Watching The Hairy Bikers last night provided the perfect opportunity to come away and learn all about the The Way of St James or the Camino De Santiago without focusing entirely on the food!
The way is a pilgrimage to The Santiago De Compostela, a magnificent cathedral and the legendary resting place of Santiago, Spanish for St James. Legend has it that St James came to this North Western area of Spain to preach and to convert people to Christianity. But an evil fate awaited him upon his return to Palestine in 44 a.c. King Herod captured, tortured and eventually killed the good St James. He was put in a marble sarcophagus and left overnight before burial. But the disciples of Jacob stole his body and brought it back to Spain on a little boat.They buried him in a small, secret location in the woods.
Centuries later, in 813, a hermit heard music and saw a star shining above, pointing to a certain place. It was named Campus Stellae meaning Star Field or Field of the Star in Latin. Compostela is these two words put together.
Now Bishop Teodomiro heard of this place and organised an investigation. It was now that St James’ tomb was found. The King, King Alphonse II, declared St James Patron Saint of all of his empire and built a chapel there, by his resting place.
Some strange legends started coming out at this point. St James rose from the dead and won them the war against the invading moors? Really? Fought alongside the great warrior King Ramiro I?
But more and more pilgrims began flock to the chapel in the woods and The Camino De Santiago was born. And soon the tiny, original chapel became the Santiago De Compostela, the third most important holy town in the world.
The thing that I found most interesting was that the symbol for the way is a scallop shell. The reason behind this is that all the grooves in the shell represent the paths and pilgrimages to the Santiago De Compostela, they all start in different places, but they all end in the same, one location.