Zaragoza, Spain– Wednesday May 17, 2017

My roommate here in the hostel is an Englishman, whom I have only briefly met. He was gone all yesterday afternoon and evening. After I went to bed, he popped in to drop off a small backpack. He asked me to leave with him. I don’t know where he wanted us to go, but I was in bed and planned to get a good night’s sleep. I wasn’t going anywhere. He left again without me.

He finally returned about 5 am and fell into bed fully clothed. Apparently he then slept all day, because when I came  back from my walk around Zarqgoza late this afternoon, he was sitting in bed as if he had just awoken. I am glad I didn’t go with him to wherever he went. I am too old to be out drinking until the wee hours of the mornings.

Today was a day for visiting churches. There seem to be a lot of them here in Zaragoza. But, before I went out this morning, I got some work done on the novel that I am pretending to write, and I plan to write some more as soon as I post this blog entry.

I figured out where the steeple is that I saw down two different streets yesterday while walking to the hostel. The steeple on the left belongs to the church San Juan de los Panetes. That’s the church itself to the left of the picture. The steeple to the right belongs to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar. As if that weren’t enough churches to be in one spot, to the right outside the picture is the cathedral. There was a charge of four euros to enter the cathedral, so being very cheap, I skipped it. I did enter the other two churches.

The picture below is of the interior of San Juan de los Panetes. This is the only church I entered today where there wasn’t a mass in progress.

The photograph below shows the exterior of the Basilica de Nuestra Senñora de Pilar. The church, basilica, and cathedral are so close together in this location that it is difficult to tell where one leaves off and the next one begins. There were two entrances to the basilica. Part of one of the entrances is in the lower left corner of the picture, and the other is below the steeple.

Inside the basilica, mass was being held in one of the side chapels. The picture below shows the main part of the church’s interior. What impressed me most was the immense size of the square columns supporting the roof.

The first record of a church in this location dates from the year 40 after Christ, but major renovation was begun in 1293. Just how old the present construction is, I don’t know, but the style of the interior obviously dates from more recent times.

The church below is another basilica, the Basilica de Santa Engracia.

Inside this basilica, a sparsely attended mass was being held. I took the picture during communion, when everyone present went to the went to the front to receive what faithful Catholics believe is the body of Christ. Only one other person remained in the pews, a woman two pews before me and to the right outside of the picture.

I am no longer a believer, so I didn’t defame the ceremony by taking communion. In any case, if my childhood memory is accurate, one is supposed the go to confession and have a clean soul before partaking of the body of Christ. If anything can be said about my soul, it is the fact that it is far from clean.

Before communion, the part of the mass took place where everyone is supposed to shake hands with the others. A woman in the pew in front of me turned around and shook my hand.

Even though I stopped believing in the Catholic Church and even in God when I was still in my teens, I still find the ceremony of mass to hold an attraction that I can’t explain. There must be something in the human mind that is attracted to ceremony, even when the ceremony is devoid of meaning.

Tomorrow afternoon I take the train to Logroño, the most westward stop on this trip. Both Zaragoza and Logroño are on the Ebro River, so I will try to take some pictures of the river here tomorrow morning before I leave town.