We have just wrapped up the first week of our Pilgrimage for World Youth Day. On Sunday the 23rd of July, a group of young adults from the Diocese of Lismore flew out of Brisbane and arrived in Dubai 14 hours later. We had a 2 hour layover before another 7 hour flight to Madrid, Spain. Continue to read below a more in depth recount of what this first week has looked like for us pilgrims.

On Monday we drove through Madrid on our way to our accommodation. We viewed the Place Espana, the grandiose Cibeles Fountain, Puerta del Sol, the Parliament and Royal Palace, along with the former residence of the Spanish Kings. We then checked into our accommodation and had the rest of the afternoon and night at leisure.

On Tuesday we had Mass at La Almudena before beginning a guided walking tour through the city of Madrid. See viewed the sites of the Plaza Mayor, San Miguel Markets, convent as Jeronimas del Corpus Christi, the Place de la Villa, Lujanes Tower and the Casa de la Villa. We were all fascinated by these sites and took the opportunity during our free time to continue to explore the sites of Madrid. Some went to see the Prado Museum, others strolled the street of Madrid soaking up the atmosphere.

On Wednesday we traveled to Toledo – one of Spain’s most charming and ancient cities. Here we saw the Cathedral of St Casilda and St Tome Church. These were both beautiful and full of so many powerful symbols. We took upon the opportunity during free time to continue to walk around Toledo, souvenir shopping and trying the local gelato and ice cream bar.

On Thursday we journeyed to Burgos, stopping in at Segovia and Caleruega along the way. In Segovia, we visited the Segovia Cathedral, which was the last Gothic Cathedral built in Spain. Another incredible site we visited and celebrated Mass at was at a convent where the remains of St John of the Cross are buried. Once in Caleruega we began another tour, seeing sites such as the Dominica Nuns Convent. In this convent we viewed the crypt where a well marks the spot that St Dominic was born. It is believed that if a women is infertile, if she drank the water from the well, she was able to fall pregnant.

On Friday we visited Burgos Cathedral which is considered one of the universal jewels in Gothic architecture. We saw the Castillo de Burgos (Castle) and explored its ruins. We made our way to Valladolid touring around the sites of Gothic San Pablo Church, San Pablo Plaza, and the Royal Palace before making our way to Avila – the town dedicated to St Teresa of Avila.

On Saturday we began the day by visiting the Convent of St Teresa and were able to view the spot that she was born. We continued on to Avila’s Cathedral and Church of San Juan Buatisa. Later in the afternoon we went to the Monastery of the Incarnation where we were able to view the relics of St Teresa – her heart and her arm. This was a very surreal moment. The remainder of the afternoon was left to explore Avila at our own leisure.

On Sunday, our last day and night in Spain, we traveled to Alba De Tormes, which is the town where St Teresa died. We made our way to Salamanca which is also known as the ‘Golden City’. We explored the Plaza Mayor, Casa de las Conchas, also known as the ‘House of Shells’, and the Cathedral Vieja.

This week has been a really fruitful and faith-filled week. We are feeling spiritually nourished and looking forward to the official week of the World Youth Day pilgrimage. Please continue to pray for us Lismore Diocese pilgrims. We look forward to updating you once we have commenced the World Youth Day events.

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