Don't Believe Everything They Tell You
Excerpt: Priscillian 4th Century CE:
A small procession accompanied Delphidius' last journey. We walked the short distance to the grain field. The small green shoots were already well above the ground and the poppies grew all around the circumference. I had expected to see Priscillian and the other two bishops in their episcopal robes, but Salvianus and Instantius were dressed in simple togas, while Priscillian's robe was plainer still: a white linen tunic, unbound at the waist and with no fastenings that I could see. It looked to be made without seams. I had chosen a pale green silk - Delphidius' favourite. It was unadorned. Procula was in blue. The rest, I forget.
Marcellus the farmer was waiting for us. He too was dressed in a very simple white robe. Priscillian took the Urn from me.
"Your husband was the greatest of men; yet he has chosen the simplest of ends. His desire was to return to the earth of the place where he was born. To grow once more in his own fields."
We had formed a line at the edge of the newly burgeoning crops. The sun behind us had scattered its light into strata: aqua blue, apple green, the softest pinks and peaches. The birds ceased their singing. A sliver of orange rose on the horizon ahead. Priscillian and the farmer walked forwards into the field. We remained. Not a word was spoken by anyone. The sliver gradually turned into a fireball. Priscillian handed the urn to Marcellus, and then slipped out of his sandals. Then, to my astonishment, he pulled his robe over his head. He was naked. He took the urn once more and walked forward again. He raised it to the ascending moon. He seemed to be speaking but the words were lost to me, they seemed to be in another language - Greek perhaps - and besides, at that moment a small breeze came up and carried them away. He continued to walk forward, scattering my husband's ashes into his own fields. Covering the life of the green shoots with a layer of grey.
It took me then. The tears I had held back coursed down my cheeks. I felt a weight on my upper chest; a strangled cry ceased before it began. I thought I would choke.
Priscillian was on his knees. The moon framed him like a halo. I followed him to the ground and one by one, all sank to the earth. Priscillian's voice rose in a song: I knew it not. But the two bishops joined their voices and to my utmost incredulity, so did Marcellus, the farmer, and three others of my household, one, Claudia, a dairymaid from Marcellus' farm, his daughter whom I had known from birth when I had a acted as midwife. Donatus, Marcellus son, a young man but not unlettered thanks to my husband, raised his voice with them.
Then it was over. Salvianus and Instantius began to turn back, and we followed them. I glanced over my shoulder. Marcellus was bringing back the empty urn, but Priscillian, his robe still on the ground where it had fallen, was walking into the moon.
A religious injustice...
Two love stories: one doomed from the start...
And a mystery...perhaps
Excerpt: 2000 CE Aragon
"What do you mean: 'Not there'?" Miranda wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer. In fact she thought that by now she had heard quite enough.
"I suppose you believe in crop circles too?"
She stopped walking as if she had walked into a wall, as well it seemed she had. She stared at him with what Gothic novel writers might have called "barely-concealed loathing". She was in no mood to be patronised by anyone, especially by this man whom she had met only that morning, and he had talked her head off for the last three hours. Her feet were blistered and her poncho woefully inadequate to keep the incessant rain off her backpack. It wasn't that she didn't find what he had to say interesting. Far from it. He was clearly knowledgeable about a lot of things, most of which had never occurred to Miranda to question. It was just that she drifted in and out. She could just as easily have been walking alone. The route wasn't hard to follow - the yellow arrows were there for that. She had, in fact, resigned herself to solitude while preparing for this Pilgrimage: training as best anyone could in downtown Toronto for an 800 kilometer walk without heading up Yonge Street never to be heard of again. She had come a long way to do this, she had a long way to go, and she still didn't know why she was here. Now, sodden and more than a bit dispirited. The least he could do was keep quiet for a bit and let her feel sorry for herself in peace. Kieran walked a few paces beyond her, and then stopped and looked back, realising he was walking alone.
Looking at the indignation on her face, he at least had the good grace to realise he had gone too far, in more ways than one.
"Look. I'm sorry. It was only meant as a bit of a joke. It's a favourite topic of mine: the history of the Camino. I guess I can go on a bit."
His apology was genuine. He had been enjoying her company and had taken her interjections as some sort of interest.
Miranda still looked as if she would have liked him to have elected to throw himself off the mountain path they trod and left her to have figured it all out for herself.
The rain hadn't let up since they left the small Pension in Canfranc. It was not raining hard enough to take shelter, not that there was any. Just enough to get down necks, and sleeves. Just enough to soak tomorrow's underwear, buried in the depths of her backpack - and God knows there was little enough of that. Just enough to take any pleasure of walking. Enough to make you forget that there was a reason why you came here, no matter how insignificant and ill-placed it may seem now. Enough to necessitate placing your feet more carefully, avoiding looking at the scenery - which must have been stunning: but how to know? It was raining just enough for self-doubt, which came to Miranda easily enough. Just enough to make leather permeable, preparation insufficient, and cheap ponchos - purchased in a last minute budget-conscious fit at the bargain shop - of no use at all. Dangerously, just enough to feel like tears of self-pity, though even now, she knew it was much too early to wish she hadn't come.
"But I meant what I said." Kieran still showed no sign of backing down regardless of Miranda's expression of contempt as they resumed their walking. "There is no evidence whatsoever to connect St. James to the Camino, or to Compostela. The sad part is that although it is common knowledge in Galicia, and the Catholic Church is more than well aware of it, no-one wants to admit that the bones in Compostela are those of someone else. It's more than pride or dogma: it's big business, and in all honesty, it always has been. And it's not just that these are the remains of just anyone else. No, that's the irony. It's that the body - or what's left of it - in that beautiful silver casket, is that of a heretic. That's what the Romans called him, and that is what he is considered by the church in Rome, even today, over 1600 years later. He was the first Christian to be martyred by the Christians themselves."
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