Associació d'amics del camí de Pallerols de Rialb a Andorra
The arrival of Saint Josemaría in Andorra on December 2, 1937
From the Ribalera to Sant Julià de Lòria (Andorra)

In the two news published above, we remembered the meeting of Rosa in Pallerols on the morning of November 22, 1937 and then we accompanied St. Josemaría to the Cabana de Sant Rafael, where he stayed from November 22 to 27. Finally, we attended the Mass celebrated in La Ribalera on the morning of November 28th.

In today's news, we will accompany him on his journey over 4 nights from La Ribalera, where they left at 5 pm on November 28, to Andorra where he arrived on the morning of December 2.

Four days walking about 12 hours at night, from 6 pm to 6 am, and resting 12 hours a day, from 6 am to 6 pm. Very cold, little food, frequent falls, torn toenails, wounds on hands and feet, very tired and afraid of being discovered at any time. This was the tone of all escape expeditions through the Pyrenees in the days of war, from 1936 to 1939, and also later during World War II, in the opposite direction, until 1945.

The first night stage with the new guide, Josep Cirera, from La Ribalera to Fenollet, was long and hard. At the start they had to overcome the mountain of Aubenç with a steep slope, thank goodness that when they arrived in Fenollet they were given a splendid meal.

Antoni Dalmases describes it in his newspaper of 1937:

At approximately two o'clock they bring food. Standing in line, they hand us a huge pot of beans; then another rabbit. It is a splendid meal; we eat with real hunger. Fortunately, everything is hearty, good, and hot. Then, again to sleep until six in the afternoon, which is when the preparations for departure begin.

The second night's walk also began with a good climb to the Santa Fe mountain, followed by a steep descent to the Cabó River and to end with a long climb of about 1,000 m. to the Coll d'Ares. On this ascent, St. Josemaría had a serious death that promised that he could continue to Andorra.

Juan Jiménez Vargas remembers it in 1980:

The rise of Ares was especially serious for Father. The dyspnoea breathing and the uncountable pulse made us fear a physiological failure like that of Tomás, and, although we were very sure that he would overcome the fatigue, the guide could get nervous again.

On the third night, they continue parallel to the Segre river and cross the Castellbò and Aravell rivers. A cold night with continuous wet feet and legs.

Manuel Sainz de los Terreros remembers it briefly in his diary of 1937:

Departure at 5 and arrival in the thick forest at 6.30.— My knees are fatal.— Toenail torn off.— Through the valley wading the river about 20 times.— Very long and wet feet all the way.— Very dirty without washing or touching clothes.— 6 days.— Eat only a bit of cheese and chorizo with bread.— Because I can't get out of the hole, I don't sleep (there's no room) and it's very cold.

The fourth night is also very long and hard, without food and steep climbs, the Barranc de la Cabra Morta. Very cold and another death of St. Josemaría. They arrive happily in Sant Julià de Lòria (Andorra) around 9 in the morning on December 2.

Pedro Casciaro recalls this in a writing from 1975:

At dawn, the contemplation of the peaceful village of Sant Juliá made us understand that the long nightmare of the Pyrenees crossing had ended: that we were finally free.

They arrived in Sant Julià de Lòria and entered the parish church to give thanks to God before the Blessed Sacrament.

Note.- To expand on this brief summary, you can read the book Camino de Liberación, pages 79 to 133, and pages 246 to 277, where you will find the testimonies written by the protagonists of the expedition.

Associació d'Amics del Camí de Pallerols de Rialb a Andorra.   Av. Diagonal, 620, 1er. 2a, 08021 - Barcelona (Spain) . Tel.: (+34) 629 910 612