To reach the recreation area of Mount Saint Gregorio, you have two options, the first is to go on foot, there is a staircase that begins very close to the convent Convento del Carmen with 132 steps, and the second option is to go by car by taking the route towards Rois, turning off to the left about 300 meters from the Santiago Bridge.
There we will encounter a lovely setting, perfect for spending an entertaining afternoon with family and friends, with tables, barbecues, fountains, playground etc.
This is an archaeological site that can be dated in Iron Age (3rd century B.C). According to the tradition, this place could be one of the holy places where the apostle Saint James preached in the Iberian peninsula by the year 40 A.D.
The Santiaguiño hermitage is also located there, although its exact construction date is unknown. However, in the 19th century, the Archbishop Rodrigo de Luna is propelled to go forward with its reconstruction. His interest in Padrón and Iria Flavia (his grave found inside the former collegiate) is confirmed by the doorpost that is adorned by his shield engraved with a cross and a crescent moon on top. It has a newly built porch where a bust was placed in 1999 (removed afterwards) of the Cardinal of Santiago, Martin Herrera, driver of the pilgrimages to the site and promoter of the restoration of the hermitage in the 19th century. On the east front door, the former entrance, the relief depicts the baptism of the queen Lupa by the Apostle Saint James. We can observe a squared pinnacle symbol of the divine ascension on both sides.
Interior of the hermitage
It only has one altar made of stone dominated by the image of the Apostle Saint James, eroded in the fingers and both hands due to the rubbing of the pilgrims against for centuries. Nowadays, this practice only takes place during the Novena and on July 25th Festival, when the famous romaría do Santiaguiño do Monte is held.
At beginning in the 15th century Mount Burgo began to be called Mount San Gregorio, in honor of the canon of Iria Flavia who rebuilt the chapel with his own funds and built houses for poor families (with no chance to see his project finished). His tomb stayed in the centre of the chapel until the remodelling of the temple in 1960.
This place was identified as the cave in which the Apostle hid, so from the 15th century it has been connected to the forgiveness of sins. It was a place where pilgrims drank and washed up as they approached the area where the apostle Saint James preached almost 2000 years ago.
Popular tradition spread the belief that this fountain was the result of a miracle of the Apostle, who made water spring up from the rock after hitting it three times with his cane to quench the thirst of a kind woman. Currently people continue to collect its water on Saint John´s Eve in order to mix it with certain herbs that purify them and free them from evil spirits.
In the middle of ten big rocks, the figure of Saint James emerges on a pedestal. At the front of these rocks there is a cross with an inscription of a prayer. According to some it reads “Esmola para Santiago Maior Apóstol” (Give alms for the apostle Saint James) while others say it reads “Esmola para Jesús y María”, (Give alms for Jesus and Maria). At the top, we see a stone cross previous to the 17th century.
Did you know…
That in the 16th century, the pilgrims climbed the rocks on their knees praying in each of the steps and ended the ritual by passing through each of them? Popular belief says that if we do not cross them while we are alive, we will when we are dead. Moreover, each of the three holes has been given a name: “hell”, “heaven”, and “purgatory”.
Popular tradition assures the Apostle used the rocks to escape from his pursuers, ensuring that the stone gave way to Saint James so that he could hide his head and right arm.