Santiago de Compostela


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The Saint, City, and Cathedral from its origins to modern day, with a heavy emphasis on the Medieval era.

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Santiago de Compostela

  1. 2. <ul><li>Son of Zebedee and one of the twelve Apostles, St. James the Greater held a special place even among Jesus’ close friends. He was included in the small group allowed to witness the raising of Jairus' daughter along with John, his brother, and Peter. Also, when Jesus ascended the mountain to pray, Jesus asked St. James to accompany him. </li></ul>After the death of Jesus in A.D. 31, St. James traveled to Saragossa in Northeastern Spain on a mission to convert the Muslims to Christianity. He had little success, but during his stay the Virgin Mary appeared to him in a vision. She reassured him, gave him a pillar of jasper and small wooden statue of herself, and commissioned him to build a church in the place where the vision occurred. The gifts she gave were to be placed in the church. St. James was able to build a small chapel, around which bishops built centuries later when constructing the basilica.
  2. 3. <ul><li>In the vision St. James received from Mary, she bade him return to Jerusalem. However, when he returned, Kind Herod had him beheaded and his body tossed outside the walls without burial. Thus he became the first Christian martyr. </li></ul>The beheading of St. James in Jerusalem, from a 19 th century artist. That night, two of St. James’ disciples stole the body and escaped to Spain. By some accounts these men had a boat prepared, but did not have a destination in mind. Instead, they let divine providence guide the boat to where God wanted St. James to be buried. This version of the story tells of a seven day journey that covered over 3000 statute miles. In a more historical version, the two men buried St. James in Palestine. In A.D. 550, Emperor Justinian gave the bones as relics to the monastery on Mt. Sinai, but the monks moved them when the Arabs conquered Palestine in A.D. 700. Whether God or the Disciples guided the boat, they landed in Galicia in Northwestern Spain. Here a pious woman donated the land and money to build a tomb over which she placed an altar to designate the resting place of the bones. There are two other graves on the site, which are assumed to be occupied by the disciples who rescued the body.
  3. 4. <ul><li>During the Middle Ages, with the surge of strong support from the clergy and in faith that accompanied the Crusades, the spiritual pilgrimage became the single greatest adventure a person could have. Pilgrims would give up their livelihood, embark on a journey that could take years and that they might never return from, and put their fate in the hands of God. Pilgrimages included an ascetic component; to carry money or material possessions on a pilgrimage was sinful. A pilgrim could take refuge for free from the road in monasteries, convents, or hostels specifically designed for pilgrims in exchange for prayers. </li></ul><ul><li>There were three main Christian pilgrimage sites during the Middle Ages: Jerusalem, Rome, and Santiago de Compostela. As one of the few sites that preserved the entirety of the saint’s remains, St. James the Greater’s tomb became the most visited Christian pilgrimage sites in the West, and the final destination along the Camino de Santiago. </li></ul>The Camino de Santiago , or Way of St. James. Most pilgrims completed the journey solely on foot. Pilgrims would travel for several reasons, including punishment for crimes, to fulfill a vow, or because they desired a miraculous cure.
  4. 5. On their journeys, Christian pilgrims generally followed the paths depicted above.The paths highlighted in blue are the four most traveled paths, with the path highlighted in red showing where they converged to form the Way of St. James, or the final leg of the journey. Pilgrims still use the paths today. Picture from the Daniel en Santiago Blog .
  5. 6. A panoramic view of the city with the Cathedral in the background. The city of Santiago de Compostela grew around the site of St. James’ tomb. In A.D. 813 Bishop Theodomir re-discovered the tomb, which had been forgotten during the Arab raids in the previous centuries. Bright lights, supposedly stars, guided him to the site which led him to name the place “compostela,” a condensation of the Spanish phrase “campo de las estrellas” or “field of the stars.” Around A.D. 830 Alfonso II ordered the building of a small basilica over the site of the tomb, and by A.D. 844 it was already a pilgrimage site. By the end of the century, Alfonso III added a basilica in the same location over the baptistery. At the end of the tenth century, the Arabs attacked, destroying the basilica and carrying off the church bells to Córdoba (they returned them later). Instead of repairing it, in A.D. 1078 Bishop Don Diego Peláez commissioned the building of a grand cathedral which took over 100 years to build and made Santiago the climax of the medieval pilgrimage.
  6. 7. Obradioro Plaza, outside the Cathedral, was the area where pilgrims bought the traditional pewter or tin shell souvenirs of St. James. The plaza is still a leading tourist attraction and continues to sell souvenirs, now of a much larger, and more commercial, variety. Since the finding of the tomb a small settlement, composed mostly of clergy, has existed in Galicia. The population began to grow as more and more pilgrims began to travel to Santiago de Compostela, and the area gradually developed into a city. Pope Alexander III declared the city a Holy Town in the 12 th and 13 th centuries, and Pope Calixto II deemed that any pilgrim who traveled to Santiago de Compostela in a Holy Year would be absolved of all his or her sins. Today many pilgrims still travel to the city using the Camino de Santiago, though like most historical places of renown it has developed elements of tourism that coexist along with the religious.
  7. 8. <ul><li>Architects </li></ul><ul><li>Baptistery of A.D. 830: unknown; overseen by Bishop Alfonso II </li></ul><ul><li>Basilica of A.D. 896: unknown; overseen by Alfonso III </li></ul><ul><li>Cathedral of A.D. 1078: contested; overseen by Bishop Don Diego Peláez </li></ul><ul><li>The records concerning the design of the cathedral mention two Latin names, Bernardus Senex (Senior) and Robertus. The latter may have been French or Sicilian, but history lends no other information towards his identity. The former possibly refers to Bernardo Gutiérrez, a French or Spanish architect who is noted as managing the treasury and helping to oversee the construction. </li></ul><ul><li>Various artists have made additions and repairs to the cathedral over the centuries, which has resulted in the use of many different architectural styles combined into one building. </li></ul>Early Versions The original shrine reflected the popular Romano-Hellenistic architectural style of the time, though no remnants remain. The baptistery, round with a small baptismal font in the center, was most likely of the common style of the ninth century consisting of field stone set in clay and possibly having a wooden roof.
  8. 9. Early Architecture, Continued The basilica was built in the Austurian style, a modest design that had an oriental feel to it. Though only 175 and 170 feet wide feet long, at the time it equaled the size of two churches put end to end. This type of architecture had some similarities to Western design, but mainly came from the Near East. This style utilized cut stone for the foundation as well as lime and marble for the pillars. The main structure would have been made of recycled stone and marble. There are many architectural incongruities concerning the basilica, as many of the documents regarding the layout seem to describe impossible designs when compared to the remaining foundations. However, from assumptions and comparisons to other churches of the time, historians have been able to discern that the basilica had A floor plan from San Martin de Fromista, similar to the basilica Alfonso III built. three altars, one for the Holy Savior, one for St. Peter, and one for St. John the Apostle. The two lesser altars had compartments for themselves at the ends of side aisles. There were small marble columns that could indicate iconostasis, but no other proof has surfaced.
  9. 10. This grand Baroque front was mostly incomplete during the Middle Ages. There were many interruptions in construction along the way, including a period from A.D. 1088 – 1095 when construction halted altogether.
  10. 11. Built on a small hill , the cathedral reflects the flowering of art in the late 11 th century. Despite the Baroque façade, the majority of the cathedral is done in a Romanesque style, giving it an almost “precocious” feeling. A gothic tallness of proportion gives the interior a comfortable majesty. The cathedral is built in a basic cruciform design, with a very long transverse arm and chapels radiating from the nave at the end. The Episcopal palace lies to the North, while the cloister and offices are to the South. Nine towers surround the building. There were originally 111 windows that allowed the cathedral to be lit by the Spanish sun, but over the years many have been obscured by renovations. The majority of the cathedral consists of hard brown granite that, when exposed to sunlight, turns from a soft color to a pleasant gray. Pilgrims from Trascastela also brought limestone with them that workers mixed with mortar and cut stone to form parts of the building. A large part of the interior is stucco, as there is very little heavily detailed artwork.
  11. 12. Below: P órtico de la Gloria. Considered the most majestic piece of Medieval art, Maestro Mateo carved it in A.D. 1188 as the original Western front. It was moved to the interior when the Gothic front was added. Left: Adam and Eve on the Puerta de las Platerias (Goldsmiths' Doorway),12th century carving.
  12. 13. Above: Relics of St. James as they are today underneath the altar in the Cathedral. Below: the Gothic-style altar. A statue of St. James stands on the altar (center). The large Botefumeiro that hangs from the ceiling is so heavy that it takes seven to eight men to swing when dispensing incense.
  13. 14. The Austurian style applied to the basilica of the late ninth century was also reflected in other churches of the time.  Sta. Maria de Naranco (A.D. 848) Sta. Cristina de Lena  (A.D. 905) The cathedral built in the 11 th century shares certain aspects with other western cathedrals. <ul><li>St. Fulbert’s, Chartres, France </li></ul><ul><li>Tall spires </li></ul><ul><li>Buttresses and façade </li></ul><ul><li>Cloister </li></ul>
  14. 15. Pilgrimage Churches <ul><li>Of the five Medieval pilgrimage churches, only Santiago de Compostela was not an abbey. Due to its importance, Santiago de Compostela served as the center of the diocese, but the four other pilgrimage churches held other important relics that attracted a number of visitors themselves. Like Santiago de Compostela, they are also named after the relics that they possess. </li></ul>The abbey of St. Martial in Limoges, France was destroyed in the 19 th century and only a handful of manuscripts from the library survive.  St. Foy at Conques St. Martin at Tours  St. Sernin at Toulous 
  15. 16. Today many Christians still make pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. Some travel by modern means such as plane and car, but others continue to use the paths pilgrims have traversed since the Middle Ages. These roads are maintained and pilgrims can hire a guide to accompany them. Catholic mass is still held in the cathedral, and is open to the public. Tourists can visit at no cost, but it is only open during certain hours.
  16. 17. Works Consulted - Photographs <ul><li>“ Altar de la Catedral de Santiago de Compostela.” (Image) Panoramio . (29 October 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Beheading of St. James, The.” (Image). St. James Episcopal Church. (October 28, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Cathedral Interior, Santiago de Compostela.” (Image) flickr . (October 29, 2009). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Farm View of Sta. Cristina.” (Image) flickr . (October 29, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Floor Plan.” (Image) dkimages. (October 29, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Floor Plan of the Cathedral.” (Images). Reflections on Spain’s St. James and His Way. (October 29, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ James the Great (anon).” (Image) Discover Jesus and the Urantia Book. (October 28, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Kathedral von Chartres.” (Image) Wikimedia . h ttp:// (October 29, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oviedo Sta. Maria de Naranco.” (Image) Wikimedia . (October 29, 2008) </li></ul>
  17. 18. Works Consulted - Photographs <ul><li>“ Panoramic of Santiago de Compostela.” (Image) Virtual Tourist. (October 29, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Pilgrim Route.” (Image) Europe in the U.K. (October 29, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Plaza del Obradioro.” (Image) Galen Fry Singer , (October 29, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Spain: Santiago de Compostela, Obradoiro . ” (Image). Wikimedia Commons: Fachada do Obradoiro, Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. (October 28, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ St. Foy at Conques.” (Image) Cartage Library . (October 29, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ St. Jacques Compostelle.” (Image). Daniel en Santiago . (October 28, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ St. Martin.” (Image) Wikimedia. h ttp://,_les_tours_de_l'%C3%A9glise_St.Martin.jpg (October 29, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ St. Sernin.” (Image) Tourism in Toulouse. (October 29, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>Images on pages 10, 12, 13 and 16 can be found on the “Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela” article on Sacred Destinations . </li></ul>
  18. 19. Works Consulted <ul><li>“ Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.” Sacred Destinations. 2008. (29 October 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>Conant, Kenneth John. The Architectural History of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1926. </li></ul><ul><li>Foley, Leonard. “St. James the Greater.” The American Catholic. 2008. (29 October 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ History and Legends.” All About Spain. 2008. (29 October 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>Rudolph, Conrad. Pilgrimage to the End of the World: the Road to Santiago de Compostela. Chicago: U Chicago, 2004. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Santiago de Compostela City Guide – History.” World Travel Guide. 2008. (29 October 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>“ St. James the Greater.” Catholic Online. 2008. (29 October 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>van Beest, C.W. Van Voorst. Pilgrimages . London: Lutherworth P, 1975. </li></ul><ul><li>Webb, Diana. Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in the Medieval West. New York: St. Martin’s, 2001. </li></ul>