The tomb of St. James the Greater was discovered around the year 820. This event was immediately followed by the creation of the sacred place to venerate his remains. Today, twelve centuries later, pilgrimage represents a unique experience in our globalized world.
The pilgrimage phenomenon soon became a significant spiritual and cultural focal point for Europe, turning Santiago into a major pilgrimage site, along with Rome and Jerusalem. The Way of St. James has acted as a true ‘pathway of knowledge’.
This is the most famous medieval codex on the pilgrimage to Santiago. It is a five-book compilation of all of the liturgical texts, Jacobean traditions, miracles and records of the pilgrimage route, produced in Compostela in the 12th century.
A jubilee year is celebrated in Santiago de Compostela any time 25 July, the feast day of St. James the Greater, falls on a Sunday. This happens every six, five, six and eleven years. It begins with the opening of the Puerta Santa (Holy Door) on 31 December of the previous year.
One of the most famous symbols of the cathedral is the Botafumeiro, which may be largest censer in the world. It is used at masses celebrated on key dates at the cathedral, as well as every Friday (7:30 p.m.). In addition, the pilgrim mass is held at the cathedral’s high altar every day at noon.
The pilgrim’s credencial is a sort of passport which must be stamped on each stage of the route. It must be stamped at least two times a day over the final 100 km (for pilgrims on foot or horseback) or the final 200 km (for pilgrims on bicycle). At the end of your pilgrimage, you will receive the Compostela.
This large reception and gathering place is situated in Rúa Carretas, a few short metres from Praza do Obradoiro. It houses all pilgrim services. This is where the Pilgrim’s Office is located and the Compostela is issued. Opened in October 2015
Origins and evolution
The hermit Paio discovers the tomb in the decade of the 820s
At an imprecise moment in the 820-830 decade, the tomb of Santiago the Elder was discovered. Alfonso II reigned in the north west of the Peninsula (the Kingdom of Asturias). He was the first great patron. He had been brought up in the Monastery of Samos and received the news from the Bishop of Iria, Teodomiro, enthusiastically.
Santiago was quickly consolidated as an international centre of pilgrimage
The golden age of the pilgrimages occurred in these centuries: France, Italy, central and eastern Europe, England, Germany, including Iceland, and, of course, all of Hispania. They arrived on foot, on horseback, on ships, etc
The pilgrimages soon became the true backbone of Europe
The Romanic, the Gothic cathedrals, the medieval lyrical poetry of the “cantigas” and the epic poetry of the “chanson de geste”. has played a key role in the development of the cultures which make up the European identity.
A Jubilee Year is celebrated whenever July 25 falls on a Sunday
The creation of the Holy Year in Santiago goes back to the XV century. It is believed that the first one in history could have been the Jubilee Year of 1428, or perhaps 1434, both convened by Archbishop Lope de Mendoza. The next will be in 2021.