Just after crossing the River Cinca and departing the city of Fraga, we enter the “Comunidad Autónoma” of Catalunia, one of Spain’s seventeen “autonomous communities.”.
Catalonia will welcome us with open arms and with some helpful signposts along the way: the regional government has placed markers for the Camino Santiago throughout the province, and these markers will help us to keep our bearings as we continue our journey to Montserrat and Manresa.
Interior Templo Sagrada Familia
The Catalan nation has a glorious history and a rich culture, manifested in the vernacular language “Catalan,” which you will hear spoken throughout this region.
After you have finished your pilgrimage, you will surely want to visit Barcelona, very close to Manresa. There you will find a few spots visited by Ignatius, but you will also find many highlights of Catalan culture, including modern architectural masterpieces such as Gaudi’s magnificent Basilica of Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia.
We continue our journey through Catalonia, the “home stretch” of the Camino Ignaciano. This land offered generous shelter, assistance and friendship to the pilgrim Ignatius of Loyola, and we trust you will feel similarly well cared for during your journey here.
Our starting point on leaving Fraga is Spanish Square, where the Town Hall is situated. From Barron Segone Avenue, we take the steeply ascending road called Obradores Revolt (Workers’ Rebellion), which is on the left when facing the Town Hall. At the N-II, we take the white bridge as far as the cemetery and from there, continuing on the road running parallel to the N-II, our journey takes us climbing away from Fraga. We can also continue travelling parallel to the N-II on the right hand side of the road, without crossing over.
Whichever side of the road we travel along, we reach a sign “Campo de Tiro las Acacias” indicating an asphalt path bearing left. We can either continue to follow the N-II or take the asphalt road, depending on whether we prefer to avoid traffic or tired legs (the road circumvents the rather steep descent by means of an 80m tunnel).
Having continued alongside the N-II for two kilometres (always walking in the direction of the traffic) after a short tunnel, take the service road indicated by the road signs. (Be careful not to take the A2 highway.) On the bridge over the A2 are signs painted red and yellow, the colours of three national flags of this region: Aragon, Catalonia and Spain. We descend from the bridge and arriving at a roundabout, we turn left, to go through the A2 underpass. A sign says “Industrial Zone” and we head for it. We enter the industrial area and take the first road on the right. When we go to the end of the road, after a left and a right we come to a roundabout. This is where those who decided to walk along the “Campo de tiro las Acacias” would arrive. These pilgrims, having followed the orange arrows on the asphalt to the top of the track, would continue the route as it bends left, as far as the fork in the path. From this vantage point, the yellow poles from the gas company ENDESA GAS would be visible to the right and would lead the pilgrims to the industrial zone. On entering the estate, they would take the first road in front of them which runs parallel to the A2 on the right. In 2 kilometres they would come to the roundabout which is the meeting place of the two routes.
We enter the roundabout from the right and exit at the second asphalt path, signed “Service Road.” A STOP sign painted on the asphalt indicates the route we must take around the back of a hostel – restaurant. Once there, we approach the A2 service road which we take turning left. Two red STOP signs tell us, once again, that we are not going in the right direction: we are always going against the tide!
If you ride a bike, it can be not good to go against the way by a road without sidewalks. That is why there is a possibility of going backwards, just go for about 200 meters, crossing a bridge over the A-2 and getting the first turning on the left. If we follow that way for some Kilometers, always next to the A-2, we will end arriving at the vicinity of Soses and we will get back to the outline designed on the map.
We go under a bridge that crosses the A2, continuing straight ahead on the service road until we reach a roundabout. At this point we leave the Aragon region and we begin our walk through Catalonia. A signpost shows the way. From this point until we arrive to Montserrat, these signposts of the Generalitat of Catalonia will be of great help. We take the second asphalt path to our left, a narrow, steep climb. A half-hidden pool appears on our right and we continue up the road on the right, which runs alongside the pool.
Upon reaching the top, our track leads to another asphalt path that we take, bearing left but only for 100m, because once again we turn right onto a dirt track. The signposts clearly indicate the route. We turn to our right and then left, towards a high voltage transformer and a wooded area. We start a steep descent, continuing along a very winding road that bears right and left, until we reach an asphalt road which leads us to yet another roundabout back on the A2.
We do not enter the roundabout but continue straight on, heading for the nearby bridge to cross the A2. At the beginning of the bridge, we meet a signpost that reminds us that we are on the “Camí Real,” the road that Ignatius travelled on before his last experience at Manresa. Crossing the bridge and arriving at the roundabout, we turn to our left and go towards the A2, because we want to take the service road on our right that is parallel to the highway. In a few meters we pass the Hostel of Catalonia and Aragon and a CAMPSA gas station on the other side of the A2, on our left. We follow the service road and arriving at another bridge, we pass underneath.
Continuing along the service road, after a descent, we enter a large roundabout, taking the first exit on the right. We are now 448 kilometres along the N-II. We continue along the shoulder of the N-II which separates us from the A2 and leads us to some warehouses. At a roundabout, we pass near a modern, iron, sun-topped sculpture, as well as the CEMESA factory. At this point, 150 m from the CEMESA roundabout, there is a track on our right which we take. A signpost indicates the road to Lleida. The asphalt track turns to earth and we reach the road leading to Torres de Segre. We turn right and in 250 m we take the asphalt road to our left, which leads us to Alcarràs. The Catalan government signposts accurately point the way.
We continue along this road without deviating, despite its winding nature, arriving at Alcarras by way of Clamor Road.We follow the Clamor Travesia and cross the National II road. All straight on Jacint Verdaguer street and take the first right. We continue straight on Joan XXIII street until we reach the Dr. Castells street that we take to the right. Behind us is Alcarràs church. On Passeig del Riu, at the first junction we turn left onto the Avinguda Onze de Setembre.
Having reached the end of the Avinguda Onze de Setembre, a signpost points us towards the town of Butsénit. We take the asphalt path to the right and soon turn left onto the path that begins directly facing an agricultural building. We continue along this path without diversions, following the signposts. We take the path at right angles to our left. We follow this path that leads us back to the N-II. When we reach a tunnel, we do not go through it, turning right instead, and continuing parallel to the N-II. We pass a large shopping centre on our right and come to another roundabout. A signpost indicates an asphalt path on our right that may be taken
We always follow the asphalt road. At some point we find a signpost indicating a left turn onto a path towards a stream. We cross a narrow bridge and turn left towards a dairy farm. Near the farm gate, we take the path indicated on our right, arriving at some farm buildings. We are now approaching the village of Butsénit. As we reach the road into town, we turn right into the village. We pass a primary school before arriving at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption. We turn 90° right, to take a road that descends sharply beside the schoolyard.
The road leads directly to the River Segre. We follow the river, keeping it on our right. If the time is right, storks, ducks and swans won’t fail to keep their appointment with the walker! We follow the meandering river, passing under the railway line. Continuing straight ahead, walking parallel to the River Segre, we reach an asphalt road and turn right at the signpost. Finally, we reach the town of Lerida, the great capital. Keep walking along the River Segre, cross the bridge over the N-II and enter the town by the Avinguda Alcalde Areny.
Although not really visible since it is located on the ground floor of a building, the parish of Saint Ignatius, run by the Jesuits, is on our left, only 400m from the bridge we have just crossed. (Make enquiries after passing the “Gateway of the Marist Brothers.”)
We walked all straight on the avenue of Mayor Areny and we arrived at the Bus Station of Lleida. Turning to our left, we continue along the Avenida de Catalunya and turn right into Sant Antoni street. We continue straight on that street and we arrive at the Cathedral of Lleida, the Office of Tourism and the Town Hall of Lleida. End of the step.
City Hall . Tel: 973 790 004. Pilgrims’ hostel: call Elena from the cultural center, Tel: 973 795 700. The hostel is 2km from the town: there are no shops nearby. See: http://tiny.cc/pilgrimsshelter. Local police. Tel: 639 793 035.
Hotel Can Peixan . Av de Catalunya, 78 Tel: 973 791 012.
Hotel Restaurant Casa Miquel . At 2km from town towards highway A-2, Carretera Valmanya, Km. 2, Tel: 973 791 627.
Taxi Fraga 24h . Tel: 931 780 030
Taxi Romera SL . Tel: 974 471 673
Hotel Catalonia Transit*** . Tel: 973 230 008.
Hotel Goya . c/ Alcalde Costa 9 Tel: 973 266 788
Hotel Real Lleida*** . Avinguda de Blondel, 22. Tel: 973 271 031
Tele Radio Taxi Lleida . Tel: 973 203 050 / 680 203 050
Youth Hostel Sant Anastasi . Rambla d’Aragó, 11. Tel: 973 266 099 (Low season prices for accredited pilgrims)
ALCARRAS: A small village that has a restaurant, a supermarket, a pharmacy, a health centre and a bank. Town Hall Tel: 973 790 004.
BUTSENIT: Very close to the large city, Butsenit has a restaurant and supermarket.
LLEIDA: A big and beautiful Catalonian city, with unique buildings and museums. If you wish to make the most of your stay, you should contact the tourist office. (C / Major, 31 bis. Tel: 973 700 319). Of Iberian origins, the city, which was well known to the Romans who baptized Ilerda, spent four centuries under Muslim influence. It was conquered by Count Ramon Berenguer in the middle of the twelfth century. The building of the Romanesque cathedral of La Seu Vella dedicated to Santa Maria began in the thirteenth century, on the same site where a large mosque was located. The Romanesque church of Santa Maria de Gardeny and its tower are what remain of the monastery of the 12th century Knights Templar. Nearby are the ruins of the ancient walls that once surrounded the city, and also the walls of the Zuda, a ninth-century Arab fortress, rebuilt in the XIII century by the Catalan King, Jaime I. The Romanesque Town Hall in Plaza de la Paeria is from the thirteenth century. In the Plaza de la Catedral, you will find La Seu Nova or New Cathedral (XVIII century) and nearby is the Hospital of Santa Maria, a former convent with a stunning flamboyant Gothic interior courtyard from the fifteenth century. Also worth visiting is the Romanesque church of Sant Llorenç (XII-XIII centuries) and the 12th century Church of San Marti. Other highlights include the Main Casino (XIX century) and the Bishop’s Palace. The pilgrim will be particularly interested in the chapel on Main Street which recalls a legend about the Apostle James: while preaching the gospel on his journey through Spain, James got a thorn in the foot and walking became impossible. He was unable to see where the thorn was because it was very dark. Sensing his desperation, some angels come from heaven with their lanterns lit, to help him out of his difficulty. Every 24th July, Lleida children process through the streets of Old Town with lanterns lit in honour of James the apostle.
Jesuits in Lleida: Sant Ignatius’ Parish is located in the Plaça Espanya, 4 (Tel: 973 271 099). During opening hours (18.oo to 21.oo), spiritual guidance and spiritual care to pilgrims is provided as well as verification of credentials.
Notes: We now enter the final stage of our pilgrimage: the “fourth week” of the Spiritual Exercises. The mood shifts as we now enter into the contemplation of God’s life in all its fullness. We experience with Jesus and the disciples that the final door has been opened. There is nothing that can stop us now in our journey to freedom and eternal happiness in the Love of God. This final week is a time full of grace and light. We rejoice in each small flower, bird, smile, and extended hand. Remember the “introductory prayer” as you enter into prayer; use it as well throughout the day. Pay attention to the final colloquy: we draw closer into this interior knowledge of the risen Jesus who strengthens our commitment to life forever. We discuss this desire with our “friend” Jesus at the end of the prayer and as the day moves along.
Grace: I ask the Father for this gift: to enter fully into the joy of the risen and victorious Christ. To be able to grasp the fullness of life that Jesus has achieved for us. To rejoice deeply with Christ, with Mary, and all his disciples.
Reflections: Today and in the days to follow, Ignatius invites us to “ask for the grace to be glad and to rejoice intensely because of the great glory and joy of Christ our Lord” who is risen from the dead. No one could imagine what was going to happen, even though Isaiah the prophet had already announced that “My servant will prosper; he will be raised high and greatly exalted.” But the last days of Jesus were so hard to endure. His death was so incomprehensible that it was impossible to imagine how God was still present. Everyone was perplexed and demoralized. More than once throughout the Bible a barren, elderly woman found herself with child unbelievably, against all odds. Yes, Scripture writers remind us that “nothing is impossible with God.” Yet it was still hard to believe: even though the guards explained all the details to the chief priests and the elders, nobody accepted their story. But today we believe that the resurrection is the ultimate truth of God’s extraordinary power and goodness. God has the power to liberate us from death, every kind of death.
Sometimes our faith is all too weak. The God who transformed Jesus from death to life can surely transform us as well. Still we are often tempted to feel discouraged and even hopeless in the face of whatever problems, fears, sinfulness, or grief take hold of us. The risen Jesus is transformed forever; by this same fact, each of us is also transformed interiorly since we hold the seed of Resurrection within us. Jesus is alive and with us forever, even though we sometimes find it hard to believe it. The disciples going to Emmaus got that message. It is also the experience of Mary, the mother of Christ. She understood from the very beginning that Jesus was alive. As Ignatius tells us: she was certainly the first person to experience the His Resurrection. And from that moment she draws closer to the disciples, helping them overcome their own sadness and disappointment. Yes, the Risen Lord is with us as He promised, consoling us and offering His gifts, so that we in turn may console those suffering throughout the world.
When the women approached the empty tomb, unable to accept the possibility that Jesus had risen, the watchman simply says: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” The same is said to us: too often we cannot believe the good news about ourselves and our world. Once again Jesus confounds our expectations in so many ways! Today we recognize that the Risen Jesus does not show himself first to the apostles like Peter, Matthew or John, but rather to the women, the most courageous and faithful of all the disciples.
In this contemplation let us enter inside the scene personally and experience vividly Jesus’ resurrection from death. I listen, I observe, I speak, I entreat, I touch…I am actually inside the event. We pray for the resurrection of every death within us and among all those we love. Today Mary understands us very well!
Isaiah 52:13-53:12. “Who could have believed what we have heard?”
Matthew 28:1-15. “Do not be afraid; I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; he has been raised, [just as he promised.]”
Luke 24:13-35. Jesus, my companion all along this pilgrimage, explains to me how He has been part of my history and even my pre-history. Consoled in this way, I want to proclaim to others just as the Emmaus disciples did: “The Lord has been raised!”
Final Colloquy: At this point in our inner pilgrimage, we are already accustomed to walk with our friend and Lord Jesus Christ, speaking freely as one friend does to another. If in your heart you feel the strength and grace to do so, invite Jesus to accept you for service under His banner, joining at His side to build the Kingdom of God. Conclude with the “Our Father.”