Rioja is a fertile region of farms and vineyards, but it is also a crossroads for ancient civilizations and for modern pilgrims. Ancient Celtic peoples, some of the first inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, lived in these regions, and over time, the Roman, Visigoth, and Muslim civilizations also touched this place. Nowadays, it is a crossroads on the Camino Santiago, and you will see many pilgrims passing by you, honoring St. James, on their way to Santiago. Some of these pilgrims will be wearing a ‘scallop shell,’ the distinctive symbol of the pilgrimage to Santiago.
If you are passing through Rioja in hot weather as a pilgrim with a backpack, it is probably not so advisable to indulge in a too-heavy meal. But please be sure to treat yourself to at least some of the wonderful cuisine and wine of this region: after all, you will have ample exercise to burn away the calories during the many more miles you will walk to Manresa!
We leave this beautiful town descending towards the Laguna del Prao de la Paúl. We descend to the road and follow straight ahead along the dirt road that begins just in front of us. We head straight to the lagoon. When we get to it, we go around it taking the way to our right. At the end of the water, we take the dirt road away from the lagoon and toward the road. Our destination is the lagoon known as Carravalseca. We turn to the left and then right making a Z to reach the A-124 road and cross it. A few meters to our left, there is an asphalt road and a sign written «Bodegas Ubide» and «Laguna de Musco». We take that road which will continue over the next 3.3 km.
We pass on our right Ubide Wineries and we keep always straight ahead on our asphalt road, without taking any other deviation. Another asphalt road joins ours by our right, but we continue straight. A dirt road crosses ours. We always follow the runway that goes to Carravalseca Lagoon. We border it. At 500 m from the Lagoon we find a fork. We take the right (a house is on the road to the left, which we don’t take). At 1.5 km we reach another fork and this time we leave the asphalt and we take the dirt road to our right. From here we will always follow this road without taking any side way crossing or going out. Within 3 km we see the town of Labarca and we head for it.
We carry straight on our way, which is wide and well-defined, until we reach Lapuebla de Labarca. We go through the village until we reach the church which is near the River Ebro. We go down the road beside the river because we are going to cross over the bridge towards the industrial area of La Estación.
After the bridge, we continue straight on the LR-251 road which rises towards the train tunnel, but before we reach it we take a dirt road on our left that runs parallel to the train track for about 600 metres. We cross the tracks and continue straight. We are on the old road connecting Lapuebla with Fuenmayor. Once pilgrims had to cross the River Ebro by boat. Ignatius must have crossed the river and walked several times along this road that goes up the creek and runs right beside the old town of El Tormenal. At the first fork we turn right and then take the second left. We continue straight on. We reach Fuenmayor still walking on the same paved road, arriving at the main square and the church of Santa Maria.
We cross the town and find National Road-232 where it meets the road to Navarrete. Go straight on and after crossing the N-232, we turn left and try to find a dirt road close to us (it starts 150 metres from this point) that runs parallel to the Navarrete road, but avoids the traffic. We recognise it because it is beside a canal. We take it turning right and we follow it always straight ahead. A signpost says “Camino Viejo a Navarrete”.
We are walking with the canal on our left. When we reach the end, in front of us the AP-68 road forces us to turn to our right, to reach the asphalt road to Navarrete. We pass under the bridge and after 250 metres, we take a dirt road on the left that takes us close to the toll booths of the motorway. We pass the barriers on our left and we continue straight on the dirt road.
We pass a canal and at a fork, keep right. We continue straight ahead and go under a bridge which carries the A-12 overhead. We walk on, getting closer to Navarrete. Finally we reach this town, so closely linked to the experience of Ignatius.
Ayuntamiento . Tel: 941 450 014.
Hostal Labranza** . Avenida de la Estación, 1. Tel: 941 451 028
Pensión Fuenmayor . Avenida de la Ciudad de Cenicero, 7. Tel: 941 450 152
Pensión Úbeda . Calle Úbeda nº15, Tel: 663 77 96 29 (Special price for pilgrims 15 – 18 €)
LAPUEBLA DE LABARCA
Ayuntamiento . Tel: 945 607 051.
Casa Rural Barkero Etxea . (capacity 10 people) C/ Mayor, 25 Tel: 945 627 218
Casa Rural Kandela Etxea . Mari Cruz Saenz Diaz, 14 Telf: 669 217 711
A Posada Ignatius . Plaza del Arco, 4, tel: 941 124 094
Albergue Asociación Riojana de Amigos del Camino de Santiago . 941 260 234 / 941 239 201.
Albergue Buen Camino . C/ La Cruz, 2 Tel: 681 252 222 / 941 44 03 18
Albergue La Casa del Peregrino . C/ Las Huertas nº 3 Tel: 630 982 928
Albergue municipal . (40 beds). C/ de la Cruz s/n. Tel: 941 440 776
Albergue Pilgrim’s. C/ Abadía, 1 Tel: 941 44 15 50
Alberque Turístico El Cántaro . (capacity 12 people) C/ Herrerías, 16. Tel: 941 441 180.
City Hall . Tel: 941 440 005
Hostal Villa de Navarrete* . C/ la Cruz, 2. Tel: 941 440 318.
Hostel of the Association of Friends of the Santiago Way . 941 260 234 / 941 239 201.
Hotel Rey Sancho*** . Calle Mayor Alta 5, Tel: 941 441 378
Hotel San Camilo *** . Carretera de Fuenmayor 4, Tel: 941 441 111
Taxi . 656 684 950
This very easy stage brings us close to the River Ebro, which will be our traveling companion from now on and during many stages. This being a short stage, we can quietly enjoy the beauty of the towns and villages through which we pass.
LAPUEBLA DE LABARCA: With more than 850 people, this town was founded in the year 1369 and has its origin in the boat that used to cross the Ebro River to connect the two provinces on its banks, Navarre and Castile. The church of the Assumption of Our Lady (16th century) used to receive all the passage money from the ship on Sundays and feasts of the Virgin. The age of wine production in the area can be seen in the neighbourhood of Las Cuevas, where cellars dating from the 17th and 18th centuries are set into the hillock that rises west of the town. Here we can find restaurants, pharmacies, supermarkets and banks.
FUENMAYOR: It seems to have originated in a castle tower that could supervise the distribution of water for irrigation and the abundant spring from which the town derives its name, which means The Great Spring. In 1363, Fuenmayor was already a settled village which had its own church and a certain number of inhabitants. In that year, the monastery of Santa María la Real (the Royal) sold the village of Fuenmayor with its 27 neighbouring homesteads to Navarrete. In 1521, during the Battle of Pavia, Charles V defeated and captured the French king, Francis I. A certain Antonio de Leyva, the one who made the French king prisoner and a native of Fuenmayor, won new privileges for the town. It is good wine country, which is reflected in its monument to grapes, in front of the church of Santa Maria (16th century). The church tower was destroyed and rebuilt in 1981. We pass the Palace Fernandez Bazan (XVIII) with a wonderful coat of arms on its façade. Here we can find restaurants, pharmacies, supermarkets and banks.
NAVARRETE: A city famous for its pottery workshops and the scene of battles between Castile and Navarre. Built on a hill, the houses with their coats of arms show the importance of the town where the Dukes of Najera had a palace. King Alfonso VIII of Castile asked the villagers to gather around the fort to protect and defend its borders from the kingdom of Navarre. In 1482, the Catholic monarchs granted the noble title of Duke of Najera to the father of Duke Antonio Manrique de Lara (also viceroy of Navarre from 1515 to 1535), who knew Ignacio de Loyola very well. Ignacio, on his way to Montserrat, came to the Duke’s palace in Navarrete to settle an outstanding account with him. The parish church of the Assumption is built in stone with three vaulted naves. Its construction was begun in 1553 by Juan Vallejo and Hernando de Mimenza, and there were masons of the caliber of Juan Pérez de Solarte and Pedro de Aguilera who finished it in 1645. In the transept, we can see an altarpiece of Saint Francis Xavier, painted in 1720 by Brother Matias de Irala (from Madrid). In Navarrete we may meet pilgrims on the so- called “French Way” to St. James in Compostella. There is a wide choice of restaurants, pharmacies, supermarkets and banks here.
Notes: We continue considering the presence of evil in life, but now we look at the evil in our own lives. We try to become aware of our own faults. Ignatius advises us to keep a “gloomy day”, as an aid to discovering the sin in our lives and experiencing its reality. So we maintain that “sad mood” for meditation, to help us get better into this consideration of evil.
Grace: Having become aware of the purpose for which I was created and of the vocation to which God invites me, I beg Him for a deeply felt understanding of the sin in me and of the disordered tendencies in my life, so that I may feel shame and confusion, and turn to Him for healing and forgiveness.
Reflections: Yesterday we prayed for the grace of a deeper understanding of the reality of a sinful world. Today we take on another uncomfortable, awkward reality: My own sin. That we are sinners is true not only of reprobate criminals but each of us is a sinner, starting with the Pope down to whatever disgraced reprobate occupies this morning’s news. Each of us has habitual patterns of rebellion against God’s plan: what are mine? One psalm declares, “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” What about me? Are there ways in which I have habitually not listened to “those in need” who have crossed my path: the poor, elderly, unpopular, marginalized, etc.? Have there been ways in which I have used or abused other persons in order to satisfy my own need for attention, money, sex, approval, comfort?
Today we seek the grace of understanding our own sinfulness. Too often, our culture “anesthetizes” us from taking responsibility for our own false way of thinking and our wrongdoing. Aristotle once declared that the “unexamined life is not worth living.” We need to scrutinize our shortcomings and habitual failings: the pockets of darkness in our lives, the habits which have become “normal”. The ones which drag us down and hold us back from living in proper relationship with God, others and God’s world. We might pray to God for the courage to discover our blind spots, to confront ourselves and our sinfulness, in order to abhor it.
Be sure to talk to God and Jesus. To feel abandoned in our sin is exactly the opposite of the grace we seek for this day. Our sinfulness should not leave us wallowing in self-pity or depressed; rather, we pray for exactly the opposite grace—a sense of wonder and gratitude that I am a “sinner who is loved,” so loved by God that He gave His only begotten Son for me, so loved that, although He knows fully the extent of my sins, His love remains undimmed and His desire for partnership and friendship with me is utterly unchanged. Ignatius invites me to experience genuine shame for my sinfulness, coupled with great wonder that I am still here and alive: the wonder that I am a sinner but also loved and redeemed. I seek an inner healing, knowing that I am a sinner who is loved.
Luke 15:1-7. Jesus receives sinners and eats with them.
Luke 5:1-11. I say to Jesus: Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinner!
2Cor 12:8-10. When I am weak, then I am strong.
Final Colloquy: «Imagining Christ our Lord before me, hanging on a cross, speak to Him, asking Him how the Creator became man for me, and came from eternal life to temporal death, and so died for my sins. Likewise, looking at myself, ask what I have done for Christ, what I am doing for Christ, what I should do for Christ; and so, seeing Him like this, hanging on the cross, discuss what occurs to me. The dialogue is held as one friend speaks to another, or a servant to his Master; sometimes asking for some grace, sometimes blaming myself for some wrong, sometimes discussing my affairs and asking advice about them. Conclude by saying an Our Father. »
Ignatius wants to change his life. To accomplish this he decides to settle his accounts and put his affairs in order. And, even though he had no money on hand, the Duke Najera did not hesitate to show his affection for Ignatius by granting all he asked.
«Later, Ignatius remembered that an official in the Duke’s palace owed him some money, and so he prepared a written account for the Duke’s treasurer. Ignatius got his money and left word for it to be distributed to several persons to whom he felt indebted. He also devoted part of the money to restore a statute of the Blessed Virgin which was poorly attired. He then dismissed the two servants who had accompanied him, mounted his mule, and set forth alone from Navarrete for Monstserrat. From the day he left Navarrete he practiced daily penances.»
It is not money that matters to Ignatius, but rather practicing works of charity and assisting those who had some particular need. Thus restoring the image of our Lady seemed an important gesture. As Ignatius’ inner transformation takes place, he began to externalize this change in religious gestures. He did this in his practice of penance, scourging himself every night. No wonder then that we also do penance for our own past mistakes, as a preparation to better receive the gift of new life that God offers. Follow Ignatius in this process: perhaps we are also being invited to begin a new life.