Priests from El Salvador and Uganda, in Pallerols

Dr. Constantino Anchel tells us about his last three-day stay in Pallerols

For some years now, I have attended the festival of the Trobada de la Rosa, in Pallerols. The trip was organized by Javier Guillem, Alfonso Arteaga and myself. They come from Valencia and I come from Pamplona. The three of us are high school classmates at the Colegio del Pilar in Valencia. Sometimes another colleague joins and I present myself with three priests from different countries, from those who are studying for a degree and a doctorate at the ecclesiastical faculties of the University of Navarra, in Pamplona.

For professional reasons, this year I was not able to be present at the Trobada de la Rosa, so we came a few days later. I was accompanied by three priests: Father Wilmer Morales, from the diocese of Zacatecoluca, in El Salvador, who is doing his thesis in Canon Law, Father Paul Nsubuga, from the diocese of Kampala, in Uganda, doing his doctorate in philosophy, and Father Charles Kabanda, from the diocese of Masaka, in Uganda, who specializes in Moral and Spiritual Theology.

We left Pamplona on Friday, November 30, at 1:00 p.m. and stopped for lunch at the Castle of Loarre to continue on to Peramola, where we arrived at 7:30 in the afternoon. In the inn the Masia, in Peramola, we could experience again the hospitality of Josep, who prepared us a good snack.

Then we went for a walk through the village. First we went to see the haystack where St Josemaria and his companions spent the night, when they arrived in this town. This allowed us to explain details of the expedition from Barcelona to Peramola. Then we took a brief walk through the Caner neighborhood, and then we entered the town, through its squares and alleys, which had a special charm with the light of the lampposts, and then we went to the Roser hermitage, where we prayed the Hail Mary in honor of the Virgin on the first day of the novena of the Immaculate Conception.

The expeditionaries from Valencia arrived shortly after we finished the walk through the village. They had left at four o’clock in the afternoon and arrived after nine o’clock in the evening. After the greetings and presentations, we went to dinner, where we prepared the plan for the next day.

On the 1st of December we had a catalan breakfast, with plenty of sausage, ‘pa amb tomaquet’, coca and coffee with milk. Then we leave for Pallerols, where we leave the cars. There was a brief explanation of St Josemaria’s march to this place. As they arrived in Cal Vilaró, they were welcomed at the hospitality of Pere Sala, and the next day they arrived in Pallerols, where the other members of the expedition gathered. The next day we would complete these days, adding more details.

From Pallerols we went up to the Cabin of San Rafael. While we were recovering from the effort, the veterans explained in detail what meaning this place has for the history of Opus Dei and St. Josemaría. At noon we prayed the Angelus and celebrated Mass, bringing forward the feast of St. Francis Xavier, to have a detail with Xavier, whose saint he would celebrate two days later, when we were no longer together. When we finished, we sang the Salve, on this second day of the novena, and began our way back, along the road that leads to the Balsa and Ca l’Ampurdanés. This helped us to tell that, while they were in the cabin, the people in charge came to this farmhouse to collect everyone’s food.

When we arrived in Peramola, we changed our clothes and left for Andorra, where we had planned to have lunch. Then there was a walk down the street that leads from Escaldes to Andorra la Vella, a path that St Josemaria made daily during the days of his stay in the Principality (See the endnote of the chronicle). We visited the historic places of Escaldes: the Palacín Hotel, the old school of Meritxell, the site of the school of the nuns of the Holy Family of Urgell, and the place where the parish of Escaldes was, all of them related to Saint Josemaría.

After our brief stay in the Principality, we returned to Peramola, where Josep was waiting for us, who had prepared a succulent dinner that delighted everyone. After dinner we made our plans for the next day. The initial objective was to celebrate Mass in La Ribalera, but since we didn’t have an all-terrain car to bring us to Santpou, we gave up for this time, and we exchanged it for celebrating Mass on the first Sunday of Advent in the parish church of Sant Esteve de Pallerols.

The next morning, December 2, after saying goodbye to Josep, we went to Pallerols, where we prepared everything to celebrate the Holy Mass with all solemnity. Then, in the same church, in situ, we explained the history of the rose: the night in the “oven,” St Josemaria’s decision not to celebrate Mass, the descent down the stairs from the rectory to the sacristy, the request to the Lord, in this place, to find a proof that he should continue on his way to Andorra, the meeting of the rose, probably in the chapel of Our Lady of the Roser, etc. At the end of the Holy Mass, before the image of the Virgin of the Roser, we sang the Salve on the third day of Her novena.

On the outskirts of the church, we spoke in more detail about St. Josemaría’s stay in Cal Vilaró, his visit to the church, accompanied by the Archpriest of Ponts, who was hidden in this farmhouse, the arrival of the rest of the expeditionaries, the night in the “oven,” and the march to St. Raphael’s cabin.

To conclude the expedition, we went to Cal Fenollet, where Rosa Coll was waiting for us, who received us and entertained us as she knows how to do it. Before lunch we saw the corral where the expeditionaries hid when they arrived at this place, coming from Aubenç, and how Rosa’s father was the one who brought them the food, from the farmhouse to that place, and other details they had with the fugitives.

With the stay in this place, we finished, in this year, our particular day of the Trobada de la Rosa, returning some to Pamplona and others to Valencia, with the purpose of returning while God gives us health.


To see the way they made every day from Escaldes to Andorra la Vella, read pages 180 and 181 of the book “Camino de Liberación“.