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Good article

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Hi John,
It IS a good article, but unfortunately like any information taken from biased sources (in this case I believe the Dean of the Cathedral) it has its errors.
First there is this paragraph:
Some claim the tomb does not contain the remains of St James at all, but rather those of Priscillian, an ascetic bishop who mixed his newly learned Christian faith with his traditional Celtic beliefs. He built up a substantial following in the region during his lifetime, until, in 345, he became one of the first Christians to be executed for heresy. Over the next decades and centuries his popularity continued to grow, prompting some to suggest the story of St James was superimposed in an arcane act of spin to counter Priscillian's influence.
"Some say..." I sound like Jeremy Clarkson! As one of the "some" (and we are growing in number) I most certainly do agree with this last sentence. Consider early 9th century Iberia: almost entirely conquered by the Moors with Mohammed as their spiritual figurehead. In the north, the kings of Leon (incl.Galicia) and Aragon were scratching their heads trying to think how to rally their own forces with the same spiritual thrust. And Lo and Behold: a tomb is found! "Must be St. James" said Alfonso the Chaste. Trouble is, Alfonso had also been listening to misinformation (though probably not disinformation at this point). What he didn't know was that no-one prior to the 8th century had said a word about James being buried in Spain. Isidore doesn't mention it, and Jerome outright denies it! But along comes Santiago Matamoros brandishing his shiny sword, killing 50,000 infidels in one day. Trouble is, wrong battle, wrong king, wrong date. And where does this story come from? The Historia Compostelana, that's where. Diego Xelmirez gift to enlighten the darkness.
In fact, Priscillian was executed in 385, possibly 386 not 345. He was more than merely "one of the first Christians to be executed for heresy". He was the first Christian to be executed by the secular arm of the Church with the full approval of certain bishops. Martin of Tours was so outraged that he refused to give communion with them afterwards. He was also executed with six others, one a woman, Euchrotia.
The Portico de Gloria was not "the original entrance to the cathedral rebuilt after Al Mansur's raid". The Portico, as you know, was built after the construction of the third church/cathedral (mid 12th century and after Diego Xelmirez - who was the second Archbishop, not bishop) had been dead for more than 30 years. Diego was certainly NOT credited with raising the rubble left behind by Al Mansur(though I bet he would be delighted to hear of it!). Xelmirez wouldn't be born for another 70 years! The second church was constructed immediately after the raid in the early years of the 11th century at the behest of the king.
The article, quite unintentionally I think, gives the impression that the Historia Compostelana was "found...below a small marble tomb". Not so! The Historia Compostelana was written on the orders of Diego Xelmirez, and mostly to promote the cult of relics, and even more himself!
What also fascinates me is why did Al-Mansur leave the tomb intact? Was it really because he took pity on the monk guarding it (Al-Mansur was not known for his pity) or did he learn something which made him change his mind?
Anyway, I have written to Jeremy Lennard to let him know about the innacuracies in his article, and also to congratulate him on a nicely written piece. Such a shame he didn't cast his net a bit wider when doing his research. But if you look again you will see that this is an "Advertising Feature". Lennard is a freelance journalist writing for the Guardian, not a staff member it seems. Puts a bit of a different slant on things don't you think?
Yes, Tracy Saunders is on her rant again. And she will stay that way until people begin to look for the story beneath The Story. :wink:

More information about the origin of the Cult of Santiago (their term, not mine) and the story of Priscillian at

See also: The Library of Iberian Resources Online: Diego Gelmirez: St. James' Catapult
A real eye opener...

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