Leaving a stone at the cross

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by mammalama, Apr 7, 2010.

  1. mammalama

    mammalama New Member

    Would love to hear from anyone who has information or worthwhile links on the custom of leaving a stone at the cross. My understanding is that it represents leaving behind your burdons. I know there is someone out there who will have some info. Would also love to hear from any pilgrims who felt moved to participate in this custom.

    Am currently recording our preparation for the journey at Angels and Longshots my partner and I begin the Camino in June and are really excited about it. We would love you to pass on our link to others or to stop by and share your thoughts and comments.
  2. Tanya Yaksich

    Tanya Yaksich New Member

    Of old, pilgrims carried a rock the size of their sins and left it at the cross. This in part was their penance for their sins and leaving it at the cross absolved them.
    I have a `small rock i will be carrying`. I do beleive quite a few practising Christians do the same.
    Cheers Tanya
  3. HuskyNerd

    HuskyNerd Super Moderator

    Leaving a stone at the cross at Cruce de Ferro is a long tradition, and the size of the mound of stones is an indicator of the extent to which people follow it (i.e., it's a huge pile). Some leave things other than stones -- pieces of clothing, notes, toy cars, etc. Few seem to know how old the actual iron cross is there, but there are hints in the literature that the tradition is ancient.

    Some suggest (e.g. Tim Moore, Travels with My Donkey) that the Cruce de Ferro is the end of the Meseta portion of the Camino and that the introspection and reflection one does in that section of the walk has its culmination in the symbolic act of leaving a stone there. The act prepares the pilgrim for the final phase of the walk -- the joyful approach to Santiago.

    I wasn't aware of the tradition of bringing a stone from home, so when I learned of it between St. Jean and Roncesvalles, I quickly found a suitable stone (small out of fear for added weight, not due to a lack of sins needing forgiveness). I found Cruce de Ferro to be an oddly public place for a private moment of prayer (note the car park nearby and picnic tables), but I ignored the watchers and had my moment at the foot of the cross. Another pilgrim was there who had confessed some sins to me earlier (I'm a Methodist pastor), and he had left a stone there just before me. I had to wait a few moment until I had the cross to myself. Somehow it seemed odd to have my moment of reflection while someone else was there admiring the view. A bit of Camino etiquette might be to not hog the view but to go to the cross, have your prayer, and be conscious of other pilgrims who might be waiting for their solitary moment at the top of the pile of stones.

    If you approach the Camino from a religious or deeply spiritual perspective the Cruce de Ferro is a welcome part of your walk. Prepare to have your fellow peregrinos put off by your moment of prayer, though. Not many understand or sympathize with the idea of sin and forgiveness and to them this can seem a peculiar interlude in an otherwise pleasant hike in Northern Spain.

    Will look forward to seeing your website. If you're in Santiago on July 25 perhaps I'll see you!

    Buen camino ~
    Sandy Brown
  4. ctlou

    ctlou New Member

    Hi Sandy:
    Thank-you for your post, I found it very helpful.
    I am trying to locate the Cruce de Ferro in Brierley's guide.
    Could you give me a little more detail on how to locate it? Also, is it real obvious...such as...you can't miss it or is it something you need to keep an eye out for?
  5. HuskyNerd

    HuskyNerd Super Moderator

    Hi Louise,
    The Cruce de Ferro is after Leon and Astorga and before Molinaseca and Ponferrada. Unless you've somehow wandered off the Camino as you go through the Montanas de Leon you'd have a very hard time missing it. As I recall, Brierley recommends staying at Molinaseca. It in the daily stage in his guidebook that ends there.

    You'll be surprised at the number of crosses along the Camino. The shorter ones often end up with piles of stones on them, too. If you think of each stone as a prayer or a wish or a hope of some pilgrim you begin to sense a solidarity with those who've walked the camino over the centuries. It's humbling to find oneself amidst those prayers -- if one is sensitive and open to Spirit.

    Loved your website and will look forward to more entries as you make you way. Many blessings -

  6. Oak Hill Walkers

    Oak Hill Walkers New Member

    Brierley Map Number 24, just past Foncebadon and before Manjarin.
  7. Iassak

    Iassak New Member

    Hi there about leaving a stone at the Cross..well I met up with a guy from Germany who had brought a stone and it was the first I had heard about it. Being a rather non- superstitious individual myself I wasn't too impressed with it. But then it is all about if it makes you feel good. Personally seeing that massive Cross was more of an inspiration than about leaving a stone. Now that is me and being a practicing Christian the Cross meant more for me than leaving a stone. My walking companion brought stones for the purpose of bringing his specific family members to remember there. Nevertheless friends the important of it all on the Camino is to share, share and share with everyone...in whatever manner you can. I will be at L' Esprit du Chemin for two weeks from June 6-19 volunteering hope to see many of you be safe and look after each other on the way.
  8. Pavel

    Pavel New Member

    When I brought a stone from Radobýl, a hill near my home, to Cruz de Ferro (and another stone from the way somewhere near Santo Domingo de Calzada to that hill), my intention was to symbolically connect my home with the Camino and the cross on the top of Radobýl with Cruz de Ferro. I wasn't practicing Christian when I went to Santiago, so the penance idea was less important for me.
    When praying and leaving the stone at Cruz de Ferro, the mound was overcrowded, but somehow it didn't matter for me. There were just the two crosses, one in reality and one in my memory, me and God. Knock, and the door will be opened for you, carry your stone, pray and believe and Lord will give you a gap between two crowds of tourists, or the ability to pray undisturbed even in a crowd.
  9. Iassak

    Iassak New Member

    Rab, thanks for the feed back seems you are a bit annoyed at my feelings about the stone...dude whatever works for you great but doesn't do it for me I am a realist and have always had aversions to superstitions and that is why question it . If it enables you to connect with home that is what important.

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