Weekly Photo Challenge: (Extra)ordinary

A Txa Church of Seashells

A Church Made of Seashells

On a visit to Galicia in North-West Spain we drove one day to A Toxa  simply to see its only famous tourist attraction; the small twelfth century church of San Caralampio set in beautiful gardens and which is completely covered in scallop shells.  We crossed the bridge from O Grove to the island and by a combination of a stroke of luck and by driving the wrong way down a one way street we found it almost immediately.

The shell is the traditional symbol of pilgrimage because the grooves in the shell, which come together at a single point, represent the various routes that pilgrims travelled, all eventually arriving at a single destination.  It is also symbolic of the pilgrim because just as the waves of the ocean wash scallop shells up on the shores of Galicia, God’s hand also guides the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.

Sir Walter Raleigh wrote:

Give me my scallop shell of quiet;
My staff of faith to walk upon;
My scrip of joy, immortal diet;
My bottle of salvation;
My gown of glory (hope’s true gage);
And then I’ll take my pilgrimage.

It had been a long way to drive but it was really worth it and the church looked magnificent in the late afternoon sun and framed against a perfect blue sky  with its gleaming scallop shells bleached even more brilliantly white by the sun.

A Toxa 1


23 responses to “Weekly Photo Challenge: (Extra)ordinary

  1. I just went to read about Saint Caralampio. Those martyrs were a stoic lot!

    Imagine collecting and attaching all those shells!


  2. A unique place. Thanks for enlightening me to the reason the shell symbolises the Camino, makes perfect sense if I had only thought about it!


  3. There was no television in those days, of course!


  4. Looks beautiful! 🙂


  5. Wow, how amazing! Thanks for telling us about it and your photos are lovely!


  6. Talk about recycle / reuse. Excellent idea, but as you mention, I also wonder about maintenance. Still a brilliant idea and a showpiece of a building.
    I can’t imagine how many millions of shells had been used. Scallops must have been main plentiful and main fare like cod in Newfoundland.


  7. That is extraordinary. How painstaking to fit all of the shells together.
    On a personal note I am going to be traveling and helping my Mom move for the next 10 days or so . If you don’t see me here you’ll know I’m in a cardboard box. 🙂


    • School half term here, I am entertaining grandchildren all week.
      What major changes will the Liberals make?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Andrew I am no expert for sure and if you look at a map of Canada and where the support lies Alberta is almost entirely Conservative. I think a major change will be higher taxes for higher income earners. Also to go into 10 billion dollars of debt to boost the economy, create jobs, etc.
        Ok heading out on my 8 hour drive. Have great fun with the grandkids!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow wow wow. Are visitors allowed to touch it? I am so amazed that someone would do this.


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