Renewing a pilgrimage path


"A pilgrimage is the formal visit to a place that presents some tangible aspect of the sacred to the seeker." Paul Devereux. San Ambrosio is a village between the coast of Trafalgar and the hilltop town of Vejer de la Frontera in Southern Andalucia. The ancient church and ruins in San Ambrosio can be dated back to the late Bronze Age, and archeologists believe that the Roman ruins in front of the main temple space were used as chambers where wax and honey were processed, which is an interesting connection, as San Ambrosio is the patron saint of bees.

The site itself is part of a wider landscape temple, which connects another church (the sanctuary of la Oliva) and Vejer. Marko Pogacnik writes about landscape temples in his book Sacred Geography: “...they involve the pure spiritual orchestration of different power centres, focuses of elemental beings, sacred mountains and so forth, through which a supra-structure is formed, capable of holding eternity present within space and time structures.“ These connections between different power centres in the landscape were made by neolithic cultures who honoured them through rituals and pilgrimages. In the last five years I have studied this landscape temple with several groups of people. We saw that the link between the site of the church of la Oliva and vejer is in tact through the annual Christian pilgrimage the local people do, carrying the Virgin up to the town every summer. The link between the church of San Ambrosio and Vejer, however, is not kept alive, and so together with the neighbourhood association, we decided to bring back into the collective memory this ancient pilgrimage route. On the 7th of December a group of local people gathered together to reweave, with our intention and footsteps, the relationship between these places. With the growing interest from people in the area we are hoping to make it an annual event where the qualities of the site can be 'reconnected' to the town of Vejer.