The Fourth International Pilgrimage Nuestra Señora de la Cristiandad in Spain

Outdoor Mass on day two of the pilgrimage

The Nuestra Señora de la Cristiandad (Our Lady of Christendom) is a lay-led organization that heads up a very prominent international pilgrimage of Traditional Catholics in northwestern Spain. The pilgrimage has risen to prominence - now in its fourth year - and is growing and attracting more and more young Catholics every year. This pilgrimage is the Spanish version of the annual Charters Pilgrimage in France, capturing that atmosphere of a medieval walking pilgrimage in an epic way. 

La Santa Cueva, the Holy Cave

This year it will be held July 27 - 29. The destination of the pilgrims is the Santuario de Covadonga, in the mountains of northern of Spain. The name translates to the "cave of the Lady" and here they visit a cave that is today a shrine. It has been called the spiritual lung of the Diocese of Oviedo. Pilgrims express their devotion to the Virgin of Covadonga and reverence this holy place and the nearby Basilica where the first battle of the Reconquista took place in 718, the location of the initial defeat of the Moors during their invasion of Spain. 

Outdoor Mass on day 2

The pilgrimage is a manifest event that signals a return to the traditions of the Faith. It attracts serious Catholic youth who journey from across Spain and beyond. Those who participate register with a "chapter" according to the region where they come from in Spain or according to their language group. The pilgrims walk 95 km while camping in tents 2 nights along the way. 

The Masses are beautiful with ancient and demanding music (it is impossible to be better) and the landscapes of the Asturias region are stunning. The pilgrimage begins with Mass at the imposing Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of the San Salvador in Oviedo, with its unique architectural array of design that includes a mighty steeple surrounded by a multiplicity of styles and influences. 

The cave chapel is the final destination

The pilgrimage ends with Mass in the Basílica de Santa María la Real de Covadonga (in English, the Basilica of Holy Mary, Queen of Covadonga), in Covadonga. This Neo-Romanesque gem was designed by a German architect in the late nineteenth century. The ambitious local Catholics raised a monumental sanctuary in a Neo-Medieval design made entirely of rose limestone. 

The imposting towers, symbolic of the entrance gate to a city, welcome and inspire the pilgrims as they arrive while plainchant and other ancient hymns of the Gregorian Rite soar through the vaulted ceiling. The cave is a few minutes walk from the Basilica, called the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Covadonga. On the site there is also a museum, a hotel, adequate parking, and a restaurant. 

The cave is an enchanting site, with a natural water source that flows underneath it and cascades down the rock in the form of a water fall into a stream below, carrying the fresh alpine water through the mountainous region. The sound of the rushing waters has a refreshing effect, like the sound of a Roman fountain. 

Altars set up for visiting clergy

Readers are encouraged to support this event and to help spread the word. This is a wonderful opportunity for young people to attend and be fortified in their faith during uncertain times. It also helps to inspire vocations and build marriages. Further, it enkindles renewed interest in the Faith and new bonds of friendship to last a lifetime.

These pilgrimages and the graces they foster are a unique witness and they represent part of the solution to the crisis in the Church. I call Spain the "garden of Our Lady" a nursery for militant Catholicism.  The Blessed Mother has special plans for this special land. The topsoil of Spain is rich with deep Catholic roots. 

For registration click HERE. 

The pilgrims walk 95 km in 3 days

Pilgrims at the conclusion at the Basilica of  Covadonga
Official logo of the event

The story of the cave begins with Pelayo, the leader of the Christians, and the man who is credited with initiating the Reconquista. Before the battle, according to local lore, he entered the cave while pursuing a criminal who had taken refuge inside. 

Clergy participants in front of the Basilica, with Roman and Spanish birettas

Bronze statue of Pelayo made in 1964

There Pelayo met a hermit who was venerating a statue of Our Lady that had been saved from the Muslim invasion and occupation. The hermit asked him to pardon the criminal and prophesied that one day he, too, would need to seek protection there.  

The cave of Covadonga

According to tradition, during the subsequent Battle of Covadonga, Pelayo and his men found shelter in the cave where the statue was kept hidden. The men prayed to Our Lady for victory, while making use of the natural defenses of the cave and its natural terrain. Pelayo credited Our Lady with the victory. 

The miraculous intervention aided them as Our Lady repelled the Moorish attacks against the Christians. The Moorish commander was slain in battle and his soldiers fled. The victory, considered a first for the Christians, established the independence of the Kingdom of Asturias. It took hundreds of years after this first battle for the Spaniards to liberate the Iberian Peninsula from the sword of Islam. 

The statue of Our Lady of  Covadonga

To give credit to Our Lady's intercession for the victory, the King of Spain, Alfonso I the Catholic (739-757) ordered a monastery and chapel to be build nearby in honor of Our Lady. Pilgrims flock here today in large numbers throughout the year. A Gothic Revival Basilica was consecrated in 1901 where the current statue is kept (dating from the sixteenth century). Pope John Paul II visited here on a visit to Spain.

The Basilica of Covadonga

The Basilica of Covadonga

Mass at Oviedo Cathedral

When pilgrims arrive at the cave they venerate the Blessed Mother under the title Our Lady of Covadonga, also called "La Santina." The statue is kept in the Basilica and the feast day is September 8. As the pilgrims walk they carry a replica statue. Sometime the statue is displayed in the cave. It was donated in 1778 by the Canons of the Cathedral after a fire in 1777 destroyed the previous statue.

Also inside the cave is the tomb of Pelayo as well as a little Neo-Romanesque church structure, built into the wall in the early 1940s after the Spanish Civil War. The antipendium of the altar depicts a representation of the Battle of Covadonga.  

Many volunteers contribute to this great pilgrimage. We thank the organizers, the volunteers, first-aid staff, cooks, security, drivers, clergy, and all others who work hard to make this wonderful pilgrimage a reality. 

And a special thanks to Mrs. Diana Catalán Vitas, the President of Nuestra Señora de la Cristiandad in Spain. God bless and reward you all -- you are part of history and something big that will continue to grow every year. Never give up. Fides vincit. 

The official poster year 4

The official poster year 3

The official poster year 2

The official poster year 1

Statue of Our Lady of  Covadonga carried by the pilgrims

Inside the cave with pilgrimage participant, our good friend Fr. Pablo

Group photo of participants

Participants pray at morning Mass

Oviedo Cathedral

Morning Mass for pilgrims and visiting clergy


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