Pilgrimpace's Blog


lenten journey 15
March 24, 2013, 4:38 pm
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At the beginning of October a few years ago I sat in a Chapel in the Cathedral in Segovia before a rather fine reredos with a statue of St James the Pilgrim looking particularly exhausted and dazed, his tongue seeming to stick out a little with thirst and heat after a long days walk across the plains.  I was praying hard as I screwed up my courage to begin walking again after a few days sightseeing with friends.

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We enter Holy Week, another time that needs a lot of courage if we are to enter it deeply and, with Grace, to walk in the Way of Christ (and we remember today the martyrdom of Archbishop Romero 33 years ago).

On Friday we paused on the snow-covered and by now rather slippery tow path to admire these Victorian bottle kilns.

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Mark too this photo of me – I seem to have a manic look.  Had I tried the St James Potion from the chemists or had I been out walking in the cold for too long?

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When I asked the museum’s custodian whether there was a drug available to assist ailing walkers, she pulled in her grey cardigan and led me to a cabinet whose drawers were painted with the faces of saints.  She pointed to the tired, bearded image of St James, scallop shells on his hat, shoulder and staff: ‘That is the best for you,’ she said, pointing at the label: B JUNIP. LAUR. ‘Yes,’ she continued, ‘juniper and laurel.  It is for walking; for pilgrims like you.’

How many pilgrims suffering en route to Santiago had been tempted by St James potion, only to buckle into incontinent spasms?  Juniper’s diuretic properties and the poisonous effects of laurel seemed unlikely to benefit a man with several hundred kilometres to walk.

– Nicholas Crane

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2 Comments so far
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I wonder was that drug used “topically” to deter the lice/bed bugs, it is still used today as in aleepo soap, made from the laurel/bay tree.

Comment by unadara

Thanks – I hadn’t thought of that. Just as well no one tried to give it to me, I’d have been swigging from the bottle!

Comment by pilgrimpace




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