Marian Journey Part Three

Our spiritual climb continued to Covadonga.


Sylvia and I making our way up to the caves with the backdrop of Santuario de Covadonda
Santuario de Covadonga, Mike, me, Sylvia and Florencio
Sylvia snd I at the steps of the caves


We had now entered into Asturias, a region of Northern Spain.  Driving  along the beautiful waters of the Cantabrian Sea, we made our way up to the Picos de Europa Mountain range. We were on our way to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Covadonga. How this beautiful basilica was built high on the mountains is a wonder because it is so grandiose and secluded. As we were walking toward the basilica, Florencio announced that his sister was married in this church.

There are two spiritual sites to visit here: the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Covadonga and the caves where our Lady appeared.


Our Lady of Covadonga as She appeared to Don Pelayo.
Me praying

The Battle of Covadonga

In order to truly appreciate the apparition of Our Lady of Covadonga I had to do a little research. In 722 an Asturian army achieved the first Christian victory over military forces of the Moors.  The Muslim Moors did not realize that they were coming against Catholic soldiers who not only understood the topography of their land but had God on their side. Despite the fact that the  Spanish soldiers were outnumbered at a ratio of a hundred to one, they asked for a sign from God.  Should they run or stay and fight? Don Pelayo, who was the commanding officer, took two sticks and formed a Cross, saying,”This will be our sign as it was for Constantine.”

As the battle was about to start Our Lady appeared to Don Pelayo in a cave without saying a word. When Pelayo turned to see the Moors approaching, he turned back to ask Her for help. She had disappeared but left behind a statue of Herself and the Christ Child dating back to the Early Church Fathers.

The Victory

The Catholic soldiers witnessed many supernatural miracles that day. The arrows that the Arabs were shooting at the Spanish soldiers who were taking cover behind stone cliffs ricocheted back to them and killed them. This was followed by a terrible rainstorm that caused mudslides and boulders to fall down on the Arabs. Many of their soldiers fell into the Deva River and drowned.

When the leaders of the Moors fell dead, disorder ensued. The Moors retreated and the victory of the Battle of Covadonga was won. Pelayo was proclaimed King of Asturia and King Alfonso I commanded that a monastery and chapel be built to honor Our Lady of Covadonga.


I finally have my Spanish shoes, Marshall’s online!

The Shoes

After this awe-inspiring and spiritual experience we had a wonderful meal. But I was on a mission to purchase a pair of sandals made in Spain. I have friends who love handbags and others that love clothing, but my thing has always been shoes. When I mentioned this to Sylvia, she made it her mission to help me find Spanish shoes.


Florencio warned us ahead of time that the people in Oviedo like to dress up. We were not surprised by this information because Sylvia, Florencio and Ernesto dressed in their Sunday’s best every day. They rarely wore sneakers and never jeans like us. You would never see a person in their pajama bottoms; they are too classy for that.


Cova and I in the Chapel of Santa Maria, Plaza de Alfonso II el Casto


Oviedo, Florencio Mike, me, Cova and Ernesto

Sylvia made a quick call to Cova, Florencio’s sister who lives in Oviedo. I was so excited because I was finally going to be able to purchase my Spanish shoes. As we parked the white wagon on the streets of the city, it seemed unusually quiet. Well, God had other ideas for us; the town was closed because of some local holiday, so all the beautiful retail stores were closed!

Cova, who was  named after Covadonga, was so gracious to take us on a walking tour of Oviedo. This small city is in pristine condition. There are no gypsies, asking us for alms.

The statue of Woody Allen


Woody Allen

Cova mentioned that Woody Allen and his daughter/wife own an apartment here. This is his get-away, where he comes to relax. The citizens of Oviedo love him. Part of the movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona, written and directed by Woody Allen, was filmed in Oviedo.

El Salvador Cathedral


El Camino de Santiago

San Salvador Cathedral

With the help of Cova, we found our second “concha” shell leading pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. Cova explained that the pilgrims must pass through this church on the way to “St. James.”  We did come across many pilgrims making their journey to Santiago de Compostela. They are greeted by the locals, who say, “Buen Camino,” which translates to, “Good travels.”

Our  tour of Oviedo ended at La Gran Tabrena, a local bar/restaurant owned by Cova’s daughter. Then we ate patatas and washed  them down with sidreras, an apple cider drink famous in this region.

Santiago de Compostela

On this trip we were blessed to attend unscheduled Masses. By no accident many times as we walked into the church a service was about to begin. This happened to us in a small sanctuary in Oviedo, where we were able to visit the small chapel of Santa Maria. Because this chapel is only opened to the public twice a year, this was a special, unexpected blessing. Now on to Santiago de Compostela.


At the tomb of St. James

Santiago de Compostela

I had visited this beautiful cathedral one other time. This time was especially memorable because before Mass was about to begin I was able to make a confession with an English-speaking priest. We waited in line to venerate at the tomb of the Apostle Saint James. The church filled up and we were almost at the last row but we had seats. As soon as the sound of the organ overflowed the room, my eyes filled with unexpected tears, as I prayed for special blessings for my family and friends.

Santiago de Compostela Florencio, Sylvia, Ernesto, me and Mike

Many pilgrims coming from different parts of Spain, Portugal and Southern France who had completed their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela made their way into the service. Their journey complete and their hearts filled with gratitude.

We should all experience this spiritual journey, making our way to the Lord, traversing through our spiritual battles to claim our victory.

My Prayer

Dear Lord, we are all on a journey to find You. May we make our way to You in fear and trembling. Meet us as we are poor, lost pilgrims searching for answers. With Your glorious Mother, we ask Her intercession as She leads us to Your Holy throne. Amen.


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