Today, we went to Avila, but most of the places were closed, due to a national holiday. The churches there seemed completely unprepared for any visitors, which is kind of odd. I mean, World Youth Day starts in Madrid tomorrow, so thousands of people decided to stop by Avila today.
The cathedral was as closed off as possible. The side entrance was locked with a huge gate, and the cathedral only had a small corner to look at, with everything else roped off. The one picture we could see was kind of nice, though, and lots of groups took pictures outside the gates.
The next closest church was St. John the Baptist. St. Theresa of Avila was baptized there; they have a special display about it at their baptismal font. The priest there was trying to kick everyone out, because he wanted to go home and have a siesta. But whenever the priest opened the door to let someone out, tons of new people would try to get in. I wanted to stay there for a bit, but there was only enough time to pray the Three Hail Marys and to see the baptismal font.
The next closest church is sort of connected to the monastery that St. Theresa went to. The monastery and all the surround buildings—like the museum—were closed. We got to see the church, because they were just finishing with mass, and they opened the doors to let the people out. But as soon as the doors were opened, all the pilgrims poured inside. The communion song was "I am the Bread of Life", being sung in English. I thought it was moving to have a hundred people enter the church at once and respectfully join in the communion song.
Hundreds of pilgrims were at Avila today, like I said earlier. A lot of the groups seemed content just to find out where everyone else is from. So, there was a lot of shouting and cheering about geographical locations. "Conneticut!" "Kenya!" "Viva La France!"
Actually, the French group didn't cheer at all, but we cheered for them when we saw their flag. Here is the extent of the conversation I had with them.
French Person: Euh.
I think some of the guys want to go back to Avila on our day off, because almost everything was closed, and we didn't get enough time to explore the two churches we kind of snuck into. Also, we didn't get to spend much time in Avila, because the train schedule forced us to leave early. Most of the trains were full, because everyone is headed into Madrid. We went back there and had mass and dinner. And that was basically it for today.