|Comment on this report, or find other reports.
|Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
|Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
de Santa Teresa de Jesús, La Cala de Mijas, Spain
Parroquia de Santa Teresa de Jesús (also known as St
Teresa of Avila), La Cala de Mijas, Costa Del Sol, Spain.
Modern, square-shaped and unremarkable white-painted building.
The two large stained glass windows above the door and the whiteness
of the walls inside give it a light and airy feel, although
it is very minimalist in terms of furnishings. The sanctuary
is dominated by a huge crucifix, and around the church and adjoining
Lady chapel are images of St Teresa, Our Lady, and a life-sized
image of Nuestro Padre Jesús Cautivo (the Captive Jesus)
clad in a purple robe.
Dedicated to St Teresa of Jesus (also known as St Teresa of
Avila). Mass is celebrated every weekday evening and on Sunday
mornings. There are further masses in English a couple of times
a week and on Sunday afternoons.
The former fishing village of La Cala de Mijas is situated on
the Costa Del Sol, in southern Spain, between the towns of Marbella
and Fuengirola. It is home to a large community of locals and
a fluctuating population of predominantly British and German
residents and tourists. It is a mixture of traditional, narrow
Spanish village streets full of tapas bars and local shops,
which sit side by side with British and Irish pubs and supermarkets,
and modern holiday apartments complexes.
Don Ramón Tejero Díez, parish priest.
The date & time:
Feast of St Teresa of Jesus, Friday, 15 October 2010, 7.30pm.
[Editor's note: Due to the press of personal business, the Mystery
Worshipper did not file this report until 25 July 2011.]
What was the name of the
Misa de Romería de Santa Teresa (Mass for the
Patronal Festival of Saint Teresa).
How full was the building?
Packed out, and bursting at the seams. I think the church could
seat at least 100 people, but all available seats were taken,
and those who could not get a seat stood in any available space.
Some (including me) spilled onto the pavement outside.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Was your pew comfortable?
I didnít get a seat, so I stood in the doorway along with many
How would you describe the pre-service
Buzzing with chatter and people greeting friends and neighbours
with kisses and handshakes. Some of the ladies were dressed
in flamenco dresses and many of the men wore suits and ties.
Outside in the street, members of the brass band that accompanied
the procession after mass were tuning up their instruments.
What were the exact opening words of the
En el nombre del Padre, del Hijo y del Espiritu Santo.
What books did the congregation use during the
What musical instruments were played?
No instruments were played, but a tiny grey-haired Spanish lady
with an ear-splitting voice sang the antiphon at the start of
the mass, the responses to the psalm, the alleluia acclamation
before the gospel, and a hymn after communion, all unaccompanied.
Did anything distract you?
Yes. There was a family sitting in one of the pews at the back
of church consisting of three young children and their parents.
The children munched on crisps, sweets and chocolate bars all
through the mass.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Standard modern mass in Spanish, fairly formal, but not too
stiff upper lip. The priest was vested in a white and gold chasuble,
and altar boys and girls were robed in plain white cassocks.
No smells or bells during the mass, but afterwards the image
of St Teresa was censed before being taken on procession around
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
2 Don Ramón spoke in a low voice as he read from
notes. Unfortunately, he was mostly inaudible due to the poor
acoustics and sound system. What little I could hear, though,
sounded uninspiring and very basic. He quoted an excerpt from
one of St Teresa's poems but his analysis seemed superficial.
It would have been good to hear a more intellectual meditation
on the words of that great mystic saint, Teresa of Avila.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
From what I could hear it was a sermon on the words of St Teresa:
"Christ has no body but yours; no hands, no feet on earth
but yours." Don Ramón mentioned that enemies of
the faith are all around us, and that Christianity is under
threat throughout Europe. He implored the congregation to remember
their Catholic heritage, and that they were Christís Body, and
therefore must uphold and defend the Catholic faith from those
who seek to destroy it.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
The peace Ė which is unusual for me, as I am usually indifferent
to whether the peace is exchanged or not. The peace was shared
enthusiastically amongst the congregation both outside and inside.
It was a joy to see so many people moving away from their groups
of extended family and friends and exchanging the peace so warmly
with those around them who were evidently strangers. Although
the service was mainly attended by the Spanish local community,
there were also many other nationalities present, and it was
good to see the integration of all communities in the shared
peace and celebration of mass.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I was far enough away from the crisp-crunching children not
to be bothered by them. However, a lot of people standing at
the back of the church and around the doorway were chatting
amongst themselves, making it difficult to hear and concentrate
on the mass. A man standing behind me on the pavement nonchalantly
smoked cigarettes all through the mass. Even during the consecration,
he puffed away as he crossed himself.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
A procession followed immediately after mass. The priest, accompanied
by a couple of boy and girl servers, took the statue of St Teresa
down from its plinth in the church and placed it on top of a
large float that was bedecked with flowers. He blessed the statue
and the float and then censed them. Several local young men
lifted the heavy float aloft and carried in on their shoulders.
As the float emerged from the church into the street, it was
heralded by a trumpet fanfare from the band. Many people burst
into rapturous applause and cried out "Viva Santa Teresa"
in approval. The image was carried in solemn procession around
the town accompanied by various uniformed local youth organisations,
the brass band, and clouds of incense. People lined the streets
to watch, and many people spontaneously broke into songs and
paeans to St Teresa of Jesus as the float passed by them.
How would you describe the after-service
There was none, I donít think Spanish churches do that. Furthermore,
this mass started off the week long celebrations in honour of
La Calaís patron saint. As it was quite damp weather, a large
marquee had been set up in the centre of town for some of the
festivities: eating, drinking, live music and dancing, and childrenís
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
2 Even if I were Roman Catholic or lived over there,
I donít think I would want to make it my regular. I find mass
in most Spanish churches to be too perfunctory. I didnít like
the church building Ė too bland and modern for me.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Not so much the service, except for the peace, but the procession afterwards did. It was orderly and dignified, yet at the same time uninhibited and unapologetic in its veneration of the town's patron saint.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The procession, with its mixture of solemnity and emotion on a damp October night.
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.