the del Norte/Primitivo route.
Spain: From Irun to Santiago de Compostela, 500 miles.
Post 9; June 8, 2016, Wednesday. Five days til we go.
Who is St. James?
In the Camino sense, St. James is described as . . . the Apostle St. James the Great, whose remains are buried in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the Province of Galicia in Northwestern Spain. He is the brother of John, “the beloved disciple.” James is the patron saint of Spain and is often identified as “Santiago.” The Feast Day of St. James is celebrated on July 25th each year, (and I shall be there). So, for centuries, pilgrims have taken up one of the many routes to travel to this Cathedral which is, in essence, a shrine to honor St. James. Indeed, that is my destination, for very personal reasons. On my 2014 Camino I learned a lot about St. James, and on this Camino, I will also learn a lot about him, but, as with all Caminos, the journey is really about discovery on so many levels. You don’t learn a lot on the Camino, you discover a lot. There is a place to learn, and a place to discover. I agree with Joan Manuel Serrat in his song, Cantares, walk the Camino . . . undefined. (More on that song later.)
St. James was one of Jesus’ original twelve apostles, and tradition has it that he was the first to be martyred; he was decapitated by Herod Agrippa in 44AD. And so, in many ways, this is where the story of the Camino de Santiago begins. The “legend” is that after James’s death, his remains were carried by boat to northern Spain where he was buried on what is now the site of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Then . . . almost eight centuries pass, until the hermit Pelayo discovers the bones of St. James. The Way, the pilgrims way, can take many routes to get to Santiago and tradition has it that it usually started at one’s home and ended at the pilgrimage site. The Francés route, the route I took in 2014, is certainly considered one of the main routes. To me, it seems to be the main route.
For my own notes, I must mention that this St. James of the Camino, is not James, the half-brother of Jesus, and the author of the Book of James in the Bible. I don’t want to get confused here. James, the half-brother of Jesus was not a follower of Jesus during the Savior’s time on earth, but eventually became a disciple of Jesus in the vein of Paul who had seen the Lord (I suppose that’s obvious as to James, being the brother of Jesus) and became a believer post resurrection.
Guide books, such as the Perazzoli/Whitson book The Northern Caminos, and legend and more items for me to study indicate that James did his best to bring the teachings of Jesus to Spain (the Iberian Peninsula). Historians indicate he didn’t do so well, and finally on his return to the Holy Land, Herod Agrippa had James killed. And then of course are the stories of how James appeared at just the right time to fight for the Christian army during the incredible battle of Clavijo (incredible, because, well, it may be fictional; mercy! I have much to read) and was thereafter referred to as “Santiago Matamoros,” Saint James the Moor-slayer. So, often in museums and, of course Paradors, Monasteries and Churches, you often see paintings of Saint James the Moor-slayer.
Well, I shall have a lot more on this to write later. For now, I have a Camino to plan, at least a little. Because, the Camino also seems to plan you.
. . .