This “film trailer” gives a quick impression of what the Ignatian Camino is about.
Fr John Fitzgerald, the Parish Priest of St Joseph’s Church, Warnambool in the Diocese of Ballarat, Victoria, was one of four Catholic priests who walked the Ignatian Camino in September. Shortly after his return to Australia, he was interviewed on ABC Radio on 15 October. You can listen to his interview by clicking here. You can also view some of his photos on the ABC website.
After breakfast the group took a bus across the city to visit Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica. The amazing façade of the building houses a modern interior full of light.
Antoni Gaudí was born on 25 June 1852 and died on 10 June 1926. Gaudí’s work reflects his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. Gaudí integrated ceramics, stained glass, wrought iron into his buildings. We are so pleased that we visited it. It was a fitting conclusion to our Ignatian Camino.
At 1.00pm a bus took us to Barcelona airport for our onward flight to Australia. We are nearly at the end of our amazing journey.
We have become a pilgrim community, and experience has been transformative in many ways. If you have the opportunity to make the Camino Ignaciano, I hope you take it.
In the morning we met as a group at 8.30am to evaluate the Ignatian Camino. Vin Dillon was our facilitator and helped us with a good process. After breakfast we had a talk from Josep Sugranyes SJ. We spent the rest of the morning exploring the Centre of Ignatian Spirituality.
Our credentials received the stamp for the final stage, and Helen picked up an “Ignaciano” for each of us, our official certificate of completion. We also purchased tee-shirts, calendars and other memorabilia. After spending the morning in Manresa, we took a bus to Barcelona.
In the late afternoon Josep Lluís Iriberri SJ. met us at the hotel in Barcelona and took us on a tour of the Ignatian sites in the city. Then he joined us for dinner and a review of the Ignatian Camino.
This excerpt from the Autobiography speaks to the significance of Ignatius’ sword:
He continued on his way to Montserrat, pondering in his mind, as was his wont, on the great things he would do for the love of God. And as he had formerly read the stories of Amadeus of Gaul and other such writers, who told how the Christian knights of the past were accustomed to spend the entire night, preceding the day on which they were to receive knighthood, on guard before an altar of the Blessed Virgin, he was filled with these chivalric fancies, and resolved to prepare himself for a noble knighthood by passing a night in vigil before an altar of Our Lady at Montserrat. He would observe all the formalities of this ceremony, neither sitting nor lying down, but alternately standing and kneeling, and there he would lay aside his worldly dignities to assume the arms of Christ.
When he arrived at Montserrat, he passed a long time in prayer, and with the consent of his confessor he made in writing a general confession of his sins. Three whole days were employed in this undertaking. He begged and obtained leave of his confessor to give up his horse, and to hang up his sword and his dagger in the church, near the altar of the Blessed Virgin. This confessor was the first to whom he unfolded his interior, and disclosed his resolution of devoting himself to a spiritual life. Never before had he manifested his purpose to anybody.
The eve of the Annunciation of Our Blessed Lady in the year 1522 was the time he chose to carry out the project he had formed. At nightfall, unobserved by any one, he approached a beggar, and taking off his own costly garments gave them to the beggar.
He then put on the pilgrim’s dress he had previously bought, and hastened to the church, where he threw himself on his knees before the altar of the Blessed Mother of God, and there, now kneeling, now standing, with staff in hand, he passed the entire night.
Over dinner we shared our experiences with Josep Lluís and made recommendations about ways in which the Ignatian Camino could be improved. One of the things he told us was that we were the first organised group of pilgrims to walk the entire way from Loyola to Manresa. We are honoured to have achieved this.
Today was our final stage of the Ignatian Camino, the descent from Montserrat to Manresa. Before we left we walked over to the Basilica and venerated the Black Madonna.
I anticipated that this would be an easy day, but it was difficult. The weather was hot — Larry Naismith said it was 34°C — and it was humid. It felt as though it was the hottest day we had walked in.
Today we were following in the footsteps of Ignatius of Loyola who we know walked from Montserrat to Manresa on March 25th, 1522. He lived in Manresa for the next eleven months. His favourite place to pray was the Cave; a natural grotto facing Montserrat and over which the Church, the Jesuit Residence and the Retreat House are built. His experiences there would bear fruit in his spiritual masterpiece, the Spiritual Exercises.
Michael Bertie told us at dinner this evening that, according to his GPS, we have walked 686 km since we left Loyola.
This evening I said Mass for the group in the cave where Ignatius composed his Spiritual Exercises. It was a great privilege.
Late in life, Ignatius dictated a short Autobiography. In it he summarized the depth of his experiences at Manresa, and in particular while he sat beside the River Cardoner:
He sat down for a little while with his face toward the river…While he was seated there, the eyes of his understanding began to be opened; not that he saw any vision, but he understood and learned many things…with so great an enlightenment that everything seemed new to him.” He added, “even if he gathered up all the various helps he may have had from God, he does not think he had got as much as at that one time.
Contemplation to attain the love of God
Today I suggested an “Ignatian repetition” — we repeated the same meditation as yesterday, but this time we focused on the time of pilgrimage. We reviewed the various stages of our journey and we thanked God for the experiences we have had and the blessings we received as we prepare to return to our everyday routine.
The grace. Today I ask the Father to give me an intimate knowledge of the many gifts I have received during this pilgrimage so that, filled with gratitude for all of these, I may love and serve the Divine Majesty in everything I undertake.
I also spoke to the group about the difficulties of re-entry after an experience like this.