Associació d'amics del camí de Pallerols de Rialb a Andorra
 
9 days in Andorra: from December 2 to 10, 1937
Resting for nine days in Andorra

In the news previously published we have been able to follow the painful experiences and the hard marches along 100 km until we reached Sant Julià de Lòria on December 2, 1937.

Andorra was indeed for them, as for many other people, a place of welcome, refuge and freedom; for this reason, when Saint Josemaría recalled these events, he always spoke of them as "our way of liberation."

Because of a heavy snowfall, they had to stay in Andorra from December 2 to 10, the day they were finally able to leave through the French border of Pas de la Casa.

The nine days they stayed in Andorra meant a magnificent rest for the group, after the beating of the previous days. We must bear in mind that since July 18, 1936, they had been persecuted for seventeen months, poorly fed, with intense internal and external suffering.

The following can be deduced from the diaries they wrote:

- In Andorra they were able to rest and eat with dignity at the Palacín hotel (today it is called Hotel Siracusa), from Escaldes-Engordany.

- They occupied four rooms with two beds, some of which faced the river and others the street, according to what is deduced from the historical documents we have. They were distributed two by two: Saint Josemaría and Juan Jiménez Vargas, Pedro Casciaro and Francisco Botella, José Mª Albareda and Miguel Fisac, Manuel Sainz de los Terreros and Tomás Alvira. Some of the people mentioned in the newspaper also lived in the same Palacín hotel at that time: Colonel René Baulard, who was the head of the French forces that ensured order in the Principality, as well as the expedition guide Josep Cirera, who usually he was staying at this hotel.

- Saint Josemaría celebrated Holy Mass every day, in the churches of Escaldes or Andorra la Vella, in addition to the oratories that the Benedictine Fathers of Montserrat had in Escaldes and also in the oratory that the nuns of the Sagrada Familia had.

- Practically every afternoon they went to Andorra la Vella to visit Mn. Lluís Pujol, archpriest of Andorra, who always took great care of them. They had pleasant gatherings with him, while they warmed themselves by the fireplace and he invited them to eat authentic Andorran cake, coffee and a glass of anise was never missing.

On December 3, Saturday, José María Albareda writes in the Diario:

First awakening in bed with sheets, and at the ringing of a bell. The physical wear and tear has been so brutal, that this long sleep of ten or more hours was needed, a solid, deep, restorative sleep. At eight o'clock, we get up after the "Pax", which the Father has told us. And we go to the Mass that the Father celebrates, in the church of Escaldes. It is the first Mass we hear in a church; and this return to liturgical normality full of emotion.

 

On December 5, Sunday, Pedro Casciaro wrote in the Diario:

Visit to the Archpriest lasted five hours and we spent the afternoon pleasantly. We returned to Escaldes, said goodbye, and each one of us began in his room (the rooms were for two) to undress from those garments that we have worn on our bodies for so long ...: we have a real shortage of clothes; we don't even have two changes each; everything has been falling by the wayside.

 

On December 10, Friday, José María Albareda wrote in the Diario:

This day seems to be of special interest, because it was finally decided last night to leave Andorra.

The appointed time to leave by bus is seven thirty. We get up at six, so that Father may celebrate Holy Mass in the parish of Escaldes at six thirty.

We finally left Escaldes. Up, up, you have to reach the port at 2,400 ms. Tall.

 

In Soldeu the bus could not continue because of the snow. And they continued on foot down the snowy road. There are about 13 kilometers to Pas de la Casa, entering France, where another bus will wait.

 

At first there is little snow, the kilometer and hectometer indicators are well visible, and there is an open path. Then there is more snow, you can't see the cairns that mark the distance. He sinks his whole knee into the soft ground.

We ascend, dropping the knees and even the thigh in deep tracks.

In Pas de la Casa, a bus with about 14 seats awaits, in which we compress our twenties. And to Hospitalet.

Luggage magazine. Documentation control. This lasts from two to five-something.

 

It was dark and they continued the journey to St. Gaudens, where they arrived around ten o'clock at night, spending the night at the Central Hotel.

 

The following day, December 11, Saturday, Saint Josemaría celebrated Mass in the sanctuary of Lourdes, and they continued their journey to the Franco-Spanish border of Irún.

 

Note.- To be able to read directly the historical documents that narrate the group's stay in Andorra and that are collected in the Diario that they wrote every day, you can go to the book Camino de Liberación on pages 135 to 191, where you will also find many photographs of the places where Saint Josemaría was during these days, as well as plans to visit these places.

Associació d'Amics del Camí de Pallerols de Rialb a Andorra.   Av. Diagonal, 620, 1er. 2a, 08021 - Barcelona (Spain) . Tel.: (+34) 629 910 612