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History Time - The Cathedral in Santiago


Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
Since parts of the Cathedral are reported closed for renovation until the next Holy Year 2021 let us talk about some of the more curiouser and curiouser histories of the cathedral.
Things were looking not bad until along came Al-Mansur ibn Abi Aamir in 997. He captured the city, destroyed the edifice, but left largely untouched the tomb and the relics of Saint James. The gates, the lamps, and the bells were carried by local Christian captives all the way to Córdoba there to adorn the Aljama Mosque-today the Cathedral of Córdoba.
Construction of the present cathedral began in 1075 under the reign of Alfonso VI of Castile (1040–1109) and the patronage of bishop Diego Peláez. Construction was halted several times untilas we see in the Liber Sancti Iacobi, the last stone was laid in 1122. Even then, the construction of the cathedral was not finished. The cathedral was consecrated in 1211.
When Córdoba was taken by king Ferdinand III in 1236. These same gates, lamps, and bells were then transported by Muslim captives to Toledo to be placed in the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo.
Touching on practical issues, Galicia was then אוטוועלד the end of the European Christian world - how did they finance such a project? The Santiago de Compostela tax helped but also frustrated many. Pilgrims were encouraged to carry along building blocks from quarry sites along the Camino, and by donation of course. The most interesting?
After Jerusalem was captured by the Crusaders in 1099, a massive flow of pilgrims changed itinerary and went East crippling income for Santiago. Those days a pilgrim would appear before clergy, often a bishop, an archbishop or before the Pope and take a binding oath of pilgrimage. Jerusalem was far away and perils along the way more dangerous than even the Basques. After an initial enthusiasm - second thoughts arose. Succeeding Bishops of Santiago were quick to respond - offering to release one from the oath to Jerusalem when arriving in Santiago for the price of half the budget planned for the longer trip thereby helping to finance the construction. Sly.
Those Crusaders were also very sly, Sebastia (Nablus-Shechem of today just north of here in Jerusalem) was the seat of a bishop in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. In the early Christian period Sebastia became a pilgrimage destination, as the site of John the Baptist’s tomb and later of Joseph the son of - wait for it - Jacob, OK not ours but the same name - the head of J the B is now thought to be in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. A church was constructed over the tomb during the Byzantine period (5th century), later reconstructed during the Crusader period (12th century). A Crusader Bishop by the name of Frederich offered to release any pilgrim who had taken a binding oath to walk to Santiago de Compostla upon arrival in Sebastia for the price of half the monies budgeted for Spain and thus the church was financed.
Curious indeed!
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how to successfully prepare for your Camino
This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.
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