Santa Marta de Tera – Chapter 71

 

A lightning storm, early in the morning, continued on and off all day.

We walk, in the rain, to 12th century Romanesque church at Santa Marta. This is a very special, sacred place — I must tell you about it and descuss what can happen.

I approach in a sacred manner. This church harbors the oldest image of the pilgrim Santiago — whose cathedral is the goal of our pilgrimage.

 

 

I approach the altar and turn to the left and look at a replica of the oldest image of Santiago, the Pilgrim (Saint James). He was thought to have come to Spain — and it is said his body is in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Inside the church are relics from extremely important saints — the Virgin Mary, Saint Peter, and Saint Paul (do you believe this?) There are also large bones of Saint Valeriano. Many fraudulent relics were available during medieval times and many miracles were attributed to them.

 

Valeriano was a young Armenian known for Christian sanctity and miracles. He healed the Emperor Leo’s son and was make an advisor (Leo ruled 457-474 AD). Leo asked him to lead a military campaign in Italy and he served courageously. He had the habit of praying/meditating alone in isolated places. An enemy commander learned of his habit and sent men to kill him. Even after his death, the miracles continued. Valeriano’s men defeated the enemy tyrant.

We visit the church museum which harbors many ancient things. People during medieval times found that their faith brought them benefits which today we would label as placebo effects.

Modern people do not hold the beliefs harbored by medieval people.

I read Chapter 71 of the Tao te Ching:

“Not-knowing is true knowledge.
Presuming to know is a disease.”
“First realize that you are sick;
then you can move toward health.”

Lao tsu does not advocate faith but prescribes a path to mental well-being – a path  I label the Inner Way.

We go outside behind the church to view the cemetery and the ancient image of Santiago, the Pilgrim.

Why do some people seek the Inner Way?

The images of St. James (Santiago) and St. Peter adorn the door.

Why do some believe while others are skeptical?

 

A tradition states that St. James journeyed to Spain, the first missionary to bring the Gospel. This image, from the 12th century, is the oldest portrayal of Santiago, the Pilgrim. It shows him with the pilgrim’s shell on his pouch. The tradition states that Santiago’s body was discovered in Spain as the result of a vision. This began the tradition of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

 

The outside cornice decorations show Madonna and Child –and the wise men —  highly weathered. Who would believe in this? How does belief come about?

Lao tsu states:

“The Master is her own physician.
She has healed herself of all knowing.
Thus she is truly whole.”

The Inner Way leads to healing — the letting go of all thoughts, beliefs, anger, fear, sadness.

A person’s traditions shape the perceptions and conclusions drawn from the inner journey. Most people feel no need to search inside themselves. Only those troubled by suffering engage in this quest. Lao tsu, Saint Valeriano, Saint James embarked on the Inner Way and discovered self-healing.

We return to the church. Allow me to show you something.

I meditate in this place. You can joint me. Belief is not required

Through the upper portal, at the spring and autumn equinoxes, at 8:00 AM, the sun’s rays shine onto the flared oculus of the left facade, onto a naked anthromorphic silhouette, carved in the limestone.

 

 

We continue our pilgrimage.

 

Remember the three treasures: simplicity, patience, compassion.

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