On the morning of June 8, 2022, Wednesday, eleven residents of the Colegio Mayor Aralar, in Pamplona, left for Pallerols, accompanied by Fr Constantino Ánchel, expert in the Pyrenees Pass. The members of the group came from Spain, France, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, El Salvador and Brazil. Fr Francisco Varo and Javier Jiménez would be accompanying us only the first two days.
As Bishop Javier Echevarría said on September 3, 2015, when he was in Pallerols, "remembering our Father, living with our Father, being faithful to God as our Father and with our Father, must be the objective of each one and of each". Therefore, our goal was to be in the same places where Saint Josemaría Escrivá and those who were with him were when they tried to cross the Pyrenees in the direction of Andorra, and from there to go to the other part of Spain to be able to freely exercise their priestly ministry.
On the way from Pamplona to Pallerols we made a stop in Aínsa, where we ate, had a coffee and visited the town.
At 6:00 p.m. we were already in Pallerols, where we were received by Ramon Camats, who would solicitously guide and accompany us in the coming days through these lands so well known and loved by him. In the rectory next to the parish of Sant Esteve de Pallerols we left our bags and went up on foot to the nearby San Rafael cabin, where Saint Josemaría and other members of Opus Dei spent five days waiting for better conditions to continue their journey.
Back in Pallerols, we visited the church and were able to see the place where Saint Josemaría found the famous Rialb rose. We ate something we had prepared and went to sleep.
The next day, Fr Francisco preached to us about the meaning of these places deeply related to the heroic and dedicated life of Saint Josemaría. The plan for the day included a walk to Ribalera, at the foot of Mount Aubenç, where Saint Josemaría celebrated a Mass for about twenty people who were hidden in that place waiting to leave for Andorra.
Upon reaching the last stretch of the walk, Fr Francisco felt a little unwell and could not go on, so he went back to the car. Already in the Ribalera Fr Constantino celebrated the mass of the day that corresponded to the feast of Jesus Christ High and Eternal Priest. Then we had lunch and rested among the stones of that place. Back in Pallerols, some went to Oliana to buy a few things at the supermarket and then bathe in the Segre river, which by the way was slightly cold, despite the hot day. At night Fr Constantino and Jaime brought us a delicious dinner bought in Peramola.
On the third day of the excursion, after praying and participating in the Holy Mass in the church of Sant Esteve de Pallerols, and having breakfast, we set off at 11 a.m. in the direction of the Casa del Corb, where the group led by Saint Josemaría Escrivá spent nearly three hours resting before going to the Ribalera. Once there, we took the opportunity to read a few paragraphs from the book "Entre la noche y la esperanza", by Jordi Piferrer. We got back in the car and headed for Fenollet's house, where Escrivá's group had their last hot and hearty meal before arriving in Andorra several days later. There we found Jordi Piferrer himself, who gave us precise explanations about this stage of the Pyrenees crossing, and also Rosa, daughter of the young man who in 1937 brought the food to where the fugitives were hiding. In fact, she spared no attention to us, serving us an appetizing and generous lunch, finished with songs sung at the top of her lungs (The video below shows one of the songs: Malaika).
Leaving Fenollet we went for a quick swim in the Sallent River and then returned home. Shortly after Fr Constantino again brought us a dinner bought in Peramola: macaroni, beef and Catalan cream. All very rich!
The next day, after prayer, Mass and breakfast, we went by car to the beginning of the Barranc de la Cabra Morta, on the Civís river, where we all got out of the car --except the two drivers-- to make walk the route until a little after Mas d'Alins, already in Andorra.
Once the walkers and those who had arrived by car were together, we ate the food we had prepared in a picnic area. Already descending, upon reaching Coll de Jou and in sight of the town of Sant Julià de Lòria, we prayed a Hail as the group of Saint Josemaría did on December 2, 1937.
When we arrived at Sant Julià de Lòria we went directly to the church and made the Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, prayer and a very short walk through the town, remembering what the 1937 expedition did.
Back in Pallerols, for dinner we had a barbecue and sang many songs accompanied by the guitar of Fr Fernando Milan.
On Sunday, the day of the return to Pamplona, after the Mass for the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, we left Pallerols at 12 noon for Torreciudad, where we arrived at 2:30 p.m. There we ate and visited the sanctuary, where we attended the video-mapping in the beautiful altarpiece of the sanctuary. We leave from there at 5:00 p.m. and arrive in Pamplona at 8:00 p.m. When telling the other residents of the Colegio Mayor Aralar what we have experienced in recent days, there was a general feeling of relative envy among those who could not go. We hope that next year this magnificent plan can be repeated.
We end these days grateful to God and to all those who have collaborated for the success of this pilgrimage, and also full of hope for imitating this heroic group, who, 85 years ago, risked their lives to be able to live their Christian lives freely again and apostolic.