Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 3 - Traveling with a body and a head

The following paragraph is taken directly from Wikipedia, which we all know is a completely reliable source! However accurate the information may or may not be, it gives us an introductory background to what I learned about the saint yesterday.

"According to ancient local tradition, on 2 January of the year AD 40, the Virgin Mary appeared to James on the bank of the Ebro River at Caesaraugusta, while he was preaching the Gospel in Iberia. She appeared upon a pillar, Nuestra Señora del Pilar, and that pillar is conserved and venerated within the present Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, in Zaragoza, Spain. Following that apparition, St James returned to Judea, where he was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I in the year 44."

So what happened to him after he was beheaded? Legend has it that Saint James's remains were brought back to Spain from Jeruselem on a ship and he was burried in what is today known as Santiago de Compostela. And I guess I now would be a good time to mention that Santiago is Spanish for Saint James...

As interesting as the whole story was, I got hung up on one particular detail. What would it be like to travel with a dead man and his head? What was that journey like? We can only imagine what it was like to collect a body thrown to the dogs, steal away with by boat, accross the Mediterranean, through the Straight of Gibraltar, and north to Galicia. After that, he would have had to have been brought inland to where Santiago de Compostela is located. That would have to be an extreme journey...

However true or not true the story is, it is an interesting one that makes Santiago de Compostela what it is today. Many people come to the city via the Camino de Santiago (St. James's Way) and the tourism of the city relies on the legend of Santiago.

As a side note, our tour guide informed us that the soil here in Galicia is too acidic to preserve bodies and that only by burying within stone could a body have been preserved... too bad for St. James... but good news for those who have killed someone! Or so said the tour guide!!!

Also, I swear, pics are coming soon!!!

Galego word of the day:
Church - Igrexa

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