When Ignatius left Montserrat he had hoped to go to Barcelona to embark on a ship for the Holy Land. On his way he learned there was a plague in the city and the gates were closed to travellers - so he went to Manresa instead. This was the place which became a real school of his spiritual growth.
Walking down the steep path from Montserrat was much easier than going up! Eventually the path levelled out and took us through woods at the bottom of a long valley.
At a place called Castellgali we came across a sad monument to two nuns, Sr Regina and Sr Rosa, who were shot here, in July 1936, during the Spanish Civil War. We said a rosary as we continued along through fields and vineyards, until we reached what looked like an ancient fortified farmhouse. (To me it looked like the estate of Maximus in the film Gladiator). Nearby there was a Roman road marker - pointing towards Manresa. Ignatius would have seen this on his journey. He might also have noticed that soil along our path was full of seashells - a strange sight when you are quite a long way from the sea. We discovered later that these are the remains of an ocean which once covered this area millions of years ago.
Eventually Manresa came into view - a tall gothic church on a hill and an ancient, very high bridge over the River Cardener. We crossed over the bridge and visited the Jesuit centre which is built over the cave where Ignatius lived for eleven months and began writing his Spiritual Exercises. Its now been turned into a chapel with a baroque altar, but despite the decorations you can still see what a small space it was. Engraved in the stone wall were two small crosses said to have been carved by the saint. We had Mass there.
That day we walked 23 kilometres and were tired - but unlike the refugees fleeing war zones - we were booked into a comfortable hotel - the excellent family-run Hotel 1948.
Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, Hossein Zand, William Chambers and Jo Siedlecka were walking to raise funds for the work of Aid to the Church in Need with Christian refugees in camps in northern Iraq, and Jesuit Refugee Service projects in London.
If you'd like to give a donation please see: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Farm-Street-Camino-Walkers
See also: Walking in the steps of St Ignatius #3 - Montserrat www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=31082
Walking in the steps of St Ignatius #2 www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=31025
and Walking in the steps of St Ignatius #1 www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=31008