Water, whether sweet or salty, is the connecting thread that will lead us along this magical experience full of saints, fountains, springs and miraculous stones; all turned into altars for the healing of ailments and for the celebration of fertility rituals.

“If you go to San (dear) Saint Benedict / don't go to the one in Paredes, / there is another more miraculous / at the convent of Lérez”.

“I took my wife / to A Lanzada, to the nine waves; / I took her to be cleansed / and cast the demons out”.

Date of the religious pilgrimages:
- San Benitiño de Lérez: 11th July.
- Nuestra Señora de los Milagros de Amil: Sunday following 8th September.
- Nuestra Señora de las Cabezas de Armenteira: Easter Monday.
- Nuestra Señora de la Lanzada: Last weekend of August.

Day 1

We begin our journey with a visit to the old quarter of Pontevedra, one of the loveliest and best preserved of Galicia. To stroll through the charming squares of Teucro or A Leña, under the stone arcades, or to have coffee at the sidewalk cafés of the Praza da Ferrería square is a very pleasant experience, especially on a sunny Spring day, with the camellias in bloom. A visit to the original church of A Peregrina, with its scallop shell shape is a must. Elegant and pretty, it houses the image of the patron saint of Pontevedra. It is ideal for starting off on our magical journey.

A few minutes later we find the Monastery of San Salvador, which houses the carving of San Benitiño de Lérez (Saint Benedict of Lérez). The church, dating from the 18th century, stands on a hill that offers magnificent views of the city of Pontevedra and of the river Lérez. The image of San Benitiño de Lérez is small, but as the popular folk song sings, his size does not prevent him from being the most miraculous saint. Saint Benedict is perfect for curing warts and skin problems: just stroke his face with a handkerchief and purchase the magic oil, 

If you happen to be there on the main day when the procession takes place, you will see how the faith of the devotees is clearly shown on the cloak made of bills that cover it completely. On the day of the festivity, walking along the banks of the River Lérez, you will see how the pilgrims travel upstream in colourful vessels, decorated with ribbons and flowers. After visiting the saint you can enjoy a country picnic, just like a pilgrim: empanada (Galician pie) and Galician wine to the sound of the gaiteiros (bagpipers).

Continuing our journey northwards, we reach the santuario de Nosa Señora dos Milagres de Amil (Our Lady of Miracles of Amil), in Moraña. As soon as you get there you will realise that it is an active place of worship, especially if you visit it on the days of festivity.

What is most surprising about this religious pilgrimage are the night time walks by the devotees to attend mass at dawn. Another typical image of the pilgrimage are the candles, as tall as a person, that lean against the church walls. Some of them burn, waiting to be purchased to be carried in the procession. Silence overcomes the devotees, who walk upright or kneeling, slowly, behind the bearers of the image that is completely covered by money offerings, or by photographs of the grateful. The beautiful and delicate carving of the Virgin stands out. She wears a white cloak with gold embroidery and her black hair with long curls peeks out beneath her veil. Another ritual that you can join in is to drink, sprinkle, or wash yourself at the fountain of holy water at the foot of the majestic staircase with one hundred steps that leads to the church. You can also continue the ritual by following in the footsteps of the pilgrims who wish to ease their fervour by visiting Rozavella, is less than one kilometre away, and  the place where the first magic spring is located.

Most of the devotees ask Nosa Señora dos Milagres de Amil for health or protection, just like the seamen who leave replicas of their vessels, which is unusual, for this church is located away from the coast.

Before continuing towards our next destination, we stop along the way to enter another magical atmosphere, this time related to nature. This is where the waterfalls of the River Barosa are located, a magnificent spectacle formed by mills and natural pools. If the weather permits it, you can bathe in the crystal clear waters and feel the force of the water falling on you, as if you were in a natural spa.

Day 2

After that relaxing walk with which we conclude the first day, we move on Meis to visit the  sanctuary de Nosa Señora das Cabezas de Armenteira (Our Lady of the Heads of Armenteira). While Saint Benedict cures warts, Our Lady handles headaches. In fact, the inside of the church is full of votive offerings with the shape of this part of the body, lit up by candles. But, strangely enough, the healing power of Our Lady goes even further: the day before the religious pilgrimage, many students camp in the surroundings of the sanctuary asking her to help then by giving them good memory to be able to pass their exams.

The saint's church is inside the premises of the monastery of Armenteira, founded by the noble and Abbot Sir Ero. The legend says that during one of his walks through Armenteira, the Abbot asked the Virgin to allow him see Paradise. Then, in the tree under whose shade the Abbot rested a little bird began to sing. Its song was so pleasant that the monk lost track of time and  there he stayed, sitting on the soft grass, by the spring. And so, thinking that he had only been there for a little while, two hundred years had actually passed! This is one of the miracles of the Virgin sung by Alfonso X of Castile, which confirms the legend that is told in the parish church of Santa María de Armenteira.

And, to end this magical and miraculous itinerary, we head towards the sanctuary of Nosa Señora da Lanzada (Our Lady of A Lanzada), located in the tourist town of Sanxenxo. The main ritual linked to this temple is related to the desire to have descendants or to conceive a child. The magic ceremony, inherited from ancient times, says that exactly at midnight on the eve of the pilgrimage, or on the eve of San Juan (Saint John), all those women who want their wish of becoming mothers to come true must take a “fertility bath” in the salty waters of the beach of A Lanzada, allowing nine waves to wash over them. But this bit of cold Atlantic Ocean also cures all types of disaeses. The rest of the year, and especially near the days when the patron saint is honoured, you can also join the people who bathe with the hope of “cleansing”, as the popular song says, their ailments

Having ended the route through these holy places, there is nothing better to heal the body than a lovely dinner at one of the many sidewalk cafés in Sanxenxo or Portonovo.  A seafood grille or a caldeirada de raia (skate fish stew), with wine from Rías Baixas, are only a small sample of the rich and varied gastronomy of the area.