May 3, 2005

More Camino History.....

The guide is a translation from Spanish of the work of Elias Valifla Sampedro (1929-1989), who was parish priest of 0 Cebreiro and Doctor of Canon Law of the University of Salamanca, a Scholar and an expert on Compostelan studies. The priest devoted his life to the study of the pilgrimage to Compostela and this is reflected in his book.
This new Pilgrim's Guide incorporates the results of thirty years of research and of countless personal journeys along the Camino de Santiago. The maps, drawn to scale, are a clear expression of the current situation of the Camino. The format of the Guide and the organisation of its contents are the results of the desire to meet several objectives. The material is divided into four parts: a preliminary section and three others: the guide to the route, with maps, directions for the walker and a succinct commentary; historical and cultural notes on places of particular interest; and a final section on accommodation, associations, etc.

This guide will help the pilgrim to make his journey safely and in the true spirit of the pilgrimage. The size and ease of handling of this volume are also considered to be improvements over the author's earlier guides, and incorporate the suggestions made by pilgrims since 1985.

The discovery of the tomb of the apostle St James was one of the most important events of the Middle Ages. The great pilgrimages to Compostela brought together, and had a vital influence on, a number of different aspects of society: art, religion, and economic and cultural life. The influence of the pilgrimage was not confined to a specific period; it went beyond the boundaries of the Middle Ages, extending its vitality into succeeding centuries.

The pilgrimage to Compostela is the great legacy of medieval Christianity, left to us by a Europe composed of diverse populations, united by the common principles of faith and devotion. The phenomenon of the pilgrimage to "Finis Terrae", "the World's End", and to the tomb of the apostle St James, grew spontaneously from the grass roots; from the common folk who, disregarding social distinction or national borders, did much to further unity and fraternity among peoples.

Compostela was transformed to become, together with Rome and Jerusalem, one of the three great centres of pilgrimage of the Christian world. Rome itself witnessed with some misgivings of the height reached by the see of Compostela as its ascendancy grew, due to the increase in pilgrimages. The ambassador of the Moorish sultan Ah ben Yusuf wrote "The multitude of those going -to Santiago- and returning is so great that there is scarcely any room on the westward road..." Who Went on Pilgrimage? Gotescalco, bishop of Le Pay, is one of the earliest pilgrims of whom we have any record. He went to Compostela in the year 950, at the head of a vast retinue. Cesareo, abbot of Montserrat, made the pilgrimage in 959. Tn 1065 a large group of pilgrims from Lieige reached Compostela. The Count of Guines and the bishop of Lille were pilgrims to Compostela in 1084.

In the 11th century the number of pilgrims increased very markedly, drawn without distinction from all classes of European society. In 1072 Alfonso VI abolished the toll payable to the castle of Auctares, situated near the point where the Camino entered Galicia, and made over the money in favour of the pilgrims who went to Compostela, from Spain, France, Italy and Germany". The 12th century marked the height of the pilgrimages. Pope Calixtus II was himself a great supporter. The French priest from Poitou, Aymeric Picaud, has left us the valuable account of his pilgrimage to Compostela in the form of a collection of documents relating to St James, which he, for the glory of the apostle, attributed to Pope Calixtus II. It is for this reason that the collection is known as the "Codex Calixtinus". Among the vast number of pilgrims we frequently find distinguished travellers: bishops, kings, magnates, the rich and the saints. St Francis of Assisi himself made his pilgrimage.

Among the pilgrims were those who began their journeys out of real devotion, others who went as the delegates of cities, towns or individuals, and neither was there any lack of those who took the Way of St James in the fulfilment of a judicial punishment. How They Made the Journey Pilgrims generally travelled in-groups for mutual protection. Gathering at the departure point -ArIes, Le Pay, Vezelay, Paris, etc- they made their farewell to the town with a solemn act of devotion, receiving, blessed, the attributes or tokens of pilgrimage: broad hats to protect them from the sun, the cloak to counter cold and rain, the satchel for food, the gourd for water and the staff for defence and support over rough ground. The scallop shell, which the pilgrims wore soon, became the symbol of the Jacobean pilgrimage. Holy Years The privilege of the Compostelan Holy Year dates from the papacy of Calixtus II, the great devotee of St James. Holy Years occur when the feast day of the apostle -25 July- falls on a Sunday.

The Compostela Those who claimed to be true pilgrims, and could prove that they were not rascals or vagabonds, were permitted to stay at the great pilgrim Hospital de Los Reyes Catolicos (the hospital of the Catholic Monarchs, built by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1496) This tradition still exists. If you want to re-enact it, you should carry the "pilgrim passport" or any other document showing the signatures or stamps of parishes, municipalities or monasteries to prove the distance you have covered. When you arrive in Santiago, go to the office of the Secretary of the Cathedral. When he has verified your pilgrim passport, he will give you your 'Compostela", or certificate of pilgrimage, and any advice or help you may need. The Routes to Compostela True pilgrims have always followed the routes leading to two points of entry via the Roman roads through the western Pyrexes: the route of the Port de CIE (Ibaneta), which gave access to the major route from Bordeaux to Astorga, or the Somport route, which linked Bordeaux and Dax with Jaca and Zaragoza.

In the early years of the pilgrimage, the Camino underwent various modifications. The retreat of the Arab invaders and the formation of several new kingdoms contributed to this. Sancho the Great in Navarre (995-1035), Alfonso VI in Castile and Leon (1065-I lt)9) and Sancho Ramirez in Navarre and Aragon (1076-1094) helped to determine for once and for all the pilgrims' route to Compostela. Aymeric Picaud made his pilgrimage along the -by then- well-defined route early in the 12th century, leaving us his guidebook to the most interesting stages on the historic road. a) The Routes through France The cities of Arles, El Pea, Vezelay and Paris or Orleans were the points of departure for the Jacobean routes through France. Pilgrims who followed the route from Arles via Toulouse and Oloron crossed the Pyrenees by way of the Somport Pass. The other three routes joined at a point close to Ostabat on the edge of the French Pyrenees, and ascended to the Cize Pass.

The Routes through Spain Aymeric Picaud described the two main access routes to Spain, via the passes of Somport and Cize. The book with maps. Shows the different itineraries which pilgrims have taken for more than a thousand years, to venerate the Apostle. The most famous of all these routes is that followed and described by Picaud, the cleric from Parthenay-le-Vieux, who after his pilgrimage wrote the exceptionally interesting five-volume work completed in about 1139, and which received the name of Codex Calixtinus". The fifth book, the Liber Sancti Jacobi" or "Book of St James", It is one with most relevance to us. It outlines the stages on the Camino with a valuable topographical summary, mentions pilgrim hospitals and places of refuge and assistance, describes the quality of the food and water encountered, and remarks sometimes less than charitably- on the characteristics of the people through whose lands the author passed.


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