Santiago de Compostela
The history and legends of the shrine of Santiago and the Romanesque Cathedral of Compostela
Santiago de Compostela lies only twenty miles inland from the Atlantic ocean at the far western extremity of the European landmass, known by the Romans as Finis Terra, the end of the earth.
Twelve hundred years ago on the westernmost margin of the European continent, an ancient mausoleum was found. One of the skeletons inside the stone tomb was identified as Christ’s apostle James.
Saint James the Greater was one of Jesus’ twelve Apostles. A Galilean fisherman, he was with his brother of John and their friend Peter the first disciples recruited by Jesus and they formed his inner circle.
The name of La Puerta de las Platerías given to the south transept entrance of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is generally considered to refer to the silversmiths whose stalls proliferated on the square below, selling trinkets to pilgrims.
The altars of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela were dedicated to those saints whose shrines lay along the pilgrimage roads. The emergence of the pilgrimage to Compostela in the eleventh century combining with the Great Schism which separated the Orthodox and the Catholic church in 1054 led to a redrawing of the sacred topography of the Christian world.
It appears that the Transfiguration tympanum at the western entrance of the cathedral of Santiago was never fully completed. The iconographic programme of the three great portal reliefs at Compostela were intended as a combined expression of the full significance of the Apostolic shrine situated on the edge of the world.
According to the Pilgrim’s Guide, the cathedral of Compostela had three great portals, one of which was the Porta Francigena. Expressed through the iconography of the sculpture above their double doorways, they combined to present a history of the Christian redemption narrative through the medium of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Construction of the Romanesque cathedral of Santiago de Compostela was begun under the patronage of the emperor king of León and Castile, Alfonso VI. In its time it was a building, which for size and prestige stood on equal footing with perhaps only four or five others in Western Latin Christendom.
The fortifications of the Torres de Oeste guarded the estuary which led towards the city of Santiago de Compostela.
Christian writers, from the earliest years were keen to set down in writing the lives of the saints and the miracles which they performed, whether during their lifetime or through their relics after death. Many of these texts failed to...
Whosoever is truly penitent, and is from faraway shores, and has sought to request with all his heart forgiveness from the Lord and help from Saint James in Galicia, without doubt will have the slate of his sins wiped clean in eternity. At the Romanesque cathedral of...