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One Adventure After Another!

Monday, November 16, 2015


Photo from internet
One of the stops 
that every well-educated pilgrim 
makes along the Camino is at 
the Monastery of Irache, 
with its fountain of wine, 
just past Estella. 

The Benedictine Monastery 
was first documented in 958 
and the first pilgrim hospice in Navara 
was built here in 1052 
by King Garcia del de Nájera.  

During the years 10-56-1098, 
San Veremundo was the Abbot here, 
after being chosen to succeed his uncle.  

Veremundo built Irache 
into one of the richest and strongest abbeys
 in Navarra. 

He was beloved by the poor, 
being very charitable.  
He would often take them food 
concealed under his habit.  
When his brothers reproached him, 
he would lift his habit 
and roses or wood chips would fall out 
instead of bread. 
The beggars would use the wood chips 
to warm themselves. 

It was also said that wine gushed 
from a fountain near Irache 
to serve the pilgrims.  

Once, a group of pilgrims 
were received by Veremundo. 
When he asked where they had come from, 
and what they had seen, 
they had no answer. 
They hadn't noticed anything.  
Veremundo was greatly disturbed 
by this indifference to the beauty of God's creation and with an exclamation from him, 
the pilgrims became windmills, 
sentenced to continuously rotate 
without getting anywhere 
and without a change of view! 

After his death,
Veremundo's remains were kept in a silver urn, 
which disappeared during the War of Independence.

You can see a nice statue of Veremundo 
outside the church in Villatuerta.
Joe and I attended Mass here one Sunday.
It was a lovely Mass and is recommended.

Statue of San Veremundo at Iglesia de la Asunción in Villatuerta
In the late 11th century, 
some Benadictine monks 
felt the Order had gone soft.
They began a period of reformation. 

In 1098, Robert of Champagne 
founded the first Cistercian abbey 
south of Dijon 
and the Cistercian order 
rapidly became the most potent monastic force 
in Europe. 

They began in great poverty but later 
went on to become very rich and powerful, 
owning entire villages, castles, and churches, accepting oaths of fealty 
and assuming the role of judgments. 
This corruption led to investigation 
and changes by the Mother Church.

Cistercian Monk Dormitory
The monastery entered a period of decline 
from the 13th to the 15th centuries.  

In 1522, another Benedictine community flourished.  A school was established and transferred 
to Irache in 1605, 
where it granted degrees in philosophy, canon, law, letters, medicine, and theology 
until the early 19th century.

During the Carlist Wars, Irache was a hospital. 
In 2000, it housed 
a community of Padres Esculapios.

The exterior of the building 
is pre-12th century Romanesque construction.  
There are many capitals and corbels 
cautioning against the excesses of sin. 
A Byzantine-style lantern tower 
is related to lantern towers 
in Salamanca, Toro, and Zamora. 
The northern Puerta de San Pedro 
(12th century) on the north side 
has fantastic animals, harpies, and a centaur.  

The western entrance is 13th century
 late Romanesque and is simple, 
with finely stylized floral capitals.

The church is laid out in the shape of a Latin cross with three semicircular apses. 
The sacristy is 16th century 
and the chapter house with its ribbed vault 
dates from the beginning of the 17th century.

For centuries, it was the home 
of the image of Our Lady of Iratxe (12th Century).
The statue now resides
in the church of Dicastillo, south of Ayegui.
Most famous is the Bodegas Irache fountain. 

Every pilgrim 
who does any homework on the Camino 
has heard of the fountain 
which gives water from one spout and wine from another.  

The purpose of the fountain
 is to satiate the thirst 
and also give cheer to the pilgrims.  

The fountain belongs 
to the Bodegas Irache Winery, 
which sits next to the Monastery.

The spigots are clearly marked Vino and Agua 
Joe filling his bottle 2006
It is customary for pilgrims 
to fill bottles with wine 
to carry on their journey, 
or to use their shell to take a drink from the fountain.

A great use for the shell.
(Please do not put your mouth on the spigot. 
Unbelievably, I've seen this done.)

Is the wine good?
Well... it's good enough to get you 
to your next stop!

Don't miss this important Pilgrim legend.
And don't forget your empty bottle!

Buen Camino!

2015 - Autumn

Inside the office of the Irache Monastery

* * *

Sorry these few postings are a bit out of order.
You will reach Estella before you reach Irache

Note:  Much of the information in these blogs comes from The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago by David Gitlitz and Linda Davidson. It is a wonderful book to have if you are interested in the history of the villages along the Camino.

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