If you have ever gone for a walk through nature you will know that you must keep your focus if making a river crossing. Put your foot in the wrong place and you could stumble and fall in the river. Place your foot on an unsturdy rock and you are likely to get very wet. Yet the following story is one of a man who did focus and it was what he saw that actually caused him to stumble. He was walking through a river when he saw the image of the virgin mary and Jesus Christ. The shock caused him to fall in the water.
Yet the nature lover was not seeing a vision from God nor was he hallucinating. In his case Mary and Jesus were actually in the river. Of course it was not the real individuals, it was simply a statue. Fernando Brey, a local fisherman, had been hoping to catch some trout in a river in Northern Spain when walking through the river he stepped on a stone that was not circular, it was square. This caused some alarm but when he saw the image of Christ he really got a shock and fell into the water.
It turns out that the statue that lay in the water was 700 years old. Historians think it came from a nearby town that holds religious significance. The town is the final stop of the Camino De Santiago, a religious pilgrimage that spans 800 kilometres. It finishes at the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela where it is believed the final remains of the apostle St James are buried. It is possible that this statue is from the same church and therefore of incredible important to religious people.
The statue depicts the Virgin mary with the baby Jesus sitting on her lap. She is surrounded by two angels who hold up her gown behind her and her feet are adorned with flowers. The statue is so old that it is now covered in moss but is in good condition. The only issue is that the faces of both Mary and Jesus have been removed. This small fact takes the finding of the statue from a small interest piece to a investigation of sinister activities. How did the statue end up in a river? Why were the famous removed?
Experts say that the statue looks like it was once part of a building and may have been removed and (literally) defaced as an act against the church. This would be taking very seriously in such a religious part of Spain where thousands make the pilgrimage every year. The statue has been moved to the Museum of Pilgrimage and Santiago and is being investigated to find out where it once belonged, how it was removed and of course, why.
The statue dates from the Galacian Gothic period of the 14th century making it a truly beautiful piece. If it can be restored to a shade of its former glory it will be incredibly valuable. While the fisherman was only looking for trout on that day he is surely delighted with what he caught instead.
The Camino de Santiago is an incredibly important religious pilgrimage. 2019 was a record year as 347,548 people embarked on the journey, 20,000 more than in 2018. While 2020 was obviously a slower year due to the coronavirus it is clear that the journey is of critical and growing importance to many people. Restoring the statue to its correct place would be an important gesture and a nice touch for the thousands who make this journey every year.