in which there was a precious silver ciborium containing some consecrated Hosts. He fled from the church and headed towards the Sil River in order to pitch the cheap wooden tabernacle, but when he tried to launch it into the water he could not because of its sudden immense weight. So he returned home where he hid everything and said nothing to his wife. During the night continuous flashes of light came from the tabernacle, arousing the suspicion of his wife. So Juan decided to go out and dispose of his sacrilegious stolen goods. He reached a place the townspeople called the Arenal Field and threw the tabernacle and consecrated Hosts into the middle of the blackberry patch. The discovery of the crime brought dismay among all of the population and Juan became increasingly nervous and anxious, also because he did not know how to sell the silver ciborium without getting caught.

Near the Arenal Field, the owner of the land, Diego Nuñez de Losada, set up a target practice for entertainment during the feast days. During the time frame in which the sacred Hosts were still in the blackberry patch, eyewitnesses reported seeing flashes of light at night and strange doves hovering during the day. The crossbowmen tried in vain to hit the doves. The miller Nogaledo decided then to capture the doves with his own hands and ventured into the blackberry patch, discovering the tabernacle and the sacred Hosts from where the intense flashes of light originated. Disturbed, he went straight towards the church where the bells were ringing in the distance. The return of the sacred Hosts was organized with a solemn procession. Juan was overcome with remorse and decided to admit his guilt. In the place where the miraculous Hosts were recovered a chapel was immediately constructed. In 1570 the parish priest planned the expansion of the building and instituted a solemn annual procession on the eighth day of the Feast of Corpus Christi in memory of the miracle.

O’ Cebreiro

The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association also shares the miraculous story of O’ Cebreiro:

Chalice and Paton of the miracle

One icy winter in 1300 a Benedictine priest was celebrating the sacred Mass in a chapel beside the church of the convent of O’Cebreiro. On that miserable day of unceasing snow and unbearably freezing wind, he thought that no one would dare show up for Mass. He was wrong. A farmer from Barxamaior by the name of Juan Santín, left the convent to attend Mass. The priest saying Mass, who did not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament, despised in his heart the farmer’s sacrifice of good will. He began in this way to celebrate the Mass, and immediately after having  professed the words of the consecration, the Host changed to Flesh and the wine changed to Blood, and was expelled from the chalice and stained the corporal. At that very moment, it seemed that even the head of the wooden statue of the Madonna was leaning in adoration. The people today call her the “Madonna of the Sacred Miracle”. The Lord had wanted to open the eyes of the incredulous priest who had doubted and to compensate the farmer for his great devotion. For almost two hundred years the Host-changed-to-Flesh was left on the paten until Queen Isabella learned about the miracle when she passed through O’Cebreiro while on pilgrimage in Santiago de Compostela.

The queen immediately had a precious crystal shrine custom-made to hold the miraculous Host, the chalice and the paten, which to this day, can be admired in this church. Every year on the feast days of Corpus Christi, August 15th, and September 8th, the relics are taken in procession along with the Madonna. Among the most documented testimonials of the miracle are the bull of Pope Innocent VIII of 1487, that of Pope Alexander VII of 1496, and an account by Father Yepes.

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