A pilgrimage to Spain

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For his 25th anniversary as a priest, Father Patrick L. Posey, pastor of St. James Church in Falls Church, will make a pilgrimage to Spain this May. Accompanying him will be Father José E. Hoyos, director of the Spanish Apostolate, and many members of the parish. Father Posey hopes the trip will serve as a chance for both English-and Spanish-speaking parishioners to grow in holiness during the Year of Mercy. Here are a few of the spiritual highlights they plan to include in their trip:

Avila

The little town of Avila is notable for the medieval walls that encircle the city and saints who called the city home: Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, two great mystics of the church.

"As I approached my silver jubilee, I revisited a well-worn book of mine, St. Teresa of Avila's autobiography, and I thought I would like to visit the country of her birth," Father Posey said. "One of her sayings I most admire is, 'The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.'"

As part of their spiritual voyage, Father Posey and the group will visit the cathedral of Avila, the Basilica of San Vincente, the convent where St. Teresa first became a nun and the first discalced Carmelite monastery she founded - San Jose Convent.

Barcelona

The cosmopolitan Barcelona was home to the 1992 Summer Olympics grounds, one of the world's most famous soccer teams - FC Barcelona - and the renowned Catholic architect Antoni Gaudí. The church has named him a Servant of God, the first step toward beatification, in recognition of his humility, piety and the use of his talent for God.

While the gothic Cathedral of Barcelona is worth a visit, the real masterpiece is Gaudí's fantastical, nature-inspired Basilica of the Sagrada Família, featuring stained glass windows that create rainbows in the sanctuary and columns resembling tall stalks of celery. Though construction on the church began in the late 1800s, the building is still unfinished. Gaudí famously noted, "My client can wait."

Santiago de Compostela

This town in northern Spain is the presumed resting place of the apostle James and the final destination of the Camino de Santiago, a centuries-old walking pilgrimage. Father Posey will celebrate Mass there at the cathedral in honor of his priestly ordination.

The church is famous for its botafumeiro, an incensory that takes eight men to hoist as it swings throughout the cathedral at high speed. Pilgrims are encouraged to hug a statue of St. James, and to venerate his remains.

At the pilgrim museum, visitors can play a video game navigating a pilgrimage during the Middle Ages, watch a video documenting each step of the six main paths to Santiago and learn more about the Camino's history. To get a true taste of the town, try the Tarte de Santiago, a delicious almond cake or the traditional Galician pulpo - octopus.

Spain is full of Catholic treasures, like intricate Belenes, or Nativity scenes displayed in churches during Advent. Each Holy Week, the southern city of Seville has a huge gathering for the somber Semana Santa processions. Toledo contains El Greco's iconic religious paintings. Many Spaniards have a devotion to the spirituality of the native saint, St. Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei. The traditionally Catholic people have preserved centuries of faith history for pilgrims to discover.

For more information, visit here.

Di Mauro can be reached at zdimauro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016