After travelling all day from Fatima to a hotel close to Madrid airport we thought that Mass was out of the question. But God had a surprise for us. Our most resourceful seminarian just happened to know the dean of Madrid cathedral: and learned that in the months of July and August there is an 8pm Mass on weekdays. So off we went.
We approached the Cathedral by this side entrance, which is quite small compared with the rest of the Cathedral. While the need for this Cathedral in Madrid was known for centuries it has only comparatively recently been built. Taking 110 years to build, it was consecrated on 15 Jun 1993 by Pope St John Paul II.
The cathedral has one main nave, with two side naves; and three transepts off the main nave to give it the form of a Latin Cross. Our Mass was in the right-hand side nave dedicated to Our Lady of Almundena, or as we would call it, Our Lady of the Citadel. Under this title Mary, Mother of Jesus, is best known and loved by the Spanish people because the original statue has stories of miracles attached to it.
The Christians of 8th century Madrid had deep devotion to Mary, Mother of God, and when the area was invaded by the moors, this statue was hidden to prevent its destruction. It lay hidden for some 300 years before a Christian king came along and demanded it be found.
Although the secret location had been passed down from family to family, by the time this Christian king came on the scene the holder of the secret had just died without telling her young daughter where it was. After much prayer a miracle happened, part of the castle wall crumbled to reveal the statue.
The patterns in this roof are very colourful and look a lot like palm fronds to me.
Behind the priest with the white shirt is a reliquary box encased in glass. Inside the reliquary box are the remains of St Isidore the Farmer, patron of Madrid, who died on 15 May 1130. Although sometimes he is called St Isidore the Labourer.
He and his wife St Maria belong to that rare breed of married Saints. They had a son who died in his youth. Not that holiness is limited to consecrated life, nor to martyrs; and not that holiness in married life is uncommon; but it is a lot easier for religious orders to keep a cause for canonization going through several lifetimes of postulators.
What makes St Isidore the farmer so special? He put God and prayer first. He would go to Mass each morning before work. At least once when his fellow workers complained that he wasn’t working, they found him deep in prayer, and an angel ploughing the fields in his stead.
St Isidore is also known for his kindness towards animals, and for the hospitality of his home. Frequently St Isidore would bring hungry people home, and his holy wife always had a pot of stew on the fire waiting for them, and once when St Isidore brought home far more hungry people than usual God multiplied the food for them.
On the far left-hand side is the statue of St Isidore the Farmer, and on the far right-hand side is the statue of his wife St Maria.
The painted panel on the left-hand side is an icon of Pentecost. The painted panel on the right-hand side is an icon of the Baptism of Jesus.
The golden statue underneath the carved crucifixion scene is the 16th century copy of the original statue. From the book of Revelation are the details taken; a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars, whose son was to rule all the nations.
In the other painted panels around the Virgin of Almundena are scenes from the life of Jesus and the life of Mary.
This tomb belongs to Queen Maria of Spain, a.k.a. Mercedes of Orleans, 1860-1878. In her brief 6 months as Queen before her death she became a co-initiator of the building of this cathedral.
Because the cathedral is a short distance away from the royal palace, the cathedral is the Spanish equivalent of Westminster Abbey for major royal weddings and funerals.
On pilgrimage the meals we had to locate for ourselves became known as either adventure lunches or adventure dinners because we had no idea where we were going, nor any idea what kind of food we would find. Thankfully it was easier to find gelato.
What better way to end the evening than gelato? This time I chose two scoops of gelato, one Coconut and the other Bailey’s Coffee Flavour.
Since we had to be ready for breakfast at 5.30am the next morning, and a 6am departure for the airport, after the gelato we made our way back to the hotel.
#bbwyd #wydlisbon #wyd2023 #lisboa2023
11 Aug 2023, 12.30am Spain: 11 Aug 2023, 8.30am Sydney
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