Discalced Carmelite Friars

Semi Province of St. Therese

Camino de Santiago

Santiago de Compostela Shrine

Fr. Provincial's Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela


On Friday, July 13–a day of good omen—our Fr. Provincial, Fr. Stephen Sanchez, OCD, left for Spain, with a few comrades, to begin the 500-mile trek from southern France, across the Pyrenees and northern Spain, to the the shrine at Santiago de Compostela. [See the photo on the left to get a sense of the worthiness of this destination.]

Fr. Stephen has agreed to send photos as he makes daily progress along the way of his pilgrimage. We’ll be posting them regularly on this site. Thus, you can follow him along the way. He will be praying for Carmel, especially our Province—the nuns, the friars, and the Seculars. We can pray for him.

A Pilgrim's Progress: Fr. Stephen Sanchez, OCD, on the Camino de Santiago – 2018

The entries below were written by Fr. Stephen Sanchez, OCD, and the photos with each entry were also taken by him. Using only a smartphone to type the entries and send them with photos to us, our Provincial has become a veritable prayer and road warrior!


We arrived at DFW around 4pm on Thur July 12th for a 7pm flight. Made it through security in spite of 'Peter's powder'.

Then we find out that our flight is delayed an hour - 8pm. Peter gets us into the Admiral's Club. Flight delayed further 9:40pm. Calling into question our connections in Heathrow and Madrid.

Flight further delayed - start changing reservations in order to make our Madrid Pamplona flight.

Flight finally takes off at 11:30pm - we arrive at Heathrow at 2:30pm.

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July 13th

Looking lost a British Airways agent took pity on us and re-arranged all of our previous flight plans so that we make it to Pamplona. We look for lunch - De rigueur we have fish-n-chips and then make our 5:30 flight to Madrid - Ron n I's backpacks get checked to Pamplona. Delayed in taking off due to heavy traffic. We land in Madrid at 9:30 n rush to make our Pamplona connection that leaves at 10:15. We make it to the gate by 10 and no one has boarded yet. We board and take off at 10:30 - it's going to be a 45 min flight. Landed at 11:19.

Fish-n-Chips – Heathrow
Fish-n-Chips – Heathrow

July 14th

We got in from dinner in Pamplona at 2am, slept for three hours. Got up at 5 to prepare to see the last day of the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Peter and I got to the Plaza de Toros by 6:30, Ron went to find a place to run.

As we walked there were several people very drunk - in all stages of drunkenness imaginable from the previous night - some partied till dawn.

The Running of the Bulls lasts about 3 minutes. All those participating - run into the ring ahead of the bulls - some get trampled on the way.

After the runners get in the Plaza the bulls are on their heels! They plow through the crowd and into the pens. The control bulls come after them - about 2 minutes - to the surprise of many of the new runners. They get to the pens.

Then they release heifers one after another into the pen with runners who try to jump over the heifers and some getting butted pretty solidly by the heifers. About 6 or 7 separate heifers.

Deacon Peter and I left around 9am - headed to hostel where we found Deacon Ron - who had run with the bulls - waiting for us.

We checked out and headed for the bus terminal to take our bus to Roncevalles France to begin our pilgrim walk the next morning.

We arrived around 2 - the albergue didn't open to 3 - we had lunch and then checked in. Rested for a bit - went out to dinner and turned--in and slept not only in a cacophony of snoring - 4 to a room in bunkbeds - but also the partying of the French celebrating Bastlle Day till 2am!!!

Pamplona at Midnight
Midnight in Pamplona
Midnight in Pamplona - 2
Midnight in Pamplona – 2
Plaza de Toros in Pamplona
Plaza de Toros in Pamplona
Plaza de Toros at 7 a.m.
Plaza de Toros at 7 a.m.

July 15th

At 8:30am we left St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France - 200 meters above sea level - towards our goal of Roncevalles, Spain - about 900 meters above sea-level - but we had to climb up and over the Lepoder peak which is at about 1,400 meters above sea level.

It was a very difficult climb - it's supposed to be the most difficult part of The Camino - that has been my experience so far.

There were some small consolations along the climb.

One was during a rest stop for me. I had to stop before my lungs burst. Sat on the side of road under some shade with Deacon Ron while Deacon Peter blazed on. While we rested, Ron asked 'Are my eyes seeing right' pointing to a very small white object nestled in a small groove at the base of the tree. It was a small white statue of Our Lady - when I get the pic it will be labeled O.L.of the Pyrenees.

After resting we moved on and before another act of mercy on my lungs - there was another small consolation - a beautiful black-and-yellow dragon fly that I noticed as I was gasping for breath. There were two other statues of Our Lady - one large 'grotto' to O. L. of Mount Carmel and another of O.L. of Roncesvalles.

We trailed on to Roncesvalles where we arrived at 7:30pm. We went the Church to visit the Blessed Sacrament and thank Our Lord for watching over us and Our Lady for her consolations along the way.

St-Jean-Pied-de-Port View
St-Jean-Pied-de-Port View
Pilgrim Passport - Camino de Santiago
Pilgrim Passport
Less than a third of the way up the Pyrenees
Less than a third of the way up the Pyrenees
Our Lady of the Pyrenees
Our Lady of the Pyrenees
Consolation along the way - a dragonfly
A third of the way up the Pyrenees
A third of the way up the Pyrenees
Pilgrims' shadows

July 16th

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel! Cold and rainy day at Roncesvalles.

After a short and restless night - our bodies were questioning our sanity.

Woke up at 6:30am - my feet were NOT happy! I was shuffling around like the 'old man character' that Tim Conway would do on the Carol Burnett show.

Breakfast at 7:30; packed and ready to go at 8:30 - donning our rain ponchos - we headed out for another 27 km day - down the Pyrenees. Oh, by the way, wearing a poncho is like a sauna - you don't get rained on but you're soaked in perspiration. Eventually I opted for the cool drizzle.

A difficult day - all sorts of terrain in the rain: Gravel, short stretches of asphalt, slippery wet shale, loose rocks, etc.

Lunch consisted of a Cliff Bar, water, a couple of almonds, and a couple of peanut butter stuffed pretzels - a glorious meal. As our Holy Mother says when you feast feast when you fast fast.
Whenever there was sun or an unexpected cool breeze, we praised the Lord.

We went through Burgete, up and through Espinal (about 950 m above sea-level). Down then up to Lintzoain, then down past Zubiri and to our albergue in Larrasoaña - quaint small village. How small? So small that a relative of the owner changed his young daughter's diaper on one of the dining room tables during our dinner. It takes a village.

We settled into the hostel for the evening - Advil, Tylenol plus an aspirin with throbbing feet and aching joints and awaited our next day down the mountain.

Bizkarreta Guerendiain
Alto de Erro
Alto de Erro
River Arre
River Arre