Abstract

This note explores a romeria (a pilgrimage to a local site) on the Costa da Morte (the Coast of Death) at Muxía, a small village in the autonomous region of Galicia, in Spain, where thousands of faithful romeros gather every September. As Roman Catholics, many are there simply to enjoy a socioreligious outing on the wind-swept rocky promontory that tips into the Atlantic Ocean, but most are there to participate in activities they believe will heal their bodies and souls-activities that involve their contacting a sacred image of the Virgin, leaving votive offerings in the form of wax simulacra (ex-votos) at the sanctuary church, attending an outdoor Mass, or climbing around and under several huge stones that lie between the sea and a nearby sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin. Oral tradition considers these stones to be the sail, tiller, and overturned hull of the boat Mary used when she sailed to Spain to console the Apostle James, who had become discouraged in his missionary activities. Muxía is one of Galicia’s most popular pilgrimage sites, venerated especially by sailors and those suffering from renal illnesses or in general need of succor from the shrine’s holy protector.

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