A group of walkers from Farm Street Church in London are on a ten-day 'Ignatian Camino' to Montserrat, to raise funds for Aid to the Church in Need projects in northern Iraq, and the Jesuit Refugee Service UK. They will be following the route that St Ignatius walked hundreds of years ago, from the Shrine of St Peter Claver in Verdù, across Catalunya to the Abbey of Montserrat and Manresa.
The sun was setting as we began our journey from the airport by coach out of Barcelona into the open countryside of Catalonia. As night fell we could get glimpses of the landscape as distant stormflashes were lighting up the night sky behind high hills.
After dinner we took a short stroll around the medieval streets of Cervera - a fascinating town - with an ancient Jewish quarter.
Our first stop the next day - and the start of our Camino - was the Shrine of St Peter Claver SJ in Verdu. St Peter worked with the slaves in Columbia for many years. The day was particularly significant, because in the Colombian city of Cartagena, President Juan Manuel Santos and the Marxist rebel leader Timochenko was signing the peace agreement that formally ended 52 years of fighting and killed a quarter of a million people.
The shrine is based on the site of the Claver family home and has a chapel, a museum and a hostel (refugeo) for pilgrims on the Ignatian Camino. We were welcomed by volunteer Veronica Pop, who is originally from Romania. A professional translator, she speaks very good English - as well as Catalonian and Spanish! She is married to a local man and has a five year-old daughter.
Veronica led us to the beginning of the path and we set off on our 16k walk to Cervera - on the 'Cami Ral' the route St Ignatius travelled on a donkey, on his way to Montserrat. A beautiful, rugged trail through farmland, ancient villages, accompanied by the sound of crickets - we passed a ruined church, a hermitage and an old castle.
As we walked along - it was pretty hot - I thought about the many thousands of refugees today from war zones who are undertaking perilous journeys, on foot, to reach safety in Europe - without our comfortable walking shoes, or hostels to stay in each night.
The final leg of our journey was up a long steep and winding hill. It was very good to arrive and drink some of the best lemonade ever!
More to follow.
For more pictures see: ICN's Facebook page.www.facebook.com/Independent-Catholic-News-ICN-195368037167900/?ref=bookmarks
Read Fr Dominic's blog here: http://farmstreetcamino.blogspot.co.uk/
To make a donation please visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Farm-Street-Camino-Walkers