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Guide to holy relics on the Camino Frances

#1
Hello,

I am looking for a guide to the holy relics in the churches along the Camino Frances, or generally in Northern Spain. It can be in Spanish, French, Italian, or German (and, of course, in English.)

Thank you kindly for your help, every little bit counts :D
 

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sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#2
Holy Relics

Interesting subject!

Two sources come to mind:

1) The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela - by Annie-Shaver-Crendell and Paula Gerson which is a detailed gazetteer of all the monuments (over 730 entries) even those no longer there, along the routes through France and Spain.

2) Then there is HUGE work on the monuments and relics along the Camino France written by D Elias Valina Sampedro (the priest who painted the yellow arrows).
In 1967 he wrote his doctoral thesis on - The Road of St James: A Historical and Legal Study. He also directed the - Artistic Inventory of Lugo and its Province- six large volumes of an exhaustive description of all the monuments and items that could have any value.

For a quick answer you might find what you need by contacting the pilgrim office in Santiago:

http://www.peregrinosasantiago.com

or the official web sites:

http://www.xacobeo.es/
http://www.archicompostela.org

Good luck!
 
#3
indeed, yes, an interesting question. I think it depends what you mean. The Codex Calixtinus lists only 3 shrines on the Camino Frances: Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Sahagún (= St Facundus, though there was also the shrine of a certain Primitivus), Isidore at León. I suspect that Santiago will have wanted to prevent too much competition. One that sprang up later that comes to mind is San Juan de Ortega, a follower of Sto Domingo. A cult also grew up around the statue of the Virgin at Cebreiro, but this is not 'relics' as such. If you include the Aragon route under 'Camino Frances', then add San Juan de la Peña. Other places (Sta Cristina at the Somport, for example) acquired relics over the course of the Middle Ages, as you had to have relics to have any street cred. How many of these are still around, I wouldn't like to say.

The other major shrines in N Spain are not on the Camino Frances: Oviedo, the True Cross at Liebana (celebrates its Holy Year this year), Covadonga and Zaragoza (again, not relics as such).

If you include all places where an image of some sort is venerated, then there must be hundreds in Galicia alone, but I'm afraid I don't know of any book on the subject.
 
#4
Holy relics

Dear Sil and Peter,

Thank you very much for your interesting and useful suggestions. I will certainly try to get these publications. In my original posting, by "holy relics" I meant exactly that, i.e., body parts of saints which, in accordance with the practice of the Roman Catholic Church must be present inside every single church altar. Of course, the faithful are usually more interested in, well, larger pieces (fingers, arms, heads, entire bodies.) On the other hand, having a list of venerated images and such would be most helpful, too. The problem is that so many churches along the Camino are either almost always shut, or open only for the evening services...

In reference to Zaragoza, this city has not only the famous statuette of the Nuestra Señora del Pilar (curiously, the marble pillar is the actual relic) but also relics of the "numberless saints" (santos innumerables) - early Christian martyrs - in the crypt of the Santa Engracia church and the bodies of Santo Dominguito del Val and San Pedro de Arbués at the Seo.
 

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#6
Re: Holy relics

Rebis said:
The problem is that so many churches along the Camino are either almost always shut, or open only for the evening services.
a common problem, I'm afraid. One thing you can do is look for the annual fiesta of the saint/shrine in question, and go along to it. Not only do you get inside the church, but you can join in the fun too. :) It has been said, probably correctly, that in Spain you can go to a different fiesta every day of the year.

Rebis said:
also relics of the "numberless saints" (santos innumerables)
things like this are a sure sign that they were not officially sanctified 'saints' but local venerations.
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
#7
It has been said, probably correctly, that in Spain you can go to a different fiesta every day of the year.
In and around Santiago this is literally true, at least in the summer months. The problem is finding out about them. They are usually not advertised in the papers, but if you walk along (in Galicia at least) and hear several repeated BANGS you know that there is a fiesta going on. They use something similar to fireworks to tell people that "We have a fiesta, please stop by". The fireworks does not have any light, what is important is the sound to attract people.

Ivar
 
#8
Re: Holy relics

Peter Robins said:
Rebis said:
The problem is that so many churches along the Camino are either almost always shut, or open only for the evening services.
a common problem, I'm afraid. One thing you can do is look for the annual fiesta of the saint/shrine in question, and go along to it.
A more practical solution is to knock at the door of the house nearest to the church in question and ask who has the key. It is less time consuming than waiting for a fiesta, although one cannot do this and still follow the usual (and regrettable) race to the next refugio... :(

In larger towns, where one is going to stay for at least one day, it is a good idea to visit the local tourist office and ask about a guided tour of the local monuments. I have joined such a tour in Estella - it was conducted in Spanish and English and it covered three out of four most important churches there.

My best experience in this respect took place at Puente la Reina where all the churches (except one) had been wide open from morning till night. The worst happened in Logroño, one of the largest cities on the Camino - not a single church was open before 5 pm and the evening service took place everywhere at almost the same time.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#9
Holy Relics

I am sure someone, somewhere, has researched the Holy Relics of the Camino.
Perhaps you could ask Linda Davidson? If anyone knows of a paper on this subject, I'm sure she will.
 
#11
I just received a borrowed copy of "The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela: The Gazetteer" by Annie Shaver-Crendell and Paula Gerson and it is a bit of a disappointment (I am still grateful for your reference to it, Sil, but I thought I should register my observations here as this threat is quite popular with more than 310 viewings.)

The contents of this lavishly illustrated publication are strictly geared to the famous mediaeval guide written supposedly by Aymery de Picaud. This means that the book hardly mentions any buildings constructed after c. 1200, and the descriptions are very basic and limited to architecture only.

I believe that this very heavy volume can be useful primarily to the armchair pilgrim reenactors and, of course, to anybody platonically interested in the Camino. But there is absolutely nothing in it about the holy relics or, for that matter, any inside monuments, altars, vessels, etc.

However, I found this publication truly valuable to the actual pilgrim in at least one respect - the entries clearly indicate the extent of rebuildings/renovations of the mentioned churches, they also pretty much demolish the legend of the Templar origin of Eunate and Torres del Rio.
 

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