The monumental public crucifix or cruceiro (pronounced “kroo-THAY-EE-roe”) is a regular feature the Galician landscape. You can find these slender towers in church courtyards, busy intersections, or windswept hills. They are typically cut from granite and date to the period between the 16th and mid-18th centuries. Some are just a simple and empty cross; others are adorned with figures like the one pictured above that I found in the town of Sarria, Spain. On one side is the crucified Christ. On the other is a figure of the Virgin Mary.

The steeple of the Church of Santa Mariña de Sarria rises in the background.

The prompts behind these monuments are many. One is tied to a Catholic belief that time spent in purgatory may be redeemed by pious works. This dogma was famously defined at the fifth session of the Council of Trent in the year 1546 (see here). Erecting a cruceiro was seen as a way to earn indulgences for loved ones or for self.

Similar stone crosses are found on waysides in France and Belgium. There they are known as calvaires.

Buen Camino!

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We have many travel experiences planned for 2019 (see list here). These are often organized on behalf of educational institutions or for church groups. If you are a leader who is interested in crafting a unique travel opportunity for your organization or if you are an individual who would like to join a group, shoot me an email at