Monday, 16 July 2012

Ascent to L'Ermita

By lunchtime today, I had a draft of my next Sunday sermon ready. Then I went shopping for some special food in preparation to welcome Clare, Eddie her brother, and sister in law Ann tomorrow evening. There'll be less time for this with the afternoon taken up by a trip to fetch them from the airport. Then I sat down to watch the end of the day's Tour de France stage, and once more, by the time it was over, I was ready to get out on my bike and take some exercise.

I wondered about finding my way to the railway station, but as I won't need to know where that is for a little while, I decided to find out how to get to L'Ermita, where the next united fifth Sunday chaplaincy service will be held. Using Dave's map, I rode out of town, past the cemetery, with its own 'Ermita' nearby L'Ermita de San Gregori.
Unusually it's a Byzantine looking church building with good parking, shade and benches in a large enclosure, all of which might be used on the occasion of a large funeral service followed by burial. The main railway line runs above it on an embankment. What is it about churches and railway lines that so often seems to find them close together? And not only in towns. There's plenty of open space out here.

I cycled west over the coastal plain through orange orchards in the direction of a steep escarpment rising over 500 feet above the plain. As the road began to wind steeply, I admitted defeat, and walked the bike up the last mile of road to the domain of L'Ermita - the sanctuary of our Lady of Mercies - at the highest point on the hillside. Below, on east facing slopes looking to the sea three miles away, a residential development has sprung up, of rather select individual houses by the looks of it, somewhat contradicting the idea of this summit as a place of sacred solitude. The sanctuary was founded in 1637 to house a relic of San Sebastian, third century martyr soldier, patron of the Basque city of that name. The church dates from 1754.
In front of the church is a spacious courtyard terrace shaded by trees overlooking the plain. The building to the right of the church entrance is a restaurant with interior accommodation and tables outdoors. It could cater for a couple of hundred altogether. Eating lunch here after the service in two weeks time promises to be a pleasure.
The view from above of the rich colours of agriculture on the coastal plain was well worth the labour of the climb. In the courtyard, a temporary stage has been set up for concerts. In town earlier I noticed fly posters advertising a session of Chi Gung by moonlight, with ambient music on Thursday evening here. Is this is offered by a group doing a public performance or is it an invitation to free for all I wonder?
The descent to the plain into a fresh breeze off the was quite refreshing, taken at a snails pace through several seriously steep bends. I was delighted with the response of my new bike, and home in a fraction of the time it took me to get up there. Definitely one of the 'must visit' places around here.

No comments:

Post a Comment