If there is one thing for which Cantabria will remember the year 2017, it will be without a doubt the Liébano Jubilee Year, last celebrated more than a decade ago. Little wonder, as the opening of the Door of Forgiveness in the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana on April 23, something that only happens on Holy Years to welcome the pilgrims who arrive in this beautiful valley, will be commemorated with more than forty events. This is, in other words, the big party of the year hereabouts… Are you ready to experience it firsthand?
The Jubilee Year of Liébano is celebrated since 1512 and takes place every time the feast of Saint Turibius, on April 16, falls on a Sunday; this year, interestingly, it coincided with Easter Sunday, and so the celebration was moved to April 23. Another interesting fact: the Liébano Jubilee Year is the only one that covers two years, from April 2017 to April 2018. The last Holy Year was in 2006. The epicenter of the event is found in Santo Toribio de Liébana, a monastery that proudly houses the Lignum Crucis, the largest preserved fragment of the Cross of Christ. It is the end point of the Liébano Way, a pilgrimage route which inspires believers as well as hikers and lovers of nature.
The Liébano Way will mark a true turning point in your life, as it is, above all, a journey towards your own interior, one of those experiences that transform you inside and out. It is no coincidence that UNESCO considers it a World Heritage Site. You will find yourself, yes, but you will also have the good luck to discover the only part of the world where two Jubilee paths cross (the Way of St. James also passes through here), and to enjoy beautiful natural enclaves along this exceptional route: beaches, valleys, mountains, rivers and trails which for days will be your best travel companions.
The crucenos (as pilgrims along this route are known) carry a unique credential, the Lebaniega, and cross through some of the most important parts of Cantabria. Their benchmarks? Vertical signs with red arrows; although now, thanks to the free wi-fi connection throughout the area, finding one’s way is much easier.
The 72 kilometers that separate the coastal town of San Vicente de la Barquera and Santo Toribio, a distance that is usually divided into three stages, are full of scenes of unparalleled beauty that we can distinguish in two separate sections:
· On the one hand, the natural environment: virgin landscapes defined by a characteristic green color. The contrasts are worthy of a Hollywood film: the beach of San Vicente, on the Cantabrian Sea; the peaceful waters of the Nansa River; the famous Hermida Gorge, from which you can enjoy spectacular views; or the cozy town of Potes, with its singular medieval structures and famous Torre del Infantado tower. Simply perfect. And always, always, under the watchful eye of the Picos de Europa mountains.
· On the other hand, no less amazing is the historical legacy that you will encounter along the route: to mention just a few examples, the parish of Cicera, built in Baroque mountain style; the Church of Santa Juliana, in La Fuente; the Church of Santa Maria de Lebeña; or the Christ of Bielva, object of great veneration among the locals.
As a great new development, the tourism/cultural Cantabria Infinita walks have been organized, which will give you the opportunity to make the journey in a group and enjoy the adventure in a very different way. The dates run from the beginning of May to the middle of September.
One of the key moments of the celebration will be the opening of the Door of Forgiveness, a unique event in Jubilee Years: it will take place at 12 noon on Sunday the 23 and, by way of homage, all the churches of Cantabria will ring their bells in unison. The Vatican Philharmonic Choir will sing during the religious ceremony, serving as an opening act for dance groups and bands of bagpipers who will perform after the Eucharist in an interesting sample of regional folklore. Of course, the cultural events will happen in all the municipalities through which the Liébano Way runs.
And whatever you do, don’t miss the main course: Jean-Michel Jarre, the father of electronic music, will inaugurate the Liébano Jubilee Year with his show The Connection Concert. The exteriors of Santo Toribio are an ideal canvas for the spectacle of light and sound for which the great French artist is known, creating a magical and spiritual environment just perfect for the greatness of Liébana. An unforgettable experience. The expected date? Saturday, April 29. This event, along with the forty events of the weekend of April 22 and 23, is the prelude to a cultural and artistic program with around a thousand activities that the government of Cantabria has scheduled to celebrate the event during the next 12 months.
Now that you know why Cantabria dresses up in its Sunday best during the Liébano Jubilee Year… are you going to miss it?
Photos | ©Turismo de Cantabria