The headquarters of the Way of St James Chair kicks off its activity with a series of conferences with specialists from various universities

Santiago de Compostela, 4 September 2017

Today, the director of Turismo de Galicia, Nava Castro, presented the series of conferences that will be held at the headquarters of the Way of St James and Pilgrimages Chair, located in the new International Pilgrim Welcome Centre. This Chair is the most important academic project launched under the auspices of the Way of St James Master Plan and is a milestone in the study of the Jacobean phenomenon.

Accompanying Nava Castro were representatives from the two institutions that sponsor the Chair with the Board of Galicia: Almudena Hospido, Assistant Dean of Internationalisation at the  Universidad de Santiago, and Segundo Pérez, Dean of the Cathedral of Santiago. Also appearing with them were Domingo González Lopo, Director of the Chair and its co-director, Adeline Rucquoi.

“The enormous vitality of the Jacobean pilgrimage and its importance to our society, with a growing and increasingly international and diversified interest, made it more necessary than ever to have a Chair to delve into its roots from a scientific perspective,” noted the Director of Turismo de Galicia. She also said that the location of the chair was not coincidental, as it seeks to “tie academic activity with the daily activity” at the centre.

Scholarships, research contracts and seminars

The purpose of the Chair is to promote and disseminate knowledge on Jacobean topics, encouraging reflection and cultural debate and boosting its presence in academia. To this end, numerous initiatives will be carried out, in addition to the conferences, some of which are already underway, like courses, seminars, publications and the creation and maintenance of a documentary and bibliographic fund. The Chair also incentivises training and research scholarships and contracts, awards and competitions on senior-year projects involving the Way.

The talks start this very Monday at 8 pm with a presentation by Fernando Villaseñor, from the Universidad de Santander, on the topic of Iconography of St James in  Illustrated Books from the Late Middle Ages. A new presentation will be given each month through the year, as shown in the calendar below:

- 6 October: Raquel Alonso Álvarez, Universidad de Oviedo, with a talk on The Holy Chamber in the Cathedral of Oviedo. From 'thesaurus' to a sanctuary for pilgrimage.
- 7 November: Attilio Antonelli, Sopraintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti y Paesaggio per il Commune di Napoli (Italia), with A Royal and Pontifical Basilica of St James in Naples.
- 12 December: Marco Piccat, Universidad de Trieste (Italy), with a presentation on The Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the Lives of Medieval Saints.

“These conferences will open the way to the work that lies ahead for the Chair and that turns Santiago de Compostela not only into the end goal for the pilgrimage, but the heart of its study, from which we will encourage a knowledge of every route,” stated Nava Castro.

The Chair of the Way of St James and Pilgrimages is part of strategic area number eight of the Master Plan of the Way of St James, devoted to research, communication and dissemination of the Jacobean route, which , as Nava Castro noted, “identifies Galicia as a town of the world and provides a first-rate impetus for social, cultural and economic development.”

In memory of Robert Plötz

The International Committee of Experts on the Way of St James advises the Chair, which is why the director had some words of remembrance for Robert Plötz, who had been a member of this committee since it was created 25 years ago and who died recently. Nava Castro noted that the contributions made to Jacobean research by this German professor, who was himself a pilgrim, will occupy an essential space for researchers into these subjects.