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Guardian Angel in a Black Beret

A young woman caught without lodging in Barcelona is assisted by a heavenly stranger.

An older gentleman in a black beret strolls away

Just off La Rambla in Barcelona, I thumbed through The Saints of Spain in a bookstore. A good read for the flight home. I couldn’t help but reflect on my own personal saint, the angel who’d saved my trip.

As a 20-year-old college student, traveling abroad for the first time on what I called a “spiritual journey,” I hadn’t booked accommodations in advance, figuring I could find a cheap hostel when I arrived. That was a mistake.

I knew little Spanish, but the brisk, sad shake of each hotelier’s head was easily translated—no room at the inn. The sun had just dipped below the horizon, and the Monument a Colom cast a shadow across the cobbled street. An old man approached, a black beret perched atop his white hair.

He motioned for me to follow, and I did… weaving down a narrow, dark side street. Finally he rang the bell on an unmarked door. “You will stay here,” he said. “It is a good place, and this man can be trusted.”

He was right. My room was huge—with a private bath, a desk, even a tiny balcony. I wanted to thank him, but he’d vanished. An angel, I thought.

Now, at the bookstore, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was him! “It is a good place, no?”

So he was real. “I want to thank you. What is your name?”

“Raphael,” he said. “You’re very welcome.” With that, he slipped away into the crowd on La Rambla. No angel, just a kind stranger, I thought.

Until the flight home. I flipped to a random page in The Saints of Spain. “Raphael,” it read, “is known as the patron of travelers. He helps guide spiritual journeys.” Yes, he does.


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