Saturday morning we spent our final time in Fatima with Mass in one of the small chapels connected to the basilica. After a quick breakfast, we boarded the bus and headed north.
We stopped in the town of Coimbra, Portugal. Coimbra was the original capitol of Portugal when they established themselves as independent from the rest of the Iberian Peninsula. After they moved the capitol to Lisbon, the town focused exclusively on their university, one of the oldest in Europe.
We got a nice driving tour of the city as we made our way up the mountainside to the 17th century convent of Santa Clara-a-Nova. Inside their beautiful chapel are the remains of St. Elizabeth of Portugal, a 14th century Portuguese queen who, after the death of her husband, moved in with the Poor Clares there, dedicating her life to serving the poor. The Portuguese have a great devotion to St. Elizabeth, and many miracles are attributed to her intercession. We were only there a short time, but it was time well spent in prayer.
After this, we made our way back down the mountain and across the Mondego river to continue our tour of Coimbra. We ultimately made our way to the Monastery of the Holy Cross, in which the relics of the first five Franciscan martyrs are located. These five franciscans went out to evangelize as missionaries and were martyred in Morocco. Upon their return to Portugal, a young Portuguese Augustinian religious was so moved by their witness that he left the Canons Regular and joined the Franciscans. We know him today as St. Anthony of Padua. Standing before the relics, we read the account of their martyrdom, and prayed for all missionaries.
After a quick lunch out in Coimbra (and a little gelato), we climbed back aboard the bus for the several hour drive north into Spain, to Santiago de Compostela. Santiago de Compostela is significant because inside the cathedral here are the remains of the apostle St. James the Greater. Santiago is the third biggest pilgrimage site in the history of the Church (after the Holy Land and Rome), and pilgrims have been walking the Camino de Santiago for centuries. I will write more about Santiago tomorrow.
We arrived in Santiago in the evening, but were still able to get into the Cathedral to pray a holy hour before they closed the doors for the night. We had a late dinner to finish off the day, because tomorrow we have an early start for our walking tour of this historic city and cathedral.
Unfortunately, the internet connection here does not seem fast enough for me to upload pictures. We have plenty of pictures from Fatima, Coimbra, and Santiago that we will post as soon as we have a better connection. Sorry for the inconvenience.