Visiting the Cathedral

La Voz de Galicia – August 4, 2023 →

Cristina PatoI entered the cathedral through the same door I have been entering all my life, the one closest to the house. In Ourense, in the area where I grew up (in the viños), the cathedral was always one of the most fascinating havens of peace in a sometimes complex city. A place where one could simply be, seeking refuge, whether one went to mass or not, whether one was Catholic or not. When I went in, I was reminded that if I was going to make a «visit,» I had to pay an entrance fee, and I responded that I was visiting my mother’s saints, and I went in with my American friend who was in Galicia these past few days. And I visited Saint Rita, and the Immaculate, and the Christ of the Defenseless, and as soon as I left the small chapel where I have spent so much time in my life wondering, thinking, being, a person working for the corporation exploiting the cathedral approached me to say that they had observed that I was not there visiting saints but visiting the cathedral, and that’s why I had to pay. I explained to them that I was from there, that I had grown up there, that I had been visiting saints like that, walking around, as far back as I can remember, but no…apparently I wasn’t praying. And my friend paid the six euros they charge someone who is not from here for a «visit,» and I refused.

And then, at the entrance of one of the lateral chapels, I saw a person in a wheelchair listening to an audio guide, and, I suppose, trying to imagine what due to architectural barriers, could not go in to see, and I thought about the fact that perhaps the cathedral is not accessible, and that perhaps those six euros they charge foreigners (and two euros to those from around town), would serve to ensure that all people could have access to the «visit.» But I also remembered that the corporation has spent eight years exploiting the cathedral…I suppose they have other priorities.

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