1. Home ·

Article translated by an automatic translation system. Press here for further information.

Albor, splendor and decadence of the pilgrimage

King Alfonso II orders to build a simple church on the tomb and visitors to the tomb of the Apostle begin to arrive. In 844, another supernatural phenomenon would give the definitive back to the figure of Santiago as an incarnation of the Reconquista. On 23 May in Clavijo, near Logroño, King Ramiro I of Asturias faces the Muslim troops of Abphazán II at a clear numerical disadvantage.

In the midst of the battle, the apostle James appears a sword in hand to the loins of his famous white horse attacking the unbelievers. Christians defeat prognosis and the Jacobean myth definitely transcends the Pyrenees. The appeal of Santiago Matamoros is born. In the 10th century the pilgrimage to Compostela is a consolidated fact in Christianity. It is the time of the coastal road, safer than the time of the interior, exposed to the Arab correrias. It will be from the year 1000 when the pilgrimages to Santiago are popularized, as before the romers with Rome or the palm trees with Jerusalem. The monarchs understood that keeping the Camino free and expeditious was to ensure a route of vital economic, commercial and military importance to control its territory. There are two kings who will most support the Jacobean route: Navarro Sancho III el Mayor and Castilian Alfonso VI. The Camino provides a series of infrastructures (roads and bridges) and welfare places for the pilgrim. Fundamental in this field have been the hospital religious orders, among which Cluny stands out.

The first hatching in pilgrimages to Santiago occurs in the 11th and 12th centuries, coinciding with the splendor of Romanesque art. In 1122, Pope Calixto II proclaims Holy Year Jacobeo the year in which 25 July coincides on Sunday. Multitudes of people start coming from all parts of Europe giving a cosmopolitan touch to the cities through which the itinerary passes. The French Way is the most used and in these years thousands and thousands of pilgrims are observed by Roncesvalles, later with the conquest of Zaragoza the branch from Somport to Puente La Reina would be enabled. The old Roman roads from Bordeaux to Astorga, passing through Vitoria and Briviesca, and from Astorga to Iria Flavia serve as the basis for the Jacobean route and a large number of burgos and cities arise that host a new urban class of craftsmen and merchants, mostly French.

Since the 14th century the Camino is declining, the black death has decimated the European population, Christianity begins to divide (the Protestants considered pilgrimages as popular acts), the world widens and the monarchs dedicate their efforts to conquer new worlds. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries communications were improved and the Camino recovered some of the prestige and received illustrious pilgrims. However, in the nineteenth century, freethinkers, scientific discoveries, industrial revolution and urban development did not get along well with a way of life with medieval reminiscences. The crisis was so acute that in 1884 Pope Leo XIII had to declare true the remains of the Apostle reappeared in excavations (they had hidden in the 16th century in the face of the threats of the English incursions made by the pirate Francis Drake). Today the pilgrimage to Santiago seems to regain the splendor of yesteryear, and in 1985 UNESCO declared the Jacobean route as a World Heritage Site.