Pilgrims start arriving right at sunrise – probably before! We leave each day from Pamplona at 7:15 or thereabouts, arriving just a few minutes later to open the church and start working,
I’ve got the easiest job ever! I speak to passing pilgrims and welcome them to The Abbey, escorting them into the church and answering questions. This is not an albergue, we are not serving coffee, there is no priest, and Larrasoana is only about 2 km down the road.
What we do have here is a charming house that will become home to Neill and Cath as well as a refuge for passing pilgrims. The details still have to present themselves, but the basic idea is that this would be a key place to stay if you wanted to exchange a few hours working on The Abbey in exchange for a safe place to spend the night.
The church itself is is terrible repair but it has wonderful energy from the thousands of pilgrims who have stopped in over the centuries. The focus, now that nearly all of the decoration was been stripped out by looters, is a remarkable hand-painted fresco over what appears to be the original altar.
A single candle burns in memoriam to keep us company while we work. There is much work to be done on the roof and the walls, damaged over the years by persisent leaks. But the plan is truly grand and appropriate to such an important historical site – to make the space available to impromptu concerts or readings by pilgrim musicians and poets.
You can see how marvelous this church must have been when it was first consecrated.
The work continues!
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