Today we leave the Camino de Santiago Francés and continue on the Camino de Santiago del Ebro, always “against the current.”
From the shelter of pilgrims at Rua Vieja 32, we head to the streets of San Francisco, behind the Hospital of La Rioja. We continue straight on the street of the Mother of God. After passing under the A-13, turn left and then right to cross the park and approach a bridge over the River Iregua. Having crossed the river, we turn left and follow the River Ebro which flows along on our left. We are in the neighbourhood of Varea.
Varea was the site of the old Roman port for boats which used the Ebro as a transport route. We walk straight along the paved road, with no deviation at all. We follow the GR-99 signs. As we reach an intersection with another paved road, we will see a cattle ranch on our left. We cross through the intersection by continuing straight ahead but shifting a few meters to the left.
We do not leave the paved road until reaching an obligatory curve by an irrigation canal. We will have passed a store on our left. We follow the GR-99 signs. We cross the canal without a problem and continue on the paved road which will take us near the train tracks in a short while, after going under a highway. We cross another tunnel under the highway and turn right. We reach the road which we take to our left, leaving the climb to the bridge behind us. Here we stop following the GR-99 signs.
We approach a military base: we continue on the road just 400 meters, and turn right to cross the train tracks on a level crossing in order to get onto N-232, which we will take to our left. Unfortunately, we cannot take any other route, and this national road is unpleasant. We have to walk approximately 2.6 kilometres, until we reach the bridge over the Leza River. We enter into the town of Recajo, walking along the N-232.
After crossing the bridge on the Leza River, we at last leave the national highway. Right after the bridge we take a paved road to our left, which leads away from the N-232. This road takes us under the train line. We continue straight along the same road until we come upon the chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows. Since we are going “against the flow,” the main door is not on the side along which we are walking, and the Saint James’ arrow reminds us that we always have the Camino de Santiago at our back. Again we find GR-99 signs.
We enter Agoncillo and walk along Calle de La Ermita. As we reach the centre of the town, we make a 90-degree turn to our left to find ourselves before the majestic Castillo de las Aguas, completely restored with a broad plaza which brings out all its beauty.
We pass by the church of Nuestra Señora la Blanca on our left, and we turn to the right onto a wide avenue behind the church. We continue in the same direction until reaching the end of the town, where we will find a trail, which we will take to our left. As it winds among farms and field, the trail twice crosses other roads at a right angle: we continue straight ahead at each crossing. About 3.5 kilometres after leaving Agoncillo, the road ends at another one. The town of Arrubal is just in front of us. We pass over the bridge and go up to the Church of Arrubal.
We walk through the town along Calvario Street. We leave the town on a paved track which runs parallel to an irrigation canal, which we can see at about 60 meters to our left. We follow the track, which bends to the right to take us to the train line. Later we pass some houses and a tunnel on our right, always traveling straight ahead.
The path continues parallel to the train line, which is to our right. We come near the Ebro River at one of its frequent bends, so that we are walking between the river on our left and the train line. Right at the point where the river seems to want to run into the train line, we find a bridge across the line and end up with the Ebro and the train line both on our left. Walking parallel to the line, we reach a paved track which bends rightward at a right angle, and after 100 meters we see above us the white Chapel of Aradón. We will almost certainly see the huge vultures that nest in the Peñas de Aradon cliffs.
At this point we descend to pass under the railway line. For a while we follow the GR-99 but after a well-drawn curve, when the GR signs go straight on, we continue walking along our road that keeps us close to the railway line. From this point, we will always travel with the railway on our right until we reach the Alcanadre train station, which is also a refuge for pilgrims.
Once in the station, near the first road up to the village, after some metres there is a fountain and going straight ahead, we come to the church.
City Hall. Tel.: 941 431 007
Hostal El Molino. Ctra de Zaragoza. Km 12. Tel.: 941 431 316.
Albergue Municipal de Peregrinos. CLOSED – IN WORKS. Calle Estación, in the same building as the train station. Town Hall Tel: 941 165 004. If everything fails, you can always take the train to Logroño or Calahorra, or you can insist at the Town Hall and obtain permission to use the sports centre.
Casa Rural. La Casa Azul, C/Trasera de Pilares, 29 Tel. 686 730 187 // 669 461 501
Hostal Cedipsa. Carretera de la Estación, 0. Tel: 948 693 183
Albergue de peregrinos. Pilgrims’ Refuge (accommodating 30 people) beside the church. Tel: 941 431 223
City Hall . Tel.: 941 431 103.
Taxi Logroño – Francisco Javier Saenz . Tel: 660 590 912
Taxi Logroño – Radio Taxi 24h . Tel: 941 505 050
AGONCILLO: Small town. Worthy of mention are the Castillo de Aguas Mansas (Gentle Waters), built of stone masonry in the 13th-14th centuries, and the church of Nuestra Señora la Blanca. At the main door of the castle can be seen the shield of the Cruz de Calatrava. The town offers restaurants, banks, stores, pharmacies.
ARRÚBAL: The church of El Salvador was built mostly in the 16th century and finished in the 17th. The town has restaurants, pharmacies, health centre, supermarkets, and banks.
ALCANADRE: Town of about 750 inhabitants. Its name is of Arabic origin: Al-Cana-Dre, referring to the “bridges” or “arches” of an old bridge over the Ebro River whose ruins are near the town. The church of Santa María (16-17 c.) preserves the Romanesque image which was in the chapel of Aradón (12c.) Typical of the town is the first-century Roman aqueduct. The town offers restaurants, pharmacies, supermarkets, banks, and a health centre. Before reaching the village, you can easily see the vultures nesting in Aradon. Some of them weigh 8 kg and measure 2.5 metres.
Notes: Today we begin the “second week” of the Spiritual Exercises. Our point of entry is through a meditation that invites us to follow Christ the King. We are walking through a big city, so we can see the wonders of a “worldly kingdom” and imagine the Kingdom of God. Today we meditate on how our life is oriented: are we walkingwith Jesus or are we following other leaders?
The grace we ask for: Despite my limitations, yet aware of the love of the Father for me, I ask for the grace to feel personally called to journey alongside Jesus as his companion and co-laborer.
Reflection: A deep awareness of God’s merciful love (yesterday’s grace), often leads to a desire to respond to that love. Today we begin to meditate on Jesus’ invitation to walk beside him in his work. In the Spiritual Exercises Ignatius places God’s call to work with him just after the meditations that touch on our own human sinfulness; the juxtaposition is important: God calls us to work close to him while he knows us fully yet loves us as we are. He calls as ‘loved sinners;’ just as St Paul tells us when he asked the Lord to help him the Lord replied, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So Paul said, “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor 12:9). So, despite being sinners, today we feel called to work in that same world touched by our sin, and work for peace and justice, with the support of the merciful love we have received. We believe in a God who is justice because He is love. The road to justice and the road to faith in our world are inseparable. In the Gospel, Faith and justice are undivided. We are deeply conscious of how often and how grievously we ourselves have sinned against the Gospel, yet it remains our ambition to proclaim it worthily: that is, in love, in poverty, and in humility. This is what the Jesuit General Congregation 32 said.
In his famous meditation “The Call of the King”, Ignatius imagines how compelling would be the call of a truly worthy king, working in our world just for faith and justice. After that consideration, we turn to Jesus, whose call is even more worthy still because Christ our Lord, the eternal King calls each person in particular and says: “My will is to bring together the best in the whole world and build the Kingdom of Eternal Love”. Ignatius sees that all those who wish to throw in their lot with Christ the King must labor with Him, so that following Him in pain they may also follow Him in the glory of his Kingdom.
The call of the King is the call to become his companion, to learn more about Him, to experience His loving care and to join Him in serving His people. And this King comes to us as one of us, all the more able to share our lot. Today we focus on the marvel of being called and on the nature of the call; tomorrow you can begin to focus on your response to this call.
Psalm 120. The Lord is kind and full of compassion.
Luke 5: 27-32. Follow me.
Micah 5:1-4. A mighty king will come to free his flock with the power of Yahweh.
Closing Colloquy: As a friend speaks to a friend, so we speak with Jesus. We bring together our thoughts and emotions from our meditation on the Kingdom and on the value of following Jesus. We discuss with Jesus and, if we so feel, we ask Him to invite us to walk with him.