Walking almost 700 kilometers from Lisbon, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, Spain in the summer of 2017 was a wonderful treat in itself, but there were several adventures yet to be had, even after arriving in Santiago.
I was reminded by my friend Valentina that there was a mysterious ‘shadow of a pilgrim’ that appears each night against the wall of the cathedral. I had read about this and had wanted to investigate, but had completely forgotten about it. So off we went like the Scooby Doo Gang to find this mysterious specter.
So we went looking for the mysterious shadow of the ghost pilgrim.
And we found him.
And he was PERFECT.
The fact that there is a very detailed shadow that looks so much like a pilgrim, at the site where pilgrims have been traveling to by foot from across Europe for over a thousand years, is quite amazing.
One romantic legend claims that the pilgrim shadow is that of a local priest from long ago, who had fallen in love with a nun of the convent of San Paio, across the plaza. They would regularly meet, secretly, traveling through a secret passage under the Quintana stairs that join the convent to the cathedral. The two lovers had planned to elope, and when that night for them to run away came, he arrived in the plaza to meet her, dressed as a pilgrim to conceal his identity. He waited in the shadows, but she never came. Since then, every night he returns, hoping to see her.
Another, less romantic legend, claims the shadow is the spirit of a French pilgrim who walked to Santiago de Compostela as a penance for poisoning his own father. While on the Camino de Santiago, in Navarra, he committed another terrible crime and he is still waiting for the souls of those he killed to arrive in Santiago to finally receive his pardon.
Either way, this is a fun novelty attraction for pilgrims that will walk Camino de Santiago from locations all across Europe, to reach Santiago de Compostela.
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