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Reflections of Santiago

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We  walked in single file, upwards through a maze of trees, strung out  like pilgrims on the road to Santiago. Music whispered from the branches ,  light played on  ruins and, once inside up crumbling steps,  candles flickered in enclaves where young priests once dressed for mass, and a broken alter sprawled across the floor.

St Peter’s seminary is a modernist ruin; decaying slabs of  architecture daubed with graffiti and darkened by smoke. It’s only half a century old but its role as a college for priests lasted just 15 years before it was abandoned to weeds, the weather and fire raisers. And then, just a few days ago,  it reopened briefly to the public as an art installation.

I was carried along in the procession which halted at the centrepiece, an industrial-scale thurible swaying over water, trailing smoke in the semi-darkness. It was the work of my son and – for me at least – an echo of the day we walked together, four years ago, up the steps into Santiago Cathedral to gaze as the botafumero swung above our heads.

The entire work, involving many artists,  was called  Hinterland and the images it created have been haunting me. The battered copy of Brierley’s guidebook is back beside my bed, my pack is down from the attic and  it seems I’m setting off for a  stroll in Spain. Again.


4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Pat #

    Incredibly moving photos. Until I read your words I thought I was looking at an abandoned factory.

    March 31, 2016
    • Yes, a modernist ruin is an interesting concept and it was so atmospheric. A really special place.

      April 4, 2016
  2. Two things: I wonder why the college only lasted 15 years, and … can I come with you to Spain? 😉

    March 31, 2016
    • Religion went out of fashion! And sure, but you’ll have to hurry…

      March 31, 2016

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