History of the Camino de Santiago

History of the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago is considered a historic pilgrimage route since a hermit named Paio found the remains of the Apostle Santiago el Mayor, in Galicia, around the year 830. For more than 10 years, our Travel agency of the Camino de Santiago We have been designing travel packages with all the necessary services for the comfort and enjoyment of pilgrims.

ORIGIN OF THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

The history of the Camino de Santiago relates that the first pilgrimages were born in the Middle Ages as a Christian pilgrimage to the tomb of Santiago de Zebedeo, also known as Santiago el Mayor, one of the main Apostles of Jesus Christ. The legend tells us that, once he was beheaded by order of Herod, in the year 44 of our era, his remains were transferred by his disciples, from Palestine to a place located in Gallaecia (current Galician community), in a "Stone boat" where, after multiple adversities, transfers and vicissitudes, they rest inside a wooden urn embossed in silver, located under the Main altar of the Cathedral of Santiago, along with his disciples Atanasio and Teodoro.

James the Elder was the brother of John the Baptist, both sons of Zebedee, forming part of the twelve apostles who accompanied Jesus Christ. Once the Lord died, he was on pilgrimage in Roman Hispania, where the Virgin Mary appeared to him on two occasions, in Muxía (Galicia) and in Zaragoza, to encourage him in his evangelizing mission.

Since then, Santiago de Compostela together with Rome and Jerusalem, constitute the three Holy places of Pilgrimage in the world of Christianity.

In the place where the remains of the Apostle SantiagoA first church was built, which after numerous extensions over the centuries, became what is now the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

road to santiago map

THE FIRST PILGRIM IN THE HISTORY OF THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

Officially the tomb of the Apostle Santiago is discovered in the XNUMXth century, when the Bishop of Iría Flavia, Teodomiro, communicates it to the Asturian King Alfonso II, the Chaste, who begins the first pilgrimage in history and orders the construction of a temple on the old necropiles that later will become the current Cathedral of Santiago.

In 834, the aforementioned king, together with his court, made a pilgrimage from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela, in what we know today as Primitive Way, becoming the first known pilgrim on this route. For all this, the city of Oviedo would represent the true kilometer zero of all the Caminos de Santiago.

In this way, the pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle Santiago began, from France, Italy, England and the Germanic Empire, mainly through the northern part of Spain, since much of the Spanish territory was dominated by Muslims who they had invaded the Iberian Peninsula.

EVOLUTION OF PILGRIMAGES TO THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

The Jacobean pilgrimages were a complex phenomenon, in which there were fundamentally religious and also economic motivations.

As the reconquest progressed and the different peninsular territories were consolidated, other pilgrimage routes were incorporated, mainly the so-called French Way, so called because, for the most part, it was the French who came to Santiago. Likewise, other important pilgrimage routes were incorporated and consolidated, to a lesser extent, such as the English Way, starting in La Coruña and Ferrol and the Portuguese Way, starting in Lisbon or Porto.

Like gunpowder, the Jacobean fervor spread throughout the continent, mainly in the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, where it reached its peak. As a result of this phenomenon, numerous infrastructures were undertaken and established, along the different Roads, in order to facilitate the pilgrim's accommodation, healthcare, river crossing, roads in good condition, churches and maintenance that you need.

Pilgrimages to the Camino de Santiago

BIRTH OF RELIGIOUS ORDERS AND NEW CITIES

This was largely taken care of by the religious orders that settled along this Way, mainly the Order of Cluny, originally from France, all with the protection and favors of the respective kings of Navarra, Castilla y León, among which it is worth mentioning Sancho Ramírez, Fernando I and Alfonso VI.

This fact led to the creation of new cities and towns or a notable increase in their populations, along the different roads that reached Santiago through the Peninsula, mainly on the French Way, because many pilgrims settled in them, as well as other people from the repopulation of the territories reconquered from the Muslims.

Examples of some of these cities are: Boadilla del Camino, Redecilla del Camino, Hornillos del Camino, Villadangos.

Due to the large number of existing pilgrims, they had to establish standards for their protection, given the proliferation of highwaymen along the route, and religious / military Orders were created for this purpose, such as the Order of Santiago or the Templar to protect the pilgrims on the roads.

Before his departure, the pilgrim was given documents / letters of recommendation by the civil and religious authorities for such assistance to be provided.

pilgrimage to the road to Santiago

THE WAY OF SANTIAGO IN THE MIDDLE AGES

In certain years, between two hundred thousand and five hundred thousand people made the Camino, in the Middle Ages, so it became an impressive “mass movement”; in many localities on the Camino there were more "pilgrim passersby" than the local inhabitants themselves.

In the Compostela Chronicle, it was said that between 1121 and 1124, the Emir Ali Ben Yusuf, stated: "So many is the multitude of those who come and go that they barely leave the road that goes to the West free"

MOTIVATIONS TO DO THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

In the first centuries of the pilgrimage in the history of the Camino de Santiago, the fundamental motive of the person who made the pilgrimage to Santiago was the religious faith they professed and this fact was valued and considered by the rest of the population. Subsequently, there were people who made the pilgrimage "on behalf" of others, since they could not do it, out of gratitude, before the achievement of a grace or request that they believed that the Apostle had granted them, by penance or as a penalty imposed by the authorities.

The vast majority of pilgrims made the entire WalkBoth the outward journey and the return to their country, but depending on their economic power, such as kings, nobles or prelates of the church did it, either on horseback or in a carriage, accompanied by an entourage and servants. Those from Northern Europe or England, did it by boat to the Spanish coasts and from there, on foot to Santiago de Compostela.

There is documentary evidence that the Year 1126 would be the First Holy Year in the history of the Camino de Santiago, established by Pope Calixto II, and by which "plenary indulgence or pardon" was granted to all pilgrims who made their pilgrimage in the Years in which the Feast of Santiago fell on Sunday, a fact that occurs with a frequency of 6-5-6-11 years. This fact would increase the number of pilgrims who would make their Way in the following Holy Years.

DECLINE, DECAY, DECADENCE, DOWNGRADE

The XNUMXth century and part of the XNUMXth century, for religious reasons (Protestant Reformation, split of the Catholic Church established by the theses of Martin Luther) and due to the wars that occurred in France, produced a clear decline in pilgrimages to Santiago and They created other types of pilgrims, in which faith and devotion did not predominate as the main motive for making their Way, but begging and wandering.

Another period of regression of pilgrimages occurred as a consequence of the current of thought that occurred, on the occasion of the French Revolution and in Spain, with the confiscation of Mendizábal, which led to the seizure of numerous possessions from the Spanish Church.

We had to wait until the second half of the 1982th century, when the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela had a remarkable take off, whose catapult was the visit of Pope John Paul II, in 2010 and, later that of Pope Benedict XVI, in the year XNUMX.

clothing-camino-santiago

APOGEO OF THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

It was in the 1993 Holy Year, when 93.000 people made the pilgrimage to Santiago, a figure that had not been reached for many years and that, year after year, the number of pilgrims has increased, until Year 2019 that the figure of about 350.000 "Compostelas" was reached and delivered in the Pilgrim Service Office of Santiago de Compostela.

DISTINCTIONS IN THE HISTORY OF THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

Proof of this social phenomenon, which transcends beyond borders, are the numerous distinctions and Awards with which "El Camino" has been distinguished, among which we cite the most important or most significant:

  • In 1985, it was awarded, by UNESCO, the qualification of "World Heritage Site"
  • In 1987, the Council of Europe designated it as the "First European Cultural Itinerary"
  • In 1993, UNESCO granted the "French Way" the qualification of "World Heritage". Being since then the Camino de Santiago organized from Sarria the most traveled and popular road.
  • In 1998, UNESCO granted the qualification of "World Heritage Site" to the Roads that come from France and that join the French or Aragonese Way, in Spain and the Portuguese Way.
  • In 2004, he was awarded the "Prince of Asturias Award for Concord"
  • In 2015, UNESCO granted the qualification of "World Heritage Site" to the Northern Roads (Coastal Path, Primitive Path, Lebaniego Path and Basque-Riojano Inland Path)

EUROPE BUILT WALKING TO SANTIAGO

The influence of the history of the Camino de Santiago was reflected in the formation of the germ of a common European identity, both in the economic, cultural, artistic and social fields due to the people who settled, emigrated and expanded ideas, along with length of it.

The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela contributed in a fundamental way to the formation of Europe, mainly in the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. This is the reason why it is stated that "Europe was built by walking to Santiago" and that, as of today, we consider it in full swing and constant growth.

The experts and scholars of the "Jacobean Theme", throughout the history of the Camino de Santiago, hold different arguments and theories about the possible veracity of the fact, as there is no definitive and conclusive evidence, as in other matters of diverse nature, what matters is the faith and beliefs of each one. What is certain is that, according to Christian tradition, when an apostle died, they tried to bury him in the area where he had been on pilgrimage.

It was the Papal Bull of Leo XIII, dating from 1884, which definitively confirmed that the remains found in the Cathedral of Santiago correspond to the Apostle Santiago and his disciples.

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