Ghost Church/Living Monastery – October 27, 2017

Roxica to Sobrado – 9.4 Miles/23,165 Steps
(Total 329.8/764,816)

We ended our short day in Sobrado so we could spend some time in the monastery. One of the disappointments of the journey has been the number of closed churches. Our guide books would tell of 12th/13th/14th century churches on our route and most of the time they were closed.

Thanks to the Cistercian monks, Our Lady of Sobrado was open. Documents dating to 952 refer to a Benedictine Monastery on the site but by 1147 it was a recognized Cistercian monastery. There is a 12th century chapel that is part of the larger 17th century church.

In 1834 Spain closed all male monasteries and the buildings fell into disrepair with everything of value (including some stonework) removed. In the mid 20th century the Cistercians returned and started rebuilding. The three cloisters have been repaired and 20 monks now inhabit the place. We joined them for vespers in the evening and I was reminded of my visits to Holy Cross Monastery on the Hudson – except it was all in Spanish.

The church was a stone shell of what was once an ornate masterpiece. It was stripped of everything except the granite stonework which was magnificent although much of it was covered in moss/mold. On a warm afternoon the church had retained the morning chill in the dense stonework.

It was sad. The 400 year old stone shell could be so much more. I sat down to pray, quietly at first. Realizing I was alone I began to softly recite the prayers of the rosary and even barely speaking, my voice echoed off the hard walls. It seemed even the stone remembered the prayers that had been recited there for so many years.

The monks have abandoned the church for a small 1970s chapel off the second floor of one of the cloister. It was not as grand, but it was alive. I think that’s what the church should be. Alive and warm.

It was another day for us of being present to where we were. We thought the walk was too short (as we did yesterday) but when we got here we decided to stay. We got a room across the street from the monastery. The restaurant, pharmacy, bank and supermarcado were all within a block.

79°F Mostly Sunny
15813, Sobrado, Galicia, Spain