The Way of St. James

After the death of Jesus Christ, Tiago Maior took on the mission of spreading and spreading and the “Word of God”, in the westernmost territory of Europe.

When he preached in the region of Zaragoza, he dreamed that Pedro, another apostle, asked him to return to Palestine. Following the message that the dream had brought him, Tiago then returned to the Holy Land between the years 43 and 44. With his arrival in Judea, Tiago was accused of spreading false ideas and consequently beheaded. At the time, it was a ritual practice to throw the corpse of those executed out of the city walls as a form of contempt, to be eaten by wild animals. However, Tiago's body was rescued by Teodoro and Atanásio, who later fled in a vessel.

According to the legend, a vessel guided by an angel, crossed the Mediterranean, passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and the coast of Lusitania, until reaching Padrón, in Galicia. A place called Liberum Donum (where Santiago is today) was given to the two apostles, to bury Tiago Maior. The two evangelizers settled there, watching over the tomb and paying homage to James. This veneration quickly spread to the knowledge of people near and far, and thus began a period of pilgrimage to the place where the remains of James were said to be.

Years later, Emperor Vespasian forbade veneration of James' tomb, as well as other Christian practices, which eroded devotion to the apostle as a result of such a prohibition, the place having been abandoned and overtaken by vegetation.

The site of Santiago's tomb remained forgotten until the 9th century. At the beginning of this century, a hermit named Pelayo, who lived near Liberum Donum, claimed to have “heard a heavenly song; he looked at the sky and saw that it was full of stars that formed a path that came from the north of the east to the place where he was ”. Pelayo reported what happened to the bishop of the neighboring city Iria Flávia and he decided to start a search for Tiago's tomb. In that search, next to the ruins of a chapel, they found Santiago's grave.

In turn, the bishop informed the king of Asturias, Alfonso II of this finding. The King, enthusiastic about the news, proclaimed Liberum Donum, as Locus Beati Jacobi (place of Saint James) and ordered the construction of a cathedral in the place where the ruins were found. And it was around this new construction that a settlement gradually emerged, which came to be called Santiago do Campo das Estrelas or, as it is known today, Santiago de Compostela.

Thus, the Compostela site begins to attract pilgrims from all over the country, and due to the paths taken by pilgrims, different itineraries begin to be outlined. These are the paths that make up the entire Path. And so, over the years, hospitals, cemeteries, bridges, churches, monasteries and new settlements were built around these routes, thus building a “historical and artistic legacy so important that it is still impossible to assess it”.

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