Bridge Iturgaiz
Puente de Iturgaiz

I rang a Bell, an Old Bell

San Esteban XIII

San Esteban XII in Zabaldika

Very early on Friday morning the trek began to Pamplona, the big city. Walking over the Rabies bridge made me wonder: how many people have walked their flocks to be healed over this bridge early in the morning? Even though legend said this action would heal the animals from rabies, perhaps a better name would have been the healing bridge. Then again, that could have been misunderstood. It also made me wonder: How many people are walking over this bridge as they are looking for healing; perhaps even to rid themselves of the Rabies in their lives?

Little did I know that one of the most meaningful experiences on the Camino waited for me. See, today’s trek included an option: a detour to Zabaldika, the home of San Esteban. San Esteban is a church standing watch and welcoming pilgrims since the 13th Century. To this day the RSCJ Sisters (Society of the Sacred Heart) still stand vigil at this sacred site.

The Icelandic Lady

There was a steep climb to reach Zabaldika. On my way up the narrow rocky path, I met a lady from Iceland. We started talking and she said, “I see you are from Canada?” “I am, how did you know?” She replied, “You are wearing MEC clothing and a friend of mine lives in Edmonton and we went to MEC.” I quickly learned that you spot a Canadian in one of three ways: 1) MEC clothing; 2) a Canadian Flag somewhere on the backpack; and 3) the Canadian Company of Pilgrim badge stitch to a backpack.

When we reached the Church the two of us took our backpacks off and reverently entered the chapel. There were pamphlet about the church in many different languages. The lady from Iceland was surprised to see one in Icelandic.

They even had a version of the Lord’s Prayer for Pilgrims, it goes like this:

Our Father who is on our way, may Your Breath come to us and watch over us pilgrims, Your will be done in the heat as it is in the cold, assist us in our weakness as we assist those who falter on the way, lead is not into heartbreak, and deliver us from all evil. Amen.

The Old Bell

Old Bell at San Esteban—1377

Dewey in front the bell at San Estaban, it has called pople to worship since 1377!

I will admit, I was a little weary and I only scanned the information given to us, I did read the prayer. After a respectable time, I stood up and handed the information paper back to the Sister and politely ask for the stamp. “What did you think about the bells?” she quizzed me. A blank stare greeted her as my eyes avoided her stare and before I knew that paper was back in my hands and I was told to read it.

On my second attempt, I went to the Sister and jokingly asked, “So, may I ring the bell?” “Yeah,” she said, “Just go up those stairs." Up the spiral stairs, step by step, and those stairs are narrow, and then two bells greeted me. I took the rope and “ding-ding.”

I rang a bell from the 13th Century. Imagine how many people over the years have heard the sound of the bells calling them. I was in heaven.

The Cathedral

Then it was on to the big city, Pamplona. After walking through small towns a big city was a nice change. I once again learned that very little happens between noon and 3 p.m. … soon this will become the norm for me. After I checked in, took a shower, and grabbed a bite I went in search of a SIM card. A Spanish SIM card and phone plan is much cheaper than using Canadian Overseas Cell Phone plans. For 20 Euros I got 5 GB of data and 200 min of calls.

After this adventure, which took a little longer than expected because it was siesta time, I went to visit the Cathedral – Catedral Santa María el Real. It was fascinating to see the architecture and many Stained Glass Windows. The Cathedral was build in the 15th Century and features Gothic style.

A thought or two

This particular day was probably one of the most memorable ones on the Camino. The highlight was the old bell at San Esteban. They very thought of the many people who heard the sound and was called to worship was (and still is) overwhelming. The fact that it was cast so may years ago and is still ringing is amazing. Just think about the many people who dedicated their time and talent so that others could experience the Almighty!


My journey on the Camino de Santiago started in September 2017. At the time I wrote blogged entries with pictures whenever I could. Now, three years later, it is time to revisit the journey; I am re-posting the entries with a few updates. Enjoy.

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