The Camino de Santiago pilgrimage takes hikers to a beautiful cathedral, and here’s what you need to know before getting there.
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the final destination of the Camino de Santiago. The cathedral is part of the World Heritage Site and has been a place of pilgrimage since the early Middle Ages. While the cathedral was originally built as a Romanesque structure, it later received Gothic and Baroque additions. Today the cathedral is spectacular and makes a wonderful place to end a week-long pilgrimage.
The cathedral is said to be the burial place of Saint James the Great (an apostle of Jesus Christ). Today it is one of the most revered places in Catholicism – the most revered are Jerusalem and Vatican City in Rome. One can visit the Vatican with a private tour early in the morning.
History of Santiago de Compostela
According to legend, it was Saint James the Great who introduced Christianity to the Iberian Peninsula. Legend has it that his tomb was rediscovered in 814 AD around 750 years after his death by a hermit called Pelagius. He found it after seeing strange lights in the night sky.
- Tomb: From Saint James the Great (called James, son of Zebedee in the Bible)
- Discovered: The remains of Saint James were “discovered” in 814 AD
Bishop Theodomirus claimed it was a real miracle and informed the Visigothic King Alfonso II of Asturias and Galicia. In response, the king ordered the construction of a chapel on the site, and (according to legend) the king was the first to make the pilgrimage there.
In 997, the early church that had grown up on the site was destroyed by the Islamic Moors under Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir – he was the commander of the Caliph of Cordoba. But the tomb of Saint-Jacques and the relics were left intact.
The capital and power center of Moorish Spain was Granada. Granada is a remarkable city that everyone should visit and still retains much of the best of Islamic architecture in Spain.
- Built: The first parts of the modern church were built in 1075
- Extended: La Compostela has grown considerably over the centuries
The cathedral we see today began construction in 1075 and was enlarged and embellished during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
Santiago de Compostela and its spiritual significance for Catholics
Santiago de Compostela is just one of three remaining churches in the world that claim to have been built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus. They are:
- Saint James: Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
- Saint Pierre: St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City
- Saint Thomas: St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica in Chennai, India
Today, the tomb of the apostle Saint-Jacques is in a crypt under the high altar. Pilgrims arriving here can visit the tomb. The remains of the apostle Saint James are kept in a silver urn – next to those of his disciples Saint Athanasius and Saint Theodore.
Today, these relics make the city of Santiago one of the most important pilgrimage destinations (it is considered one of the three most important Christian pilgrimages – the other two being to Jerusalem and Rome).
In recent times, the The Vatican did not refer to the relics of Saint-Jacques here, but rather that Compostela is “associated with the memory of Saint Jamess. “
Pope Benedict XVI declared in 2010 “Going on a pilgrimage is not simply visiting a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. Going on a pilgrimage is really going out of yourself to meet God where he has revealed himself …“
For Catholic pilgrims, confession and mass take place in the cathedral. Confession is available all day at the cathedral. If there are no priests in the confessionals or if you want to go to confession in your own language, you have to ask in the sacristy.
- To note: At the time of writing, the cathedral is under restoration and a pilgrimage mass is taking place in churches in the city
Compostela Pilgrimage accreditation
The “Compostela“is the accreditation of the pilgrimage to the Tomb of Santiago. To receive a”Compostela” We have to:
- Religious reasons: It is necessary to make the pilgrimage for religious or spiritual reasons or even in an attitude of research
- Walk the last 100 kilometers: You have to do the last 100 kilometers (63 miles) on foot or on horseback (or 200 km – 126 miles – by bike
- Stamp collecting: You have to collect stamps on the “Credenical de Peregrino” from places stuck to certify that you were there (in churches, inns, monasteries, etc.).
Plan the pilgrimage of a lifetime and finally admire the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and you can see the Tomb of Santiago.
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