Holiday Images
The Way of Saint James - continued
Sunday, June 18th
Breakfast is served on the third floor of the Parador, in a large room that is an example of the hotel's wonderful heritage. We sit at a table for four near the door, and an enthusiastic and very cheerful waiter actually runs to fetch two extra seats required for the table. Another extensive breakfast buffet that includes sparkling wine, which we use to make glasses of Bucks Fizz.
Today is to be spent exploring Leon, but our visit to the city will be dominated by the fact that the local population will be celebrating Corpus Christi. Our tour manager, Bob, escorts the group into the city pointing out a statue of the Virgin (below), and the Casa de los Botines (left) on the way. The Casa was designed by Antoni  Gaudi and was built in 1892/93; a stone sculpture above the doorway shows St George slaying the dragon (below).
We reach Plaza Regla, the location for Leon Cathedral, which is dedicated to Santa Maria de la Regla. Along with the Cathedrals at Burgos and Santiago, this masterpiece of the Gothic style of the mid-13th century, is one of the three most important Cathedrals on the 'Way of Saint James'. Preparations for the Corpus Christi celebration are beginning as John and David explore the nearby city walls.
We take up viewing positions facing the Cathedral's west front, occasionally moving to a different part of the Plaza Regla as activity relating to the Corpus Christi celebrations commences. The facade of the Cathedral is dominated by its towers and a massive rose window, but the building as a whole is a masterpiece of delicate stone carving. The square gradually fills up as groups of parishioners from various local churches arrive with the float that they are to carry in procession around Leon. The variously sized floats feature sacred figures or a monstrance containing the host. The number of faithful from each church varies significantly as does their standard of dress - many of the groups also arrive with large bands who are performing to a very high standard. The host is brought out from the Cathedral and placed on an elaborate float; the procession forms up and sets out.