We leave Tudela. We follow the Street Camino Caritat, to our left and head to the bridge over the railway lines. Next to the bridge there is a small path leading to the same bridge which enables us to cross the tracks. In these early morning hours we take the route of the sun, which is rising over the distant Mediterranean.
We cross the bridge, and just as we come down, we take a road to the right, which curves backward and leads to a power transformer station. Our route is wide and continues straight ahead, without difficulty. As we progress, we leave behind farms and small villages. Staying on the wide path, we reach the asphalt road, which we pass under by way of the bridge over the train line; it takes us the long way around. Once we have left that bridge, we come to a crossroads where we take the road to the right, which takes us close to the train lines. Afterabout one kilometre, a paved roadway appears. The train line, always on our right, accompanies us until we come close to the main door of the “El Carrizal” ranch.
Our route continues straight ahead; it is wide and without turnoffs. A little later, we come upon a road, which we take to our left. We then come near to the Canal Imperial, which we will follow as we go on. The road continues, with the waters of the canal on our left and the train line on our right.
We reach the bridge called “Formigales”. Right after crossing it, we take the road to the right, a wide path that leaves behind us the buildings of “El Bocal.” We continue walking, following the course of the water, which is always on our right. If up to this point you haven’t been using a hat, we recommend that you put one on now: there aren’t many trees in this part of the Camino! And we have 5 kilometres ahead of us.
On our right, we take the first bridge that crosses the canal. Leaving the canal behind, we enter Ribaforada. The same street by which we enter the town leads us directly to the train line, which goes through the centre of the town. When we come to the train line, we turn to our left, without crossing the tracks. A kindly traveling companion, the “iron road” will take us some 10 kilometres, until we reach Cortes. Always on our left, it will be our trusty guide. After about two kilometres, the road turns at a right angle and begins to separate from the rail line. There can be no mistake, because there is a large factory, and at a distance of about 200 meters a bridge can be seen. You can continue alongside the tracks until just after the bridge, and the road appears again, still parallel to the train lines.
After another two long kilometres, cyclists have to let the road take them almost one kilometre away from the railway line, until they see a very clear intersection to the right which takes them back to the same pilgrim’s road that we were walking along, near to the railroad. Pilgrims on foot take a different route: they can follow the road straight ahead which runs beside the railway line, although it does become a bit lost along this 200 metre stretch. At the end of this section, the dirt road that is always parallel with the railway reappears. Cyclists can, from this point, continue along the dirt road. We keep walking, with the rail tracks on our right. Finally, our route angles off away from the train line and take us further and further away from it, toward the first farms, which indicate we are in the vicinity of the town of Cortes. Our farm road continues straight until we come to a large roundabout, right at the entrance of Cortes. We turn to our right at that roundabout.
As we enter the town, we follow the main street, which turns slightly to the right, until we reach a narrow street appearing on our left and leading us to a castle and the church of St. John Baptist. We keep traveling along the same street, until it turns into another street toward the right. We should stay on the street of San Miguel and keep walking toward the train station. When we reach the tracks, the road goes under them, and so do we.
We stay on our road as it turns slightly to the right. We follow a long, straight stretch of paved highway, which leads us to a roundabout allowing us to pass under the N-232 road. We keep going straight, crossing a second roundabout without turning to either side. At this point we will be entering into Mallén.
When we reach a triangular plaza with a garden, we turn left and walk alongside the plaza. This street brings us to the plaza of the church of Our Lady of the Angels. We take Avenida Zaragoza and in 100 metres turn left down a street that descends towards the N-232. We cross it towards the Mallén industrial Park. We go straight down the street that goes through the industrial park and when we reach the end, we take the path on the right. In 50 metres, at the first fork, we take the dirt road to the left.
We go through the train tunnel and in 300 metres we arrive at the Imperial Water Channel. We take it to the right and cross the nearby bridge, following the water channel on its left margin until we reach Gallur. We have 7 kilometres to walk ahead of us.
Remaining beside the water, we enter Gallur, crossing the blue bridge over the Imperial Canal in the direction of the municipal pools. Right in front of us there is the train station and in the building next door is the pilgrims’ hostel and restaurant. The end of this stage is very close to the swimming pools.
Albergue de peregrinos . Pilgrims’ hostel (32 beds. Beside the train station). Tel: 876 611 479
City Hall . Las Moreras s/n Tel.: 976 864 073. Free admission to the municipal swimming pool for pilgrims carrying credentials.
Hostal El Colono . (special prices for pilgrims) 976 864 275.
Albergue Peregrinos . Paradero 3, Tel: 976 850 374 // 618 998 839
City Hall . Tel.: 976 850 005.
Hostal Pinocho . s/ Tudela, 4. Tel.: 976 850 225.
City Hall . : 948 864 005.
Taxi Aranguren . Tel: 948 821 199
Taxis de Tudela . Tel: 948 822 027
EL BOCAL: Since the Imperial Canal of Aragón begins here, the town is called “Bocal Real” or “royal wellspring.” The Imperial Canal was commissioned in 1528 by Emperor Carlos V and finished in the 18th century under the direction of Ramón de Pignatelli, who died after extending the canal past Zaragoza but without achieving his great goal of reaching the sea. Nearby is located the Palace of the Emperor, with the oldest oak of Navarre in its gardens. Also, after going through El Bocal, one reaches the Casa de las Compuertas (floodgate house), with a new damn built in 1790. “El Bocal” is well worth a visit because of its tranquillity and the beauty of its surroundings. The old dam and the Palace with its gardens are also interesting.
RIBAFORADA: Town of about 3,000 inhabitants. It was founded in 1157, during the reign of Sancho the Wise of Navarre, by the Knights Templar, so its earliest function was to protect the Christian pilgrims who were traveling on the Camino de Santiago. In 1313 the order of the Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem assumed responsibility for the town. Of special interest is the church of Saint Blas, built with brick and masonry in the 12th century, with modifications in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the same plaza the Templar shields are visible on the facades of the buildings. The chapel of Our Lady of Dehesa is also here. The town offers restaurants, pharmacies, health centre, supermarkets, and banks.
CORTES: In the centre of the town are found the castle and its tower, built in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 16th. The church of St. John the Baptist is Gothic-Renaissance style, with a Moorish tower. The town has 3,000 inhabitants and offers restaurants, pharmacies, a health centre, supermarkets, and banks.
MALLÉN: This town belongs to the Autonomous Community of Aragon. In reality, it was a “mark” on the road that connected Aragon and Navarre. It has Celtic origins, and the Romans situated the highway between Tarraco and Asturica here. The order of Hospitallers of St. John built the church of Our Lady of the Angels, in which three styles may be distinguished: Romanesque (12th c.), Gothic (13th c.), and late Baroque (18th c.). Until the 16th century, the town had a chapel dedicated to the Apostle St. James. It is a small town but offers a bicycle repair shop, restaurants, pharmacies, health centre, supermarkets, and banks.
GALLUR: Since Neolithic times there have been various settlements in this area, which grew with Roman occupation of the Ebro valley. The settlements were called pagus, and one of them gave its name to this little town. It was originally called pagus gallorum, the settlement of the Gals, since the original inhabitants were from Gallia. Later on there was a strong Muslim presence, but in 1119 troops from Aragon, under Alphonsus I, transformed the town into a Mozarabic locality, populated by Aragonese and Andalucians. The church of St. Peter, of Gallic-Roman origin, is located in the upper part of town. It is for the most part a neo-classical edifice (18th c.), with a tower built in the 20th century. An ancient castle, built by Alphonsus I (12th c.) was situated on the site where the church is now. It is worthwhile taking a walk across the iron bridge of the Ebro River, which here receives a tributary, the Barba River. With its more than 3,000 inhabitants, the town offers bicycle repair shop, restaurants, pharmacies, health centre, supermarkets, banks, and a tourism office.
Notes: Again we persist in making the introductory prayer. Today we make enter a consideration typical of the Spiritual Exercises: the meditation titled “The Two Standards.” Saint Ignatius offers us an exercise of contrast to see what our life is opting for, in our following of Jesus. Throughout the day we can be considering and asking the grace of this exercise and feel that Jesus wants us to go on pilgrimage with Him. The typical “Triple Discussion” that Saint Ignatius offers in the exercises, can be done as it is set out here… or done as your heart tells you, in accordance with the layout of the pilgrimage that we are engaged in.
Grace: As a friend of Jesus, I ask God to allow me to share the gift of being able to recognize the deceits of the devil so that I can guard against them; I also ask for a true knowledge of Jesus Christ, my true Leader and Lord, and the grace to imitate Him.
Reflection: Over the coming days we will reflect on Jesus’ earthly ministry, and on his way of living and working in accordance with the values of the Kingdom. Today we take a meditation commonly known as the “two standards” (standard as in a banner). We can imagine Jesus prepared to set out on his own journey, poised at a critical fork in the road. He has no doubt which way he is going, and he figuratively asks us to join him. Jesus’ values and Jesus’ “Way” is the way of simplicity (even of poverty), leading so many times to dishonor and to humility: in other words, it is the way of those who share their life with God and hope for everything from Him. The other way, is the worldly choice of riches, honor, and pride: in other words, to have the things and prestige that makes us feel important in the world, to turn ourselves into the gods of our own life, and be “the only ones in the world”. Earlier in this spiritual pilgrimage, Ignatius invited us to make a fundamental choice: to be faithful to our Principle and Foundation. This is not a new choice, a “do over,” rather, it is a reminder, a deeper insight into the Way of Jesus and to check our desire to follow Him, choosing a way that it is fundamentally different to the ways of the world. Who are we: are we our possessions and reputation? Or are we God’s beloved creation? Why are we important? Is it because others know us, or because God has chosen us? Jesus is inviting us to lighten our load so as to be able to walk beside him freely on our spiritual pilgrimage through life.
The purpose of this meditation is to become aware of the strategies of Jesus and of the Evil One so that I may accurately discern the spirits which I often experience when I have to make a decision in my life: In what direction am I going? Am I going with Jesus? As Ignatius says: “We shall in our next exercise observe the intention of Christ our Lord and, in contrast, that of the Evil One, the enemy of human nature… Imagine that the leader of all the enemies in that great plain of Babylon calling all his supporters… and sending them to tempt people to covet riches, so that they may more easily come to vain honor from the world, and finally to surging pride. And from there all the disasters in the world are guaranteed. Similarly, by contrast, gaze in imagination on the supreme and true leader, who is Christ our Lord summoning all His people… sending them to attract all persons, first, into the most perfect spiritual poverty, and also, if the Divine Majesty should be served and should wish to choose them for it, even to no less a degree of actual poverty; and second, by attracting them to a desire of reproaches and contempt, since from these humility results. And from there true humility will follow.” We should consider these two banners and make a choice from our heart: Shall I go with Jesus? Do I really feel that? Is that what I desire?
1 Tim 6: 6-10. Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
Galatians 5:16-25. I pray to know what it is like to be with and without the Spirit.
Ephesians 6:10-20. War of the spirit.
Final Triple Colloquy: «1st A discussion with Our Lady that she obtain for me from her son and Lord the grace, to be received under his banner, and first in spiritual poverty, and if His Divine Majesty would be served and He wishes to choose me and be received no less in actual poverty, and second, to spend more insults and slander in order to imitate him, only if that could happen without sin on the part of any person or displeasure of His Divine Majesty, and with it a Hail Mary.
2nd conversation: Ask the same of the Son, that he may obtain it from the Father, and with it say an Anima Christi.
3rd conversation. Ask the same of the Father, that he grant it to me, and say an Our Father.»
[‘Anima Christi’ prayer. It is a prayer from around the 14th century. It is still widely used after receiving the body and blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. Certainly Saint Ignatius prayed with it very often and that’s why he wrote it in the Spiritual Exercices.]
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ’s side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever. Amen.