By Jo Siedlecka
A small group of walkers, led by Fr Dominic Robinson SJ from Farm Street, have just completed a 10-day, 'Ignatian Camino' across Catalonia in north east Spain, to pray and raise funds for Aid to the Church in Need projects with Christian refugees in northern Iraq, and the Jesuit Refugee Service UK.
We followed the path St Ignatius took in the 16th century, starting at the Shrine of St Peter Claver, patron of slaves, in Verdu. From there we walked to the town of Iguelada, where Ignatius put on his pilgrim robe and staff, and on through the clouds to the mountainside Abbey of Montserrat, where Ignatius prayed for three days before the statue of the Black Madonna and left his sword. We attended Masses and lit candles for Aid to the Church in Need at the shrine. From here we walked to Manresa and Fr Dominic celebrated Mass with us in the cave where St Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises.
Covering about 20km a day, our route took us along busy motorways, through the streets of some beautiful medieval towns and villages, past ruined castles, dried out river beds, through farmland and forests full of the sound of crickets and the scent of wild thyme and rosemary, and up and down some very rugged mountain tracks. There were some spectacular views. Along the way we met many friendly people, including Veronica, a volunteer at Verdu, and Fr Francesco, Parish Priest at Iguelada.
The weather was hot, around 30ºC most days, and the walking quite strenuous, but it was just a taste of what it must be like for the many thousands of Syrian refugees, among them elderly people, women and children who are currently undertaking perilous journeys on foot, to escape the war. They don't have our comfortable walking shoes, hot showers, good meals and hotel beds to rest in.
To donate to our appeal please see: https://www.justgiving.com/
fundraising/Farm-Street-Camino-Walkers or send a cheque to: Refugee Camino Appeal, Farm Street Church, 114 Mount Street, London