The Benedictine Monastery in Sahagun has been sheltering Santiago pilgrims for a thousand years. In 2017, Marist Fathers stepped in to take on the hosting duties, offering a traditional communal dinner, pilgrim Mass, and low-cost shelter for any pilgrim in need.
But centuries-old convents are not noted for coziness. In winter, even indoors, you often can see your breath hanging in the air. Not a lot of pilgrims pass by this way in the dead of winter, and the ones who do are usually chilled to the bone on arrival. The welcome is very warm, the food is hot, the pilgrim blessings rich and fine. But the ceilings are high, the walls are stony. It’s cold in there.
The three missionary priests took over this place last March, and switched on the old gas boiler soon as they moved in. The heating bill for two weeks came to 1,000 Euro!
And now, with another Castilian winter bearing down, the fathers are getting ready. They’re installing insulation and heavy doors on one small corner of the convent, reducing down the sleeping space to 13 beds, a dining area, and a small chapel for the evening Mass and blessing. They’ve shopped around and consulted with the experts, and plan to install two pellet-burning stoves to warm the novitiate wing through the cold, lonesome days of winter as it comes in and goes out. (they return to the motherhouse mid-December to March.) Or as Fr. Daniel puts it himself:
“We have thought to keep 14 beds available for pilgrims, in 3 rooms… The municipal albergue is open the whole year, but last March pilgrims complaint that there was no heating... The amount money saved would be huge: the man of the heating said that we would spend in 6 months (with the heating 15 hours/day on) 800€, and we spent in half month last March 1000€. So, we could save up to 4000€ next winter (thinking that we'll be open until end of November or mid December and from beginning of March onwards), which it will be a similar quantity to the intial investment.”
Father Daniel Fernandez, the priest who heads up this initiative, is an old friend of Peaceable. He served in Carrion de los Condes and Terradillos as part of the Camino Chaplaincy program, and has walked the Camino de Santiago himself. Sahagun has for years been a less-than spiritual stopping place for pilgrims, and when Daniel saw the opening, the Marists joined with the Madres Benedictinas in Sahagun to fill the gap. We support their efforts, and always recommend Albergue Santa Cruz to pilgrims who plan to stop in Sahagun.
Peaceable Projects helps to fund just this kind of pilgrim-centered non-profit infrastructure improvement… and Peaceable Projects is YOU.
The fathers need 2,000 euro to buy the stoves, and at least that much more for the chimneys, installation, and enough pellets to last November through March. Peaceable has already committed 1,000 euro to this project, and we’d like to at least pay for the stoves… So if you are looking for a way to support the pilgrim path, to “give back” via a certified non-profit, make your donation now via Peaceable Projects Inc. Your donation is tax-deductible in some parts of the world.
If you live in Europe and would like to make a Euro donation direct to the Marist Fathers, please send a note and I will forward bank deposit information.