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O Cebreiro, Spain: Pilgrim Route of Santiago de Compostela & Site of a Eucharistic Miracle

About O Cebreiro, Spain:

You could certainly call O Cebreiro a step back in time. The winters are tough in this wind-swept area of northern Spain, where we assume the occupants of this quaint little town must have been tough as well.  The small thatch-roof houses, called pallozas, that make up the small village were simple, to say the least. Most were sunk in to the ground or against a hillside and had just two rooms: a main room and a bedroom for the parents. The pallozas were all on the upper level: the lower level housed the farm animals…and the heat from the animals, in addition to a fireplace, also helped warm the upstairs.

The village Church, Royal St. Mary’s Church (Santuario de Santa María Real do Cebreiro) founded in 836, is one of the most ancient in Spain and the oldest church on the entire French route of the Camino de Santiago.  As you might expect, the interior is quite simple. And as with the houses, the building is sunk in to the ground, in order to provide protection from the fierce winter.  Those who visit can have their pilgrims’ passport stamped to remember this special day. You’ll also find votive candles available for purchase.

What makes this church so important is that it was the site of a Eucharistic Miracle in 12th century.  A peasant from a nearby village braved a fierce winter snowstorm to come to this church for the Eucharist. The priest, who lost his belief in the Real Presence, ridiculed the man for braving such weather just to receive a piece of bread. scoffed at his devotion…..only to discover that the host and wine had physically turned into the body and blood of Christ, staining the linens beneath them.  Documents attesting to the miracle are the bull of Pope Innocent VIII of 1487, that of Pope Alexander VI of 1496, and an account by Father Yepes.   For almost two hundred years the miracle was just left on the paten.

In 1486, Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Monarchs, made the pilgrimage to Santiago in 1486. They became the first Spanish rulers in more than a century to make the pilgrimage to the apostolic tomb, since pilgrimages had dropped off over the ensuing years.  They also increased the protection of the pilgrims with the prosecution of bandits and establishing safe-conducts for the faithful who made the pilgrimage.

Queen Isabella learned about the miracle when she passed through O Cebreiro and immediately had a precious crystal shrine custom-made to hold the miraculous Host, the chalice and the paten, which are still on view in the church. Ferdinand and Isabella also supported the reconstruction of the church.


Every year on the feast days of Corpus Christi, August 15th, and September 8th, the relics are taken in procession along with the Madonna.


The French route to Santiago de Compostela:

O Cebreiro is part of the French Route of Santiago de Compostela.  By now, those walking the route are anxious to get to their destination, and have undoubtedly met many pilgrims of various faiths (or no faith at all) along the way.  A stop here will probably be their final one, and they will get their pilgrim “passports” stamped before traveling on.

Stopping along the way in O Cebreiro, Spain:

It is such a small town, you don’t really need the address of the church, but the phone number is +34 982-36-70-77


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