O Cebreiro has grown from a small and ancient village of dairy farmers into a small and ancient village of large scale tourism. With luck you will arrive in a shroud of fog and leave with an abundance of sunshine; both suit this village well.
Santa María and the Holy Miracle are celebrated on the 8th and 9th of September.
It has played an important role throughout the history of the camino. It was the parish priest, Father Elías Valiña Sampedro, who is most responsible for the resurgence of the camino. It was he that first painted the yellow arrows, and the tales that surrounded him doing so are the stuff of legend. Once, in 1982, he and his white Fiat van parked along a trail in the Pyrenees. It was a time when Basque separatists were trading blows with the Guardia Civil, and when they came upon him, suspicions were aroused.
He opened the van door to reveal cans of yellow road paint and identified himself as the parish priest of O Cebreiro (a long way from home). When asked what he was doing his answer was as simple as it was prophetic: “I am preparing a great invasion!” It was he that orchestrated the installation of the granite hitos as well. His death in 1989 meant that he only got to see the trickling start of his invasion.
The parish church is also the setting for a miracle. According to legend, The Holy Grail was hidden there and in the 14th century produced a miracle that was certified by Pope Innocent VIII. A peasant from a local village braved the hike up to O Cebreiro during a dangerous snowstorm to hear mass. The priest chastised him for endangering his life for a bit of bread and wine. At that the bread and wine turned into flesh and blood, cementing the reputation of this small hamlet.
From the top, it is mostly downhill, though there remain a few brief climbs, all of the way to Triacastela.