Spain Destinations: The Way Of St. James Pilgrimage

The Legend Of St. James

Legend tells that St.James, one of Jesus apostles , was sentenced to death by Herodes in the year 44 A.D. His body was stolen by his disciples who traveled from Palestine to Galicia by sea. The journey took them across the Mediterranean, navigated through the Hercule’s Columns, continued to the Atlantic Ocean and mysteriously appeared at the port of Iria Flavia, the capital of Roman Galicia.

When the small boat arrived without anybody on board except St.James’ stone coffin, some fishermen recognized the coffin’s shield and engraving and buried it in a nearby forest inside a stone cave. For centuries, the vegetation covered the burial site…

In the year 825 A.D. a hermit called Pelayo saw lights coming out of the forest and was amazed to discover those lights came from under a pile of shrubs. The bishop, Teodomiro, was called to the spot and found the stone coffin with St.James’ bones inside. King Alfonso II ordered the construction of a small chapel. News of the findings traveled through Europe and soon all kind of pilgrims started their journey to this spot which today is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

When in the XIX century the base of the cathedral was excavated, a tomb was found with remains of three different males, one of them had been decapitated. Pope Leon XIII accepted the remains as those of St.James and two of his disciples.

The Way Of St. James Routes

Whether you believe or not St. James is buried under Santiago’s Cathedral, it is worth a visit. Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James. Thousands of people of different backgrounds and beliefs walk the Camino de Santiago either on their own or in organized groups every year. It may take you a month to get there if you start at St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France, the beginning of the Camino Frances (French Route). You can also travel directly to Santiago and then take a smaller route to the Cathedral. Whatever you decide, I would recommend a visit at least once in your lifetime.

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