February 16, 2004

Santo Domingo de la Calzada

At this point on the Camino you may be familiar with miracles. Many of, wonderful, and surprising things have already happened to you that you cannot attribute to anyone or anything. You are now ready to accept an astonishing miracle like the one of the Rooster and the Hen.

Enter the cathedral with all the due precautions when entering a sacred place. Go through its naves, look at the apse, the retablo by Forment, go near the saint’s shrine, and, from there, look at the famous chicken coop and the no less famous rooster and hen, direct descendents from those of the miracle. Use your imagination and remember the legend in full detail: faces, clothing, colors, the populace’s yelling, etc. The medieval world recreated in your head. A young man of eighteen years, Hugonell, on pilgrimage to Compostela, accompanying his parents. He is unjustly accused of stealing by a spiteful tavern maid and is promptly hanged. The grieving parents continued on to Compostela and, upon return, draw near to the gallows where they hear their son’s voice saying that he is still alive, that the saint (according to other, the apostle) is holding him up by supporting his feet. The parents run to the magistrate to tell him to which he replied disdainfully that the boy was as alive as the rooster and hen which, having been roasted, he was preparing to carve. But at that very moment the rooster and hen jumped up from the platter and began to walk around and crow jubilantly across the table of the incredulous magistrate.

A piece of the log from the gallows on the wall of the arch that leads to the apse and the rooster and hen permanently remind us of the miracle. Medieval fantasies always leave impressions that render our hearts restless even today.

Then, you go down to the saint’s remains and you ask him for eyes to contemplate the marvelous. As you pass, try to get some feathers that you can put on your hat as the most elegant token of the miracles God performs on you each day.

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