In essence, that's what today felt like to me. Ávila is a wondrous, ancient city that is best known as the home of Saint Teresa of Ávila. Here she was born, wrote her books, and lived her life in faith. She was a reformer, a Carmelite nun, and a theologian of who garnered tremendous popular affection.
It's also the home of Tomás de Torquemada, the first Grand Inquisitor, and thus was ground zero of the Spanish Inquisition. Rather than winning over the population, he convinced monarchs Isabel and Ferdinand to declare the Alhambra decree that expelled the Jews from Spain. His remains were pillaged and possibly incinerated in an ironic auto-da-fé.
Both come from a town with lovely walls, romantic streets, and beautiful buildings. The contrast between these two people struck me strongly. It was almost jarring to walk these streets and think of the ways history swung in alternative directions here.
I doubt that I can do justice to this comparison without writing one or two dissertations. But I've admired Saint Teresa of Ávila since I was in CCD. She has a natural advantage in any comparison because of that affection. But in my heart of hearts, I also like to think that it's more compelling, more authentic, more sincere if you win people over and not compel them.
So now that my Camino walk has ended and my pilgrimage trip is nearing its end, I have to wonder how this lovely land could inspire such contrasting ways of encouraging faith. And I pray that more people follow the Camino, the Way of Saint James, with the heart of an apostle and the brains and mental prayers of Saint Teresa.