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Camino Trivia

Mark McCarthy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014 2015
Lourdes 2 SdC 2016
Sarria 2 SdC April&Oct 2016 & (April 2018)
Camino Baztan June 2017
While on lockdown, I was wondering if we could start a daily post of Camino trivia (history and background). As a start here is some background on the monastery next to the wine fountain at Irache:
"The abbey at Irache was one of the oldest Benedictine monasteries in the world with its foundations believed to date back to the eigth century. The first formal records date the monastery back to 958. It first became a pilgrim's hostel in 1053 which is over a century before the pilgrim's hostel in Roncesvalles was founded. Between 1544 and 1824 the monastery was home to a university which in its prime rivalled the likes of Salamanca and Valladolid. The Benedictines vacated the monastery at the end of the First Carlist War in 1839. The monastery remained empty then till 1887 with the exception for a period during the Second Carlist War when it acted as a field hospital. From 1887 till 1984 the monastery acted as a seminary. In 1986 it came back in to state hands. In 2010 it was handed over to the Spanish Tourism Institute with the plan to turn it in to Parador (Paradors are state run 4 or 5 star hotels based in national monuments). Unfortunately, the transformation into a parador has not yet happened.
There has been a long tradition of generosity from this particular monastery dating back to its most famous and generous abbott San Veremundo. Among its kindest traditions, was the tradition that when a monk died, on top of all the masses and prayers offered for their deceased brother, that the monks would invite in and feed 30 poor people on the day after he died and that for the following 30 days they would invite in a poor person each meal time to feed them what would have been the dead monk's portion.

There has been a long tradition of generosity from this particular monastery dating back to its most famous and generous abbott San Veremundo. Among its kindest traditions, was the tradition that when a monk died, on top of all the masses and prayers offered for their deceased brother, that the monks would invite in and feed 30 poor people on the day after he died and that for the following 30 days they would invite in a poor person each meal time to feed them what would have been the dead monk's portion."

Please feel free to add any more background or historical trivia about the Camino.
 

Mark McCarthy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014 2015
Lourdes 2 SdC 2016
Sarria 2 SdC April&Oct 2016 & (April 2018)
Camino Baztan June 2017
Today's Camino trivia concerns the town of Los Arcos in Navarra "Los Arcos' strategic position on the River Odrón has meant there has been a settlement here since Roman times. Apart from five Roman tombs discovered at the entrance to the town, there is little known about its Roman history. The first documentation of Los Arcos details the capture of Los Arcos from the Moors by Sancho I in 914 six years after he had captured Monjardín. The town's name of Los Arcos dates from 1067 during the War of the three Sanchos (three Cousins each named Sancho who battled over land for each of their respective kingdoms of Navarra, Aragón and Castilla). The victorious King Sancho IV of Navarra was so impressed with the archers who had defended the town that he allowed two bows and arrows to be added to the coat of arms of the town and from this coat of arms came the new name Los Arcos (meaning "the bows").

The town's strategic position has been a mixed blessing with the town often being fought over during various wars. King Alfonso X of Castille and Leon captured the city from the King of Navarra in 1274. It was later returned to Navarra but was annexed again by Castilla in 1463 and wasn't returned again to Navarra till 1753. During the Napoleonic occupation Los Arcos was a centre of guerilla war but at great cost to the locals who lost 32 of the 104 volunteers who took up arms against the French. Less the twenty years later during the First Carlist War Los Arcos was the site of two battles. The first battle was in 1833 when the Carlists were defeated by the Queen's forces and again in 1835 when the Carlists successfully retook Los Arcos. During the Spanish Civil War 400 of Franco's Falangists based themselves in Los Arcos. On the 5th September 1936 10 inhabitants of Los Arcos, who had been prisoners in Estella were executed by firing squad in what appears to be an action designed purely to empty the overfilled prison in Estella. At many points across the Camino we encounter some of the terrible atrocities committed during the Spanish Civil War and the awful sadness of this time still echoes down the years."

Anybody else please feel free to share your own Camino Trivia.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Here's a bit of Camino trivia for folk. Most may know of the connection between the Camino and the French knight Roland. As you pass from France to Spain, you may notice "Roland's fountain" and Roncesvalles is, of course, famed as the location (more or less) of Roland's last stand, commemorated in the Chanson de Roland.

Less well known is the story of Roland's combat with the Saracen giant Farragut, who was invulnerable except for his navel. This story is in the Codex Calixtinus and Farragut also appears as Ferraù in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso.

You can see the joust between Roland and Farragut commemorated in stone in a prominent capital on one of the finest examples of civic Romanesque architecture on the Camino Frances, on the Palace of the Kings of Navarre in Estella.
1586895614277.png
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
Galicia and Asturias is where all the gold is! The great gold mines of Las Medulas near Ponferrada had been worked by the Romans for two hundred years until the gold began to become harder to get out of the earth. The Romans took 20,000 pounds of gold, using upwards of 50,000 free men as miners, each year out of Las Medulas. Incredible! We know from the writings of the Roman historian Pliny of the massive engineering project which they called ruina montium. Pliny describes the hydraulic mining process where water pressure opened up the narrow hand-dug tunnels. They built aqueducts at the site to deliver the water and to blow open the tunnels. It was an amazing feat of engineering on a massive scale.
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
While on lockdown, I was wondering if we could start a daily post of Camino trivia (history and background). As a start here is some background on the monastery next to the wine fountain at Irache:
"The abbey at Irache was one of the oldest Benedictine monasteries in the world with its foundations believed to date back to the 8th century. The first formal records date the monastery back to 958.
Thanks for this great post. During the time of Charlemagne almost All of the monasteries in Western Europe were Benedictine. The Benedictines amassed a great amount of wealth which in part spawned the Mendicant (lived more of a Spartan life) Orders. The Black Friars (Dominicans). the Franciscans (and Capuchins), the Augustinians and the Carmilites have their origins in the 13th century. so for 400 years the Benedictines were pretty much the only game in town. But in the year (814) of Charlemagne's death, the same year of the discovery of the mortal remains of Saint James the Apostle, most monastic orders were Benedictines!
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
The otherwise fairly unremarkable town of Castro del Río, in Córdoba province on the Camino Mozárabe, has a claim to be the birthplace of Don Quixote.

It is known from Cervantes' own writings (not a 100% reliable source, but the best we've got), that the idea for the ingenioso hidalgo came to him whilst he was in prison. This narrows it down (probably) to Seville, where he spent about 4 months banged up, Castro del Río (a fortnight or so) and Algiers (around five years). There may have been others (he was not a desperately well-behaved young man - duelling and so on). Jean Canavaggio, Cervantes' most recent biographer, favours Castro del Río, whilst admitting there is no conclusive proof.

The key to the albergue in CdR is held by the local police, a very friendly bunch, who didn't in the least mind when I teased them that it was probably their ancestors who locked up Spain's greatest writer. When I commiserated with them about the suffocating summer heat (40+ C is not unusual there), they said they rather liked it as it meant it was too hot for the local criminals to be out making a nuisance of themselves.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I would like to add a bit of historical trivia about Sahagun where pilgrims can receive a "halfway" certificate. My translation of the certificate is:

Let all know seeing this Pilgrim Certificate that [name] has passed through the Leonese lands of Sahagun, geographical center of the Camino Frances, where, as reported in the Codex Calixtinus, "... prodigous in all types of goods, one encounters the meadow, of which they say that in days gone by, the shining lances that the victorious warriors had thurst into the ground for the glory of the Lord came to life again." and it further attests that he has found rest for the fatigues of the body and relief for the spirit.

The inhabitants of this noble town give him encouragement to continue his camino and to arrive with safe passage at the house of the Lord Saint James, where we hope he retains a memory of the reception we have given him.

And for a record that can be presented before whoever demands it I sign this in Sahagun, on the [day] of [month] of the year of our Lord [year]

The Mayor.
[name]
Jacobean Pilgrims' Association Region of Sahagun
- Leon -
Pilgrim Certificate [number]


--------------------------------------

The story is that when Charlemagne (and Roland?) campaigned against the Moors in Spain there was a battle near Sahagun. The night before the battle the knights thurst their lances into the earth. In the morning the knights that were to die in battle that day found their lances had sprouted into trees showing them that they would have eternal life.

The story of the lances is depicted in a stained glass window in Chartes Cathedral:

Chartes Cathedral's window depicting the legends of Charlemagne and Roland http://www.medievalart.org.uk/Chartres/07_pages/Chartres_Bay07_key.htm

Panel 09 - St James appears to Charlemagne in a dream http://www.medievalart.org.uk/Chartres/07_pages/Chartres_Bay07_Panel09.htm

Panel 15 - The Miracle of the Flowering Lances http://www.medievalart.org.uk/Chartres/07_pages/Chartres_Bay07_Panel15.htm
 

Mark McCarthy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014 2015
Lourdes 2 SdC 2016
Sarria 2 SdC April&Oct 2016 & (April 2018)
Camino Baztan June 2017
Today's Camino trivia is:
"Valdeviejas itself is just a suburb of Astorga which you pass by almost unnoticed. However, at the exit to Valdeviejas is a 16th century hermitage/chapel dedicated to Ecce Homo.

Ecce Homo comes from the Latin translation of John’s Gospel (19:5). This is when Pontius Pilate after having had Jesus scourged and crowned with thorns shows the degraded Jesus to the baying crowd with the words “Behold the Man”. Subsequently, many Christians have prayed and paid adoration to this humbled image of Christ at his lowest point. This is a moment of great import in his victory over death and sin.

The legend for this hermitage is that a pilgrim stopped at this well to drink but her son fell in the well. The pilgrim immediately prayed to Ecce Homo and with a great surge of water the child was washed up and out of the well to safety. Thus, leading to the inscription “Give alms pilgrim to Ecce Homo and you will immediately know how to get out of your problems”. Whether you believe in the legend or not, the chapel is beautiful, the stamp is very pretty and the water fountain very welcome on a hot day."
 

Mark McCarthy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014 2015
Lourdes 2 SdC 2016
Sarria 2 SdC April&Oct 2016 & (April 2018)
Camino Baztan June 2017
Today's trivia concern the small hamlet of San Xulián do Camiño just after Palas de Rei.

"The story of Saint Julian the Hospitaller is a strange but apt story for the Camino in that Saint Julian uses pilgrimage and hospitality to pilgrims to atone for his terrible sin of killing his parents. Before telling the story it is worth noting that Saint Julian is the patron saint of the following: boatmen, carnival workers, childless people, circus workers, clowns, ferrymen, fiddle players, hospitallers, hotel-keepers, hunters, innkeepers, jugglers, wandering musicians, knights, murderers, pilgrims, shepherds, travellers and, in of particular interest to us pilgrims, to obtain lodging while traveling.

The story of Saint Julian starts with the night of his birth in Le Mans, France when his father witnessed pagan witches curse his son into killing both his parents. His father wanted to get rid of the child, but his mother would not let him do so. As Julian grew up he found out about the curse (some legends tell that he was told of the curse by a stag while out hunting). Julian decided he would prevent the curse from ever happening by leaving home and moving far away. After walking 50 days Julian reached Galicia and settled down with a good wife. Some twenty years later his parents made a pilgrimage to Santiago. While Julian was out hunting, Julian's wife not knowing his parents put up the two tired old pilgrims in her own bed. Upon his return, Julian came across the couple in his marital bed and believing them to be his wife with a lover he murdered both them in a fit of rage. When he realised his mistake, Julian was horrified by what he had done but his wife consoled him and told him to trust in Christ's forgiveness and persuaded him to atone by making a pilgrimage to Rome. After this pilgrimage, Saint Julian set up several pilgrim hostels and dedicated his life to caring for pilgrims on their pilgrimage and in this way gradually atoned for his terrible sin."
 

Ian L

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances summer 2017 (SJPP to Fromista)
Camino Frances summer 2019 (Fromista to Santiago)
Today's Camino trivia is:
"Valdeviejas itself is just a suburb of Astorga which you pass by almost unnoticed. However, at the exit to Valdeviejas is a 16th century hermitage/chapel dedicated to Ecce Homo.

Ecce Homo comes from the Latin translation of John’s Gospel (19:5). This is when Pontius Pilate after having had Jesus scourged and crowned with thorns shows the degraded Jesus to the baying crowd with the words “Behold the Man”. Subsequently, many Christians have prayed and paid adoration to this humbled image of Christ at his lowest point. This is a moment of great import in his victory over death and sin.

The legend for this hermitage is that a pilgrim stopped at this well to drink but her son fell in the well. The pilgrim immediately prayed to Ecce Homo and with a great surge of water the child was washed up and out of the well to safety. Thus, leading to the inscription “Give alms pilgrim to Ecce Homo and you will immediately know how to get out of your problems”. Whether you believe in the legend or not, the chapel is beautiful, the stamp is very pretty and the water fountain very welcome on a hot day."
I do remember that fountain on a hot summer day!

Ermita_Del_Ecce_Homo.jpg
 

Paladina

old woman of the roads
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
Today's trivia concern the small hamlet of San Xulián do Camiño just after Palas de Rei.

"The story of Saint Julian the Hospitaller is a strange but apt story for the Camino in that Saint Julian uses pilgrimage and hospitality to pilgrims to atone for his terrible sin of killing his parents.
And in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, the pen-portrait of the Franklin reads thus:

Seint Julian he was in his contree...
Withoute bake mete was nevere his hous,
Of fissh and flessh, and that so plentevous,
It snewed in his hous of mete and drynke...
His table dormant in his halle alway
Stood redy covered al the longe day.

Chaucer, characteristically, was satirising the status anxiety of the Franklin, whose extravagant maintenance of a regular running buffet of fine fare is far removed from the discreet hospitality of St Julian or, for instance, of Blas Rodriguez during the current Covid crisis [see separate thread]. I'm not suggesting, of course, that the beneficent priest at Fuenterroble has a murder on his conscience.
 

Mark McCarthy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014 2015
Lourdes 2 SdC 2016
Sarria 2 SdC April&Oct 2016 & (April 2018)
Camino Baztan June 2017
Today's trivia concerns the beautiful town of Estella in Navarra. This town has a rich history and is worthy of full rest day to look around. "Estella was founded as a city in 1090 by King Sancho Ramírez (Sancho V King of Aragón and Navarra). Previously it had been the village of Lizarra on the banks of the River Ega. In order to develop a strong commercial centre, the king bought in French merchants from the Auvergne and Limousin regions. These were known as "Francos" and the city was effectively divided in to 3 neighbourhoods, one for the local "Navarros", one for the Francos and one for the Jews.

The thriving commercial centre was boosted as Estella became the preferred crossing point of the River Ega rather the traditional but remote crossing point at Zarapuz which no longer exists. If you look at the map you will notice that you will be making a detour northward to pass through Estella to get to the abbey at Irache. There is an alternative path from Villatuerta which takes you on a more southerly crossing point close to the original crossing point and avoids Estella. However, few pilgrims take this route as Estella has several architectural gems and has been the preferred route for most pilgrims for the past 900 years.
In 1328 during civil unrest in Navarra there was a riot in Estella during which there was a massacre of much of the Jewish community. However, five of those responsible for the starting the riot were tried and executed. The Jewish community managed to re-establish itself but was finally dissolved in 1492 as a result of the Alhambra Decree (also known as the Spanish Expulsion).
During the third Carlist war the pretender to the throne Don Carlos established his headquarters in Estella until being defeated and losing the war in 1876. The area and region have a strong Carlist tradition which manifests itself in Catholic conservatism, a strong sense of regional autonomy and the wearing of red berets. The red berets are also worn by Carlist and non-Carlists alike during festivals as part of the traditional dress of a white top, white trousers, white pumps and a red scarf."
 

Mark McCarthy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014 2015
Lourdes 2 SdC 2016
Sarria 2 SdC April&Oct 2016 & (April 2018)
Camino Baztan June 2017
Today's trivia concerns the person of Santo Domingo de la Calzada,
"Santo Domingo de la Calzada is named after its patron saint whose name in English tanslates to Saint Dominic of the Roadway. He was born in 1019 to poor farm workers in Viloria. After the death of his parents he attempted to enter the monastic life at two nearby Benedictine monasteries but was rejected. In 1039 he decided to become a hermit in the seclusion of the woods of Ayuela (close to modern day Santo Domingo). About the same time, he begain to work with Gerogorio (a papal envoy who was also bishop of Ostia). Gregorio agreed to ordain Dominic. Together Dominic and Gregorio built a wooden bridge for pilgrims over the river Oja. In 1044 Gregorio died and Dominic returned to Ayuela to contemplate what he should do. Dominic decided that his best way of serving God was to improve the roadway for Santiago bound pilgrims. Dominic cleared a new path through the forests between Nájera and Redecilla del Camino and for this work Dominic came to be known as Dominic of the roadway. He then went on to replace the wooden bridge he built with Gregorio with a stone bridge. He also built a new pilgrim hospital in present day Santo Domingo which forms the basis of the modern albergue Casa del Santo. In 1076 King Alfonso VI of Leon seized La Rioja and was so impressed by Dominic's work that he became his patron and gave Dominic responsibility for all works along the Camino. Together with his protégé San Juan de Ortega, Dominic started to build what is now the Cathedral in Santo Domingo. Dominic died in 1109 just and was buried just outside the church which had been completed just three years prior. In 1235 the church was elevated to the status of a cathedral."
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
Galicia and Asturias is where all the gold is! The great gold mines of Las Medulas near Ponferrada had been worked by the Romans for two hundred years until the gold began to become harder to get out of the earth. The Romans took 20,000 pounds of gold, using upwards of 50,000 free men as miners, each year out of Las Medulas. Incredible! We know from the writings of the Roman historian Pliny of the massive engineering project which they called ruina montium. Pliny describes the hydraulic mining process where water pressure opened up the narrow hand-dug tunnels. They built aqueducts at the site to deliver the water and to blow open the tunnels. It was an amazing feat of engineering on a massive scale.
Yes, and on the Primitivo the gold mine A Freita in Hospitales and many more. They had water for the mine at Puerto del Palo (from latin Paluster).
Monte Furado means Leaky Mountain because the tunnels, one of them is Xan Rata cave.
I think that they had to bring workers (free men ?) from North Africa because there were not enough people in the region ; for two reasons:
The name Maragateria (capital Astorga) seems that comes from latin Maurus.
There is a high incidence of haplogroup E (10%) in the corner Galicia/Asturias/Leon.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
The great gold mines of Las Medulas near Ponferrada had been worked by the Romans for two hundred years until the gold began to become harder to get out of the earth. The Romans took 20,000 pounds of gold, using upwards of 50,000 free men as miners, each year out of Las Medulas. Incredible! We know from the writings of the Roman historian Pliny of the massive engineering project which they called ruina montium. Pliny describes the hydraulic mining process where water pressure opened up the narrow hand-dug tunnels. They built aqueducts at the site to deliver the water and to blow open the tunnels. It was an amazing feat of engineering on a massive scale.
Las Medulas is right on the Invierno.
It's amazing how well even a massive environmental disaster like this can heal. 2000 years later, it's gorgeous.
View media item 9644
 

Nat2020

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Portugwe da Costa (2019 July)
Lisboa - Porto (2020 July)
"The Song of Roland" ( English)
Beneath a pine was his resting - place, To the land of Spain hath he turned his face, On his memory rose full many a thought Of the lands he won and the fields he fought; Of his gentle France, of his kin and line; Of his nursing father, King Karl benign; He may not the tear and sob control, Nor yet forgets he his parting soul. To God's compassion he makes his cry: "O Father true, who canst not lie, Who didst Lazarus raise unto life agen, And Daniel shield in the lions' den; Shield my soul from its peril, due For the sins I sinned my lifetime through." He did his right - hand glove uplift Saint Gabriel took from his hand the gift; Then drooped his head upon his breast, And with clasped hands he went to rest. God from on high sent down to him One of his angel Cherubim Saint Michael of Peril of the sea, Saint Gabriel in company From heaven they came for that soul of price, And they bore it with them to Paradise.

My niece read this poem at school. It was interesting but sometimes horribly. If you want, you can read it in Russian. It is interesting to compare translations

Граф под сосною на холме лежит.
К Испании лицо он обратил,
Стал вспоминать о подвигах своих,
О землях, что когда-то покорил,
О милой Франции и о родных,
О Карле, ибо тот его вскормил.
Он плачет - слезы удержать нет сил,
Но помнит о спасении души,
Вновь просит отпустить ему грехи:
"Царю небес, от века чуждый лжи,
Кто Лазаря из мертвых воскресил,
Кем был от львов избавлен Даниил,
Помилуй мою душу и спаси,
Прости мне прегрешения мои".
Он правую перчатку поднял ввысь.
Приял ее архангел Гавриил.
Граф головою на плечо поник
И, руки на груди сложив, почил.
К нему слетели с неба херувим,
И на водах спаситель Михаил,
И Гавриил-архангел в помощь им.
В рай душу графа понесли они.
 

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