Day 21- Cirueña to Grañon

  • Distance today:                        8.4mi
  • Distance Camino 2017:     143.8 mi

We walked through farmland for a while after leaving Cirueña this morning at daybreak.

A mile or two later, we saw half a dozen vehicles parked just off the narrow dirt road. Doubting it was a ride/share program as traffic was minuscule in Cirueña yesterday, we were about to speculate on the occasion, when we heard several gun shots. A closer look revealed bird hunters, probably grouse or quail or dove, and their canine hunt mates. Everyone, hunters and dogs, seemed to be enjoying themselves on a cool Saturday morning.

Shortly after, we sighted the next town, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, which has always been linked to The Pilgrimage of St. James. 

Its founder, Domingo García, was born in Viloria de Rioja (Burgos) in 1019. He decided to devote his life to God and tried to enter the monasteries of San Millán and Valvanera but was not accepted.

Around the year 1040 he became a hermit in the forests which occupied the site on which this city now stands. From his home he was able to see how difficult the pilgrimage was for those undertaking it and he began to work to help them by building a bridge to cross the Oja River, a hospital where pilgrims could seek refuge, roads connecting Nájera and Redecilla del Camino (Burgos) and a little church.

Domingo received approval from King Alfonso VI de Castilla who provided the piece of land where Domingo built the first church completed in 1106, but which sadly no longer exists.

When Domingo died, on 12th May 1109, he was buried in a sepulcher he had designed and prepared for himself in the middle of the road he himself had built for the pilgrims.

When the Cathedral was begun in 1158, it was built around Santo Domingo’s tomb, becoming part of the south transept of the Cathedral. His followers maintained the little village which later took his name and they continued his work, creating a confraternity, that even today works to keep his memories, traditions and beliefs alive by working with pilgrims in the Hostel.

Santo Domingo performed 12 miracles during his life that led to his beatification.

Two of his best known miracles involves the Camino. Legend tells of a German Pilgrim called Hugonell who was walking to Santiago with his parents, when they decided to rest at an inn in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The owner of the inn´s daughter immediately fell in love with him; however her feelings were not reciprocated, so the girl, angered, placed a silver cup into his luggage and accused the boy of theft. Thieves at that time were punished by hanging, and this was the fate of Hugonell. His parents, saddened by his death continued the pilgrimage, and upon arriving in Santiago de Compostela, began their return journey to visit the grave of their dead son. When they arrived in Santo Domingo however, they found their son still hanging in the gallows but, miraculously alive. Hugonell, excited, said to them: “Santo Domingo brought me to back life, please go to the Mayor´s house and ask him to take me down”. Quickly, the parents arrived at the Mayor´s house and told him of the miracle. The incredulous Mayor, who was preparing to have dinner with friends, responded: “That boy is as alive as these two roast chickens we are about to eat,” and suddenly, the chickens came to life, sprouted feathers and beaks and began to crow.

We had breakfast in a small bar adjacent to the Catherdral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada and then as pilgrims gained entrance to the Cathedral for 3€ each.

In front of the Mausoleum of Santo Domingo was a stone, polychrome and gothic Henhouse, which was built in the middle of the 15th century to keep alive a hen and a rooster in memory of the most famous of Santo Domingo´s miracles. There are documents from Pope Clemente VI dated 1350 allowing these live animals inside the cathedral. Below the cage is a representation of the pilgrim being hanged painted by Alonso Gallego. Above the cage there is a piece of wood from the gallows.

We were also impressed with the beauty of the tomb and statue of Santo Domingo and the simplicity of the altar and absence of an ornate retablo, positioned instead in the left transept of the Cathedral.

Four miles later we entered the village of Grañon (pop. 306) that was having, you guessed it, a fiesta. Shortly after we arrived, checked in and shopped for some groceries, it seemed the the entire population turned out to be entertained by an all drum band, free chorizo, bread and drinks.

We entered the church in Grañon which was empty as all the folks had already attended a noon service and were now engaged in the fiesta.

It’s a really special place, nice retablo as most Iglesia we have visited but this one has wooden floors, much like you would find in an old log cabin, which created a very warm and inviting feeling… a true sanctuary.

Other events followed, but as soon as the crowd cleared enough for us to make it to our room, which was once again, by chance, in the center of the festivities, we got back into our pilgrim afternoon routine.

We’re staying in the small casa rural called, “Mirabel”(50€), a habitacion doble con bano with access to a full kitchen and living area.

We took advantage of the facilities and prepared both lunch and dinner from items procured from two small grocery stores nearby.

Just before calling it day, we walked back to the town square and couldn’t believe the magnitude of the celebration of this village of just over 300 people.

Fiesta us a very big deal in Spain.

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