Saint James, Apostle, chosen among the first. You were the first to drink the Cup of the Master and you are the great protector of pilgrims; make us strong in faith and happy in hope on our pilgrim journey following the path of Christian life and sustain us so that we may finally reach the glory of God the Father. Amen.
The Way of Saint James, First European Cultural Itinerary and World Heritage Site, is one the oldest and most important Christian pilgrimage routes. Since the discovery of the sepulchre of the Apostle Saint James, countless pilgrims have set off towards Compostela to worship his relics. This has given way to a whole Saint James culture throughout Europe.
The Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela
Pilgrimaging is a common rite in most religions. Santiago is one of the three important pilgrimage cities of Christianity, alongside Jerusalem and Rome. When European Christians saw that their faith was threatened by the advance of Islam, they asserted it by pilgrimaging to the recently discovered Sepulchre of the Apostle Saint James, in the 9th century. This is how, step by step, routes that led to Santiago were created, thus establishing a type of union between the different European countries and regions. The 12th and 13th centuries were the golden age of pilgrimages to Santiago. Later, during the Renaissance and Reformation, the Saint James phenomenon suffered attacks, but it managed to survive, albeit with a lower influx of pilgrims. The Bull by Pope León XIII "Deus Omnipotens", which verified the authenticity of the apostle's relics, represented a renewed impetus for the Saint James pilgrimage, which grew during the 20th century until the present, when pilgrimaging is strong and on the rise.
The pilgrimage to Santiago takes us to the Tomb of an Apostle, one of the twelve who were part of Christ's intimate circle and who was responsible for the evangelization of Hispania, that is to say, he transmitted the original faith received from Jesus.
There are different pilgrimage routes to Santiago. Traditionally, pilgrims left their home to arrive at the “House of Saint James”, the Cathedral, and therefore it would be difficult to establish all the possible pilgrimage routes. The Way of Saint James is not an end in itself, but a means of arriving at the destination: the Tomb of Saint James. However, it can be said that there are several major and traditional routes that receive the greatest flow of pilgrims:
>The French Way
The route that is most used today and which enters the Peninsula through Roncesvalles, passing through Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, León, Astorga, Ponferrada, and entering Galicia through O Cebreiro.
>The Northern Way
It borders the Cantabrian coast, passing through Irún, San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Gijón, Avilés and entering Galicia through Ribadeo.
>The Primitive Way
It begins in Oviedo and leads pilgrims to Santiago through the interior of Asturias, passing through Lugo and joining the Northern Way and the French Way in its final stage.
>The English Way
Thus known due to the flow of pilgrims from the British Isles, who travelled by sea and landed in A Coruña or Ferrol and from there continued on foot.
>The Portuguese Way
Passes through different routes in Portugal (interior and coast) until it enters Galicia through Tui.
>The Vía de la Plata
Begins in Seville and passes through Mérida and Zamora, entering Galicia through Ourense.
The pilgrimage needs to be prepared from different angles: the physical, the spiritual and also by collecting information. This can be obtained from the Pilgrim's Office, at the Bishoprics, in the Saint James Brotherhoods, and at the Friends of The Way Associations, where former pilgrims and people involved in pilgrimaging provide interesting information and practical advice.
ARRIVAL AND STAY IN SANTIAGO