Pilgrimage Guide of Santiago
Click on map to go to Google Map
One of the fundamental ideas of Christian thought is the conception of life as a spiritual pilgrimage or journey in an alien country and a quest to return to the native country. This idea is expressed by St Augustine in his On Christian Doctrine:
Suppose we were wanderers who could not live in blessedness except at home, miserable in our wanderings and desiring to end it and return to our native country. We would need vehicles for land and sea which could be used to help us to reach our homeland, which is to be enjoyed. But if the amenities of the journey and the motion of the vehicles itself delighted us, and we were led to enjoy those things which we should use, we should not wish to end our journey quickly, and, entangled in a perverse sweetness, we should be alienated from our country, whose sweetness would make us blessed. Thus is this mortal life, wandering from God, if we wish to return to our native country where we can be blessed we should use this world and not enjoy it, so that the "invisible things" of God being understood by the things that are made may be seen, that is, so that by means of corporal and temporal things we may comprehend the eternal and spiritual.
The topoi of pilgrimage, of homelessness, of strangeness in this world were among the most widespread in Christian ascetic literature, and not a few ascetics practiced it by voluntary and migratory exile from their fatherland. Relics were seen as vehicles, in Augustine terms, in this journey. Since the early church, Christians had made literal this spiritual quest by setting out on pilgrimages to the major sacred shrines. Paulinus of Nola at the end of the 4th century writes:
No other sentiment draws men to Jerusalem than the desire to see and touch the places where Christ was physically present, and to be able to say from our very own experience 'we have gone into the tabernacle and adored in the very places where his feet have stood...." Theirs is a truly spiritual desire to see the places where Christ suffered, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven.... The manger of his birth, the river of his baptism, the garden of his betrayal, the palace of his condemnation, the column of his scourging, the thorns of his crowning, the wood of his crucifixion, the stone of his burial: all these things recall God's former presence on earth and demonstrate the ancient basis of our modern beliefs.
The comparative political stability of Europe in the eleventh century meant that barriers to travel were lifted all over Europe. This can be called the Great Age of Pilgrimage. The church of St. Peter's in Rome was one major goal for pilgrims, to worship at the grave of St Peter the principal apostle. In 813, during the Carolingian period, the remains of the apostle St James the Major were believed to have been discovered in northwestern Spain in the region known as Galicia. According to a legend, St James appeared to Charlemagne in a dream and said: "You who have freed all other lands, why have you not freed my land and my route." This led to Charlemagne's campaign against the Moors in Spain. The invention or discovery of St James's remains was thus seen as not fortuitous but as part of God's divine plan. The fame of St James made the town of Santiago de Compostela another major goal for the pilgrims. By the eleventh century four distinct routes developed leading to Santiago de Compostela. These routes past through the major French and northern Spanish towns which were likewise famous for their relics. The map below traces these routes:
Many of these churches along these routes are the major monuments of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and sculpture. The existence of these monuments is directly related to the authority of their relics and their position along the pilgrimage routes.
Included in a twelfth century life of St. James entitled the Liber Sancti Jacobi is a guide for pilgrims. Like a modern guide book, this text highlights the major sights along the way as well as advice about the food, customs, obstacles, etc. that the pilgrim would encounter along the way. The author of this text is understood to have been a member of the Cluniac Order, which greatly profited from the popularity of pilgrimage since many of the churches along the route were Cluniac dependencies. The following are excerpts from this text:
There are four routes which, leading to St. James, unite in one at the Queen's Bridge, in Spanish territory: one passes by Saint Gilles du Gard, Montpelier, Toulouse, and Somport; one other by Notre Dame of Puy, Saint Foy of Conques and St. Peter of Moissac; another begins at Sainte-Marie-Madeleine of Vézelay, Saint-Léonard in Limousin and the town of Périgiueux; and still another passes by Saint Martin of Tours, Saint-Hilaire of Poitiers, Saint John of Angély, Saint-Eutrope of Saintes and the town of Bordeaux.
The route which passes by Sainte Foy, that which passes Saint-Léonard and that which passes by Saint Martin join at Ostabat and after having crossed the valley of Cize, they join at the Queen's Bridge the route which passes Somport; from there a single road leads to Saint James.
From Somport to the Queen's Bridge, here are the towns and cities which are found on the route of St. James: there is first at the foot of the mountain, on the Gascon side, Borce; then, after having crossed the crest of the mountain, on finds the hospice of Sainte-Christine, then Canfranc next Jacca, then Osturit, Tiermas where there are the royal baths where the water is always hot, then Monreal; finally one attains the Queen's Bridge.
From the gates of Cize, here are the most important cities that one meets on the road of St. James to the basilica: first, at the foot of the mountain of Cize, on the Gascon side, there is the city of Saint-Michel; next after having crossed the crest of this mountain, one attains the hospice of Roland, then the town of Roncevaux; one finds next Viscarret, then Larrasoaña, then the town of Pampelune, then the Queen's Bridge, then Estella where the bread is good, the wine excellent, the meat and fish abundant and which overflows with all delicacies. One next passes by Arcos, Lorgroño, Villaroya, then one finds the town of Najera, Santo Domingo, Redecilla, Belorado, Villafranca, the forest of Oca, Atapuerca, the town of Burgos, Tardajos, Hornillos del Camino, Castrogeriz, the bridge of Itera, Fromista, Carrion, which is an industrious and prosperous town, rich in bread, in wine, in meat and in all sorts of things; then there is Sahagun, where prosperity reigns; there is a meadow where, one says, sparkles the lances of victorious warriors, planted there to glorify God. Then there is Mansilla and the town of Leon, the residence of the king and his court, full of all sorts of felicities. Next there is Orbigo, then the town of Astorga, then Rabanal surnamed the Captive, then Puerto Irago, Molina, Seca, then Ponferrada, Cacabelos, Villafranca, on the mouth of the Valcarce river, then the Sarrasin Camp, Villa Us, Cebrero mountain and the hospice at the summit of the mountain, in Galatia, there where the pilgrims receive a stone which they carry with them to Castañola to make lime which is used in the construction of the apostolic basilica. Then there is the city of San Miguel, then Barbadelo, then the bridge over the Miño, then Sala Regina, Palaz Rey, Leboreiro, then Saint-Jacques de Boente, Castañola, Villanova, Ferreiros, and finally Compostella, the very excellent town of the apostle, full of all delicacies, which guards the precious body of St. James and which is recognized as being the most happy and the most noble of all towns of Spain....
Here are the rivers that one encounters from the gate of Cize and Somport to St. James: from Somport descends a salubrious river called the Aragon which irrigates Spain; from the gate of Cize runs a healthy river that many call the Runa and which crosses Pamplona. At the Queen's Bridge, the Arga and the Runa flow together; in a place called Lorca, towards the east, runs a river called the Salty River; there, guard well not to drink the water or let your horse drink, because this river causes death. On its banks, while we were going to St. James, we found two from Navarre seated, sharpening their knives: they were in the habit of skinning the mounts of pilgrims who drank this water and died. To our questions they responded in a lying manner, saying that this water was good and potable; we then let our horses drink, soon two among them died, then these men flayed them on the spot.
At Estella, runs the river Ega, whose water is sweet, healthy and excellent.... At Logroño, passes a great river of the name of Ebre whose water is good and abundant with fish. All the rivers that one encounters between Estella and Logroño have dangerous water to drink by humans and horses, and their fish are deadly to those who eat them. These fish are called vulgarly barbel or that the Poitevins call "alose" and the Italians "clipia" or eel or tench. In no part of Spain or Galatia, should you eat any, because, without doubt, either you will die shortly after or you will fall sick. If one by chance eats some and is not sick, it is that he is more healthy than the other or that he is more acclimatized by a long sojourn in this country. All the fish and meat of beef and of pork in all Spain and Galatia give sickness to foreigners....
In going to St. James by the route from Toulouse, after having crossed first the Garonne, one finds the Gascon country and next after having crossed the Somport, the Aragon, then Navarre until the gate on the Arga. But if one takes the route from the gates of Cize, after Tours, one finds the Poitevin country, fertile, excellent and full of all felicities. The Poitevins are a vigorous people and good warriors, facile in the use of bows, of arrows and of lances of war, courageous in the front of battle, very speedy runners, elegant in their manner of dress, handsome faces, spiritual, very generous, large in their hospitality. Then one finds the country of Saintongeais; from there, after having crossed an arm of the sea and the Garonne, one arrives in Bordelais where the wine is excellent, the fish abundant, but the language rude. The people of Saintongeais already speak rudely, but that of Bordelais is worse. Then to cross the Bordelais dunes, it takes a three day march for people already tired.
This is a desolate country, where one lacks everything; there is neither bread, wine, meat, fish, water, nor springs; the villages are rare in this sandy plain which abounds however in honey, millet, panic and in wild pigs.
If by chance, you cross the heath in summer, take care to protect your faces from enormous flies which swarm all about and which one calls wasps or horse-flies ; and if you do not watch your step, you will sink rapidly to the knee in the sand which overspreads this region.
After having crossed this country, one finds Gasconny, rich in white bread and in excellent red wine, it is covered with woods and meadows, rivers and pure springs. The Gascons are light in words, garrulous, mockers, debauched, drunkards, gluttons, badly dressed in rags, and destitute of money. Even though they incite fights, they are remarkable by their hospitality towards the poor. Seated about the fire, they have the habit of eating without a table and of drinking from the same goblet. They eat much, and are hard drinkers and are badly dressed; they are not ashamed of sleeping all together on a thin bed of rotted straw, the servants with the master and mistress.
On leaving this country, the road of St. James crosses two rivers which run near the village of Saint-Jean de Sorde; one on the right, and the other on the left.; one is called a mountain torrent and the other a river; it is impossible to cross them except in a boat. Cursed are their boatmen! These people are in the habit of exacting from each man that is transported to the opposite shore, both from the poor and the rich, a piece of money and for a horse they extort shamefully by force, four pieces of money. Now their boat is small, made of a single trunk of a tree, it can carry with trouble horses; also when you embark, be careful not not fall into the water. You will do well to hold your horse by the bridle, behind you, in the water, outside the boat, and only embark with a few passengers, because if the boat is too full, it will capsize.
Then about the gates of Cize, is found the Basque country, of which the largest city, Bayonne, is situated on the edge of the sea to the north. This country, whose language is barbarous, is wooded, mountainous, poor in bread, wine, and foods of all sorts, but one finds in compensation apples, cider, and milk.
In this country, there are some bad toll-collectors near the gates of Cize, in the village called Ostabat, at Saint-Jean and Saint-Michel-Pied-de-Port; they are frankly sent by the devil. In effect, they meet the pilgrims with two or three cudgels to extort by force an unjust tribute, and if some voyager refuses to cede to their demands and to give money, they strike him with cudgel blows and wrest the tax from the injured man. These are ferocious people and the land they inhabit is hostile as well with its forrests and with its savagery; the ferocity of their visages and similarly that of their barbarous language, terrorizes the heart of them who see them....
In the Basque country, the road of Saint James crosses a remarkable mountain called the Port de Cize, either because it is the gate of Spain, or because it is by this mountain that useful merchandise is transported from one country to another. For the crossing, it takes eight thousand to mount and as much to descend. In effect, this mountain is so high, that it appears to touch the sky; those who make the ascent believe to be able with their own hand to touch the sky. From the summit, one can see the sea of Britanny and of the West and the frontiers of three countries: Castille, Aragon, and France. At the summit of this mountain, is a site called the Cross of Charles because it is this place that with hatchets and picks and other tools, Charlemagne going to Spain with his armies, cut through a passage, and that he raised first symbolically the cross of the Lord and next kneeling, turned towards Galatia and addressed a prayer to God and to Saint James. As they arrive there, pilgrims have the custom of bowing to the knee and praying towards the land of Saint James and each one plants his cross as a standard. One can find there nearly a thousand crosses. This is why this place is the first station of prayer on the road of St. James. It is on this mountain, before Christianity had spread widely in Spain, that the impious Navarrese and the Basques had the custom not only of robbing the pilgrims going to Saint James, but of riding them like asses and of killing them. Near this mountain, towards the north, is a valley called the Val Carlos, in which Charlemagne along with his armies sought refuge after the combattants had been killed at Roncevaux....
Next descending from the summit, one finds the hospice and the church in which is found the rock that Roland, this superhuman hero, split on the third blow of his sword from the top to the bottom in the middle. Next one finds Roncevaux where once had taken place the great battle in which king Marsile, Roland, Olivier with forty thousand other Christian and Saracen warriors found their death. After this valley, one enters the country of Navarre where there is no lack of bread, wine, milk, or livestock. The Navarrese and the Basques ressemble each other and have the same characteristics in their manner of eating and of dressing and in their language, but the Basques have the visage more white than the Navarrese.
The Navarrese wear black and short clothing which stops at the knee. They have shoes which they call "lavaracas", made of leather and attached to their feet by straps, but which cover only the soles of their feet leaving the upper part of their feet bare. They wear cloaks of wool of somber colors which fall to the elbow.... These people are badly dressed and eat and drink badly; in the Navarrese house, all the household, the servant and the master, all together eat from the same pot, without using spoons and they drink from the same goblet. When one watches them eat, one thinks he is watching dogs or pigs devour glutonously; in listening to them speak, one believes he hears dogs barking. Their language is in effect barbarous. They call God "Urcia", the mother of God, "Andrea Maria, bread, "orgui", wine, "ardum", meat, "aragui", fish, "araign", house, "echea", the master of the house, "iaona", the mistress, "andrea", the church, "elicera," the priest, "bela terra"....
They are a barbarous people, different from all other people both in their customs and their race, full of wickedness, black of color, ugly in visage, debauched, perverse, perfidious, disloyal, corrupt, voluptuous, drunkards, expert in all types of violence, ferocious and savage, dishonest and false, impious and rude, cruel and quarellesome, incapable of all good sentiment, full of all vices and iniquities. They are similar to the Getes and to the Saracens by their malice and in all ways enemies of our people of France. For a sou only, the Navarrese or the the Basques will kill a Frenchman if they can. In certain regions of their country, in Biscay and Alava, when the Navarrese warm themselves, men show to the women and the women show to the men that which ought to be hidden. The Navarrese fornicate shamefully with beasts....
This is why all people condemn the Navarrese. However, they are good on the field of battle, but they are bad in assaulting fortresses, regular in the payment of tithes, accustomed to making offerings at the altar; each day, in effect, when they go to church, the Navarrese give to God an offering of bread, wine, wheat, or of some other things. Wherever the Navarrese or the Basques go, they wear like a hunter a horn supended from their necks and they habitually carry in their hands two or three spears which they call "auconas." And when they enter their houses, they whistle like a kite, and when they are in secret places or hidden in solitude, the guard wanting to call his companions imitates the hooting of an owl or howls like a wolf....
Those who go to St. James by the route from Saint Gilles ought to pay a visit to Arles to the body of the blessed Trophime, confessor; it is him who Saint Paul, writing to Timothy, evokes the memory of and who was made bishop by this same apostle and sent to this city to preach the word of Christ. It is from this very clear source, says Pope Zosimus, that all of France received the streams of faith. His feast day is celebrated on December 29.
One ought also to visit the body of blessed Césaire, bishop and martyr, who established in this city the monastic rule and whose feast is celebrated on the first of November.
And in the cemetery of the same town, one ought to find the relics of the holy bishop Honorat; his solemn office is celebrated on January 16 and is in his venerable and magnificent basilica where lies the body of the very holy martyr Genès.
There is a town near Arles, between two branches of the Rhône, called Trinquetaille, where one can find behind a church a magnificent and very tall marble column; it is there that the wicked populace tied the blessed Genès before he was decapitated, and today one can still see the traces of his purple blood. When he was decapitated he took in his hands his head and threw it in the Rhône; his body was carried by the river to the basilica of Saint-Honorat where it was placed in a very distinguished sarcophagus. His head flowed down the Rhône to the sea, and carried by an angel, it arrived in Carthage in Spain, where it reposes gloriously and has made numerous miracles. His feast is celebrated on the 25th of August....
One ought also to visit with very attentive respect the venerable body of St. Gilles, pious confessor and abbot, because St. Gilles, celebrated in all countries of the world, ought to be venerated by all, worthily honored by all and loved by all, invoked and supplicated. After the prophets and the apostles, none among the blessed is more worthy than him, none is more holy, more dressed in glory, none more prompt to come to ones aid. In effect, it is him who before all other saints is accustomed to coming the most quickly to the aid of the sick, the afflicted and the anguished who invoke him. O how beautiful and profitable it is to visit his tomb! The same day when one prays to him with all ones heart, requests will without doubt be granted... Who will spend the most time near him? Who will adore God in his very holy basilica? Who will embrace his tomb? Who will kiss his venerable altar or who will recount his very pious life? An invalid dressed in the tunic of this saint, is cured; by his inexhaustible virtue, a man bitten by a snake is cured; another possessed by a demon is delivered; a tempest on the sea is calmed. The daughter of Theocritus receives from him a long sought cure.... A monastery developed under the patronage of this abbot; a ranter is delivered from a demon; the sin of Charlemagne, revealed to him by an angel, is remitted; a dead man is restored to life; a cripple finds health; even more, two doors of cypress wood, where are found sculpted the images of the holy apostles, arrived from Rome, carried by the tides of the sea, without any guide, by the sole grace of his sovereign power. I regret that I would die before having been able to recount all the memorable feats; there are so many and so great. This very brilliant star came from Greece, after having illuminated by his rays Provence, he lay down magnificently among them, without declining but becoming greater, not decreasing his light, but sending it two times more strongly, not descending towards the abysses, but elevating himself to the summits of Olympus. This star is more brilliant than the other holy stars; it illuminates the four parts of the world.
A great chasse of gold which is behind his altar, above his venerable body, displays on first register of its left face, sculpted images of the six apostles, with, on the same level, in the first place, the skillfully sculpted representation of the Virgin Mary; on the second register above, the twelve signs of the zodiac are found in this order: the ram, the bull, the twins, cancer, the lion, the virgin, the scales, the scorpion, Sagatarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and the fish and in the middle of these flowers of gold entwine as rinceaux of vines. On the upper register- the third- is found the images of twelve of the twenty-four elders with these verses engraved above their heads:
"Here is the magnificent choir of elders; there are two times twelve and they play sweet canticles on their cithars in clear sonorities."
On the right side of the chasse, on the first register, there are seven other figures, those of the six apostles with a seventh figure who is a disciple of Christ; but in addition, above the heads of the apostles, one sculpted on each side of the chasse, in the figures of women, the virtues which are: goodness, meekness, faith, hope, charity, etc.
On the second register of the right side, flowers are sculpted in rinceaux like vines and on the third, above, as on the left side, there are the images of twelve of the twenty-four elders with these verses engraved above their heads:
"This vessel decorated with precious stones and gold contains the relics of Saint Gilles. He who breaks it will be eternally damned by God as well as by Gilles and the whole sacred order."
The roof of the chasse is decorated like below and on the sides in the manner of scales of fish.
And at the top thirteen crystal rocks are enshrined, some in squares, the others take the form of apples or of pomegranates; a large crystal is cut in the form of a great fish, of a trout, the tail turned upwards.
The first of these crystals, formed like a great pot, is enormous; one has fixed there a precious cross of resplendent gold.
In the middle of the front face of the chasse, in a golden circle, sits Our Lord, blessing with his right hand and holding in his left hand a book on which is written: "Love peace and truth." On the footstool where he rests his feet is a star of gold and on each side two letters are inscribed, one on the left, and the other on the right: a v , and above his throne two precious stones shine in a remarkable fashion. The four evangelists, wearing wings, surround his throne under each figures feet is a scroll where is inscribed, in order, the beginning of each of their gospels. Matthew in the figure of a man, to the right at the top, and Luke, in the features of an ox, is found below; John, as an eagle, is to the left at the top, and Mark, in the aspect of a lion, is sculpted below; to the side of the throne of our Lord, their are two Angels: a cherubim to the right, under the feet of Luke and a seraphim to the left under the feet of Mark; they are sculpted in a remarkable fashion.
Two rows of precious stones of all types, of which one encircles the throne or seat of the Lord and the other enframes the chasse, and three stones joined to figure the divine Trinity, form a magnificent ensemble.
But a person of note has affixed with gold studs the portrait of St. Gilles in enamel, by love of the holy confessor, at the foot of the chasse on the side facing the altar; one still sees him there today, for the glory of God.
On the other face of the chasse, on the back, the Ascension of Christ is represented. On the first register six apostles, their eyes raised, look at the Lord climbing to heaven; above their heads, these words are written: "O men of Galilee, He who rises from the middle of you, will return to you who have seen Him."
On the second register is found the six other apostles in the same attitude, but columns of gold separate them on each side. On the third register, the Lord is placed on a throne of gold and two angels are before Him, one to the right, and the other to the left of the throne, show him to the apostles with their hands, one hand pointing to above, the other towards below.
And above the divine head, above the throne, is a dove, which appears to fly above Him. On the fourth register, at the top, God is represented, sculpted on another throne of gold, having about Him the four Evangelists: Luke in the form of an ox towards the middle at the bottom, and Matthew in the figure of a man, above. On the other side, towards the north, is Mark, at the bottom, in the guise of a lion, and John, above, in the form of an eagle. It is important to note that the Christ of Majesty who is on the throne is not seated, but before it, the back turned towards the south and head lifted up, looks towards Heaven; his right hand is raised and in the left he holds a small cross; it is thus how he ascended towards his Fater, who, at the summit of the chasse, receives him.
Such is the tomb of the blessed Gilles, confessor, in which his venerable body lies with honor. The Hungarians who pretend to have his body should be ashamed; the monks of Chamalières, who think they have his entire body should be troubled; the people of Saint-Séquanais, who pride themselves on having his head, should be confounded; and even the Normans of Cotentin who claim to have his entire body should be troubled by fear, because in no way could have his sacred bones, with much consent, be transported from this place. Some people have once tried fraudulously to have stolen the venerable arm of the blessed confessor out of the land of Gilles to distant shores, but they could not by an means go with it.
There are four saints' bodies which, one says, can never be moved from their tombs, if one believes numerous testimonies: those of Saint James, the son of Zebedee, of blessed Martin of Tours, of St. Léonard of Limousin, and of blessed Gilles, confessor of Christ. One recounts that Philip, king of France, tried once to carry these bodies to France, but he could not raise them from their tombs.
Those who go to St. James by the road from Toulouse ought to pay a visit to the body of the blessed confessor William. The very saintly standard bearer William was a count in the entourage of king Charlemagne, and not leastly, was a very courageous soldier, expert in the things of war; it is him who by his courage and valor submitted, one says the towns of Nîmes and Orange among many others to the Christian order and carried the wood of the cross of our Saviour to the Gellone valley where he lead a hermetic life and where this confessor of Christ, after his blessed end, reposes surrounded with honor. His feast is celebrated on May 28....
Burgundians and Germans who go to St. James by the route from Le Puy ought to venerate the relics of Ste. Foy, virgin and martyr, whose very saintly spirit, after the executioners had cut off her head on the mountain of the town of Agen, was carried to heaven by choirs of Angels in the form of a dove and crowned with laurels of immortality. When the blessed Caprais, bishop of the town of Agen, who, to flee the violence of persecution, hid himself in a grotto, had seen that, found the courage to support the martyr, he went to the place where the virgin had suffered and gained in a courageous combat the palm of martyrdom.
Ultimately the very precious body of the blessed Foy, virgin and martyr, was buried with honor by the Christians in a valley called vulgarly Conques; built a beautiful basilica above in which by the glory of God to this day the rule of St. Benedict is observed with great care; many graces are accorded to those people who come there and to the sick; before the doors of the basilica flows an excellent spring whose virtues are more admirable than one could say. Her feast is celebrated on the sixth of October.
Next, on the route which goes to St. James by way of Saint Léonard, the very holy body of the blessed Mary Magdalene ought to be first and by just rights venerated by pilgrims. She is in fact the glorious Mary who, in the house of Simon the Lepor, washed with her tears the feet of our Saviour, wiped them with her hair, and annointed them with a precious perfume by embracing them, and it is for that that her numerous sins were remitted, because she had much love for him who loves all men, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. It is she who, after the ascension of the Lord, leaving the regions of Jerusalem with the blessed Maximin, the disciple of Christ, and other disciples of Him, arrived by sea in the country of Provence and disembarked at the port of Marseille.
In this country, she led for several years the hermetic life and finally was buried by this same Maximin who had become the bishop of this town. But after a long time, a certain individual sanctified in the monastic life, of the name of Badilon, transported her precious remains from this town to Vézelay where they remain today in a revered tomb. In this place, a great and very beautiful basilica and abbey of monks was established; the sinner are there, for the love of the saint, remitted by God; sight is given to the blind; speech is given to the mute, the lame are restored, the possessed are delivered and innumerable benefits are granted to the faithful. The solemnities of her feast are celebrated on the twenty-second of July....
...Next to Blaye, on the shore of the sea, it is necessary to request the protection of Saint Romain; in his basilica lies the body of the blessed Roland, martyr; issued from a noble family, count in the retinue of Charlemagne, he was one of the twelve companions in arms, and, moved by the zeal of his faith, he entered Spain to drive out the infidels. His strength was such that at Roncevaux, he split, one says, a rock from the top to the bottom with his sword in three blows; it is recounted also that in sounding his horn, the power of his breath split the same rock across the middle. This ivory horn is found in Bordeaux in the basilica of Saint Seurin and on the rock of Roncevaux, a church has been built. After having, in numerous wars, vanquished kings and peoples, Roland drained by hunger, excessive hot and cold, stuck by violent blows and pierced by lances, this valorous martyr of Christ died, they say, of thirst in this valley of Roncevaux. His very holy body was buried with respect by his companions in the basilica of Saint-Romain at Blaye.
Then, in Bordeaux, one ought to pay a visit to the body of the blessed Seurin, bishop and confessor; his feast is celebrated on the twenty-third of October.
In the same land of Bordeaux, in a small village called Belin, one ought to visit the bodies of the holy martyrs Olivier, Gondebaud, king of Frisia, Ogier, king of Dacia, Arastain, king of Britanny, Garin, duke of Lorraine, and many other companions in arms of Charlemagne who, after having vanquished the pagan armies, were massacred in Spain for the Faith of Christ. Their companions carried their precious bodies to Belin and buried them there with much regard. It is there that they lie together in the same tomb; a very sweet perfume emanates there which cures the sick....
One ought to visit the bodies of saints Facond and Primitif whose basilica was constructed by Charlemagne; near their city, there is a field planted with trees which, they say, spear shaped leaves sprout from warriors' lances planted in the ground. Their feast is celebrated on the twenty-seventh of November....
Finally, it is to the very holy body of the blessed apostle James, in the town of Compostela, that one ought above all and with the most devotion pay a visit.
That all these saints just as all the other saints of God help us by their merits and by their prayers before Our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns in God for eternity. Amen.
Between two rivers of which one is called
the Sar and the other the Sarela, rises the town of Compostella;
the Sar is to the east, between the Mountain of Joy and the town;
the Sarela is to the west. The town has seven gates or entries.
The first is called the French Gate; the second is the Gate of
Peña; the third, the Below the Brothers; the fourth, the
Gate of the Holy Pilgrim; the fifth, the Gate of Falgueriis which
leads to "Petronus"; the sixth, the Gate of "Susannis";
the seventh, the Gate of "Marcelli" by which the precious
liquor of Bacchus enters the town.
In this town, there are ten churches of which the first is that of the very glorious Apostle James, the son of Zebedee, which, situated in the middle of the town, shines in glory; the second, erected in honor of the blessed Apostle Peter is an abbey of monks situated near the road from France; the third, Saint Michael, surnamed of the Cistern; the fourth, constructed in honor of Saint Martin, bishop, is calle the Pinario, it is also an abbey of monks; the fifth, of the Holy Trinity, receives the remains of pilgrims; the sixth, dedicated to St. Susanna, virgin, is near the road of "Petronus"; the seventh to Saint Felix, martyr; the eighth to Saint Benedict; the ninth to St. Pelagius, martyr, is behind the basilica of Saint James; the tenth, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is behind the church of Saint James and has an entry in basilica between the altar of Saint Nicholas and that of the Holy Cross.
The basilica of Saint James measures in
length fifty-three times the size of a man, from the west door
to the altar of the Holy Saviour; in width forty times less one,
from the French Door to the South Door; while the interior elevation,
is fourteen men high....
The church has nine naves in its lower part and six in the upper part, and a head [chapel] larger than the others where is found the altar of the Holy Saviour, a crown [ambulatory], a body [nave] and two members [arms of the transept] and eight other small heads [chapels]; in each of these is found an altar.
Of the nine naves, we say that there are six small ones [side aisles] and three large ones [naves proper]; the first which is the principal nave goes from the west door to the pillars in the middle which, numbering four, dominate the whole church; this nave is flanked to the right by a small nave [side aisle] and to the left by another. The two other large naves form two arms of which one goes from the French Door to the four pillars of the cross [crossing of the transept] and the other does from these pillars to the south door. They each have two lateral small naves.
These three principal naves rise to the top of the church while the six side aisle rise only to the medie cindrie.
Each of the large naves measure in width eleven and a half times the size of a man; we estimate the size of a man as eight palms.
In the large nave, there are twenty-nine pillar, fourteen to the right, and the same to the left and an single one which is found between the two portals on the interior bars the west and which divides the ciborii [entry passages]; in the naves which form the cross [transept] of this curch, from the French Door to that of the south, there are twenty-six pillars, twelve to the right and others to the left and two placed before the doors on the interior, which divide the ciborii [entry passages] and the portals.
In the crown [ambulatory] of the church, there are eight isolated columns about the altar of the Saint James. The six small naves of the church which are found above in the palace [gallery] of the church are equal in length and width to the small naves [side aisles] which correspond to them below....
In this church there are no fissures or faults; it is admirably constructed, large, spacious, bright, harmonious in dimensions, well proportioned in length, height, and width, in appearance it is more admirable than one could express and it is constructed even "in double" [having two levels] like a royal palace.
He who goes up from the nave to the "palace" [gallery], if he is sad when he ascends, will be happy and consoled after having contemplated the perfect beauty of this church.
There are sixty-two windows furnished with glass found in this basilica. Above each of the altars which surround the ambulatory, there are three; in the higher parts of the basilica surrounding the altar of Saint James, there are five windows which brightly light the altar of Saint James; in the palace [gallery] there are forty-three windows.
This church has three principal portals and seven small ones; one which faces the west, one faces to the south, and another facing north; and for each principal portal, there are two entries and each entry has two doors. The first of the seven small portals is called the Portal of Notre Dame, the second, of the Sacred Way, the third, of St. Pelagius, the fourth of the chapter, the fifth of the "Petraria", the sixth the same, the seventh, of the grammar school; it gives access also to the Archbishops palace.
When we, people of France, want to enter the basilica of the apostle, we enter by the north side. Before the door is found on the side of the road the hospice of poor pilgrims of St. James, and beyond, bordering the road, a "paradisum" [square] spreads which one can enter by descending nine steps. At the base of the steps in this "paradisum" one finds an admirable fountain which has no parallel in the whole world. This fountain rests on a three level socle which supports a very beautiful stone bassin, round and hollow, which has the form of a cup or of a tub and which is so large that fifteen people, it seems to me, could bathe with ease. In the middle rises a column of bronze which is larger at the base and carries seven square panels [ the column is heptagonal], it is of a well proportioned height. At the top appear four lions, from the moths of these spout four streams of water for the use of pilgrims of St. James and of the inhabitants; the water which comes out of the mouths of the lions falls into the bassin below; from there, it passes through an opening in the conch and is lost in the ground. Thus, one can neither see from where the water comes or where it goes; even more, this water is sweet, fortifying, healthy, clear, excellent, warm in winter, cool in summer. On the base of the columns, the following inscription is engraved in this fashion:
+I, Bernard, treasurer of St. James, have led the water here and constructed this monument for the salvation of my soul and of those of my parents, the third of the ides of April in the year of the era 1160 [April 11, 1122].
After the fountain one finds as we have said the "paradisum" [parvi or square]; its pavement is of stone; it is there that are sold to pilgrims small shell of fish which are the badges of St. James; there are sold also goatskins of wine, shoes, purses, straps, belts and all sorts of medicinal herbs and other drugs, and many other tings as well. One encounts also on the French Road, changers, inns, and diverse merchants.
The dimensions of the "paradisum" are, in length and width, of a stone throw.
After this "paradisum", one finds the north portal of the basilica of St. James, called the French Door. It has two entries which are both decorated with beautiful sculpture. Each entry includes on the exterior six columns, some of marble, others of stone, three to the right and three to the left..., this makes in total twelve columns. On the wall above the column which is between the two doors on the exterior, the Lord is seated in majesty giving his benediction with his right hand and holding a book in his left. All about this throne and seemingly supporting it, one sees the four evangelists. On the right, the sculpture represents Paradise where the Lord appears again reproaching Adam and Eve for there sin; and on the left, there is found still another representation of the Lord, expelling them from Paradise.
In addition, there are sculpted all about the holy figures, beasts, men, angles, women, flowers, and other creatures of which we can not give a description and their character because of their large number. We will say however that above the left door, on entering the basilica, on the tympanum, the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is represented, with the Angel Gabriel who speaks to her. On the left also, above the doors, on the sides, are represented the months of the year and many other beautiful works of sculpture. Two large, ferocious lionsare found against the wall on the exterior, their stare is fixed always to watch the entrance, one on the right and the other one the left. On the jambs, four apostles are represented, each holding a book in the left hand and appearing to bless with their right hand raised to the faithful who enter the basilica. On the left door, Peter is found on the right and Paul to the left; and on the right door, there is the apostle John who is to the right and St. James to the left. Above the head of each apostle, heads of cattle are sculpted in high relief.
The south portal of the apostolic basilica
includes as we have said two door and four entrances. On the right
door, there has been sculpted on the first register above the
doors the Betrayal of Christ in a remarkable fashion. Here, Our
Lord is attached to the column by the hands of the Jews; here
he is flagellatedl there, Pilate is seated in his tribunal in
order to judge him. Above, on another register, the Blessed Virgin,
mother of the Lord, is represented with her son in Bethlehem as
the three kings come to visit the infant and his mother, and offer
their three presents, then the state and the angel advising them
not to return to Herod. On the jambs of this same door which appear
to guard the entry, there are two apostles, the one on the right,
the other on the left. On the left door, there are on the jambs
two other apostles; on the first register above the entry is sculpted
the Temptation of Christ; there is in effect before Christ some
hideous angels ressembling monster which are placed on top of
the temple; others present him stones, inviting him to change
them into bread; others show him the kingdoms of the world, feigning
to give them to him if, falling to his knees before them, he aodres
them- that God forbids! But other pure angles, the good angels,
some behind him, others in front of him, come to cense him and
Four lions are found on this portal, one to the right and one to the left of each entrance; between these two entries, above the trumeau, there are two other fierce lions placed bak to back. Eleven columns flank this portal: on the right entry, five to the right and five to the right and to the left entry; the same on the left entry; the eleventh is found between the two doors dividing the "ciborii" [entry passages].
These columns are some of marble and the others of stone admirably sculpted with diverse figures: flowers, men, birds, animals. The marble of these columns is white. It is important not to forget to mention the woman which is found on the side of the Temptation of Christ: she holds between her hands the unclean head of her seductor who was beheaded by her own husband and then two times each day on the order of him, she is made to embrace the head. O what terrible and admirable punishment of the adulterous woman, that it ought to be told to all!
On the upper part, above the other works of these opening, near the high galleries of the basilica, an admirable decoration made of white marble shines magnificently. It is there, in effect, that our Lord is represented, standing with Saint Peter to His left, holding the keys in his hands and the blessed James to the right between two cypresses, and St. John his brother, next to him; finally to the right and to the left, are other apostles. Above and below, to the right and to the left, all thewall is magnificently decorated with flowers, men, saints, animals, birds, fisht, and other sculptures that we can not describe in detail. But it is important to note the four angels which are found above the "ciborii" [entry passages], each with a trumpet to announce the day of Judgment.
The west port, with its two entires, surpasses by its beauty, its grandeur, and the work of its decoration the other portals. It is more large and more beautiful than the others and executed in a more admirable fashion...; it is flanked by diverse columns of marble and is decorated by a variety of figures and ornaments: men, women, animals, birds, saints, angels, flowers, and ornaments of all types. Its deocration is so rich that we can no describe it in detail. However, we will point out, at the top, the Transfiguration of Our Lord, such as took place on Mount Thabor and which is sculpted with magnificent art. Our Lord is there, in a dazzling cloud, his face shines like the son, his clothing shines like snow, and the Father at the top speaking to him; and one sees there Moses and Elias who appear at the same time as Him and converse about his destiny which will be fulfilled in Jerusalem. There also is Saint James with Peter and John who, before all others, Our Lord showed his Transfiguration.
There will be nine towers in this church; two above the portal of the fountain [north portal] and two above the south portal; two above the west portal and two above each spiral staircase and the largest surmounts the crossing of the transept in the middle of the basilica. By that and by the other very beautiful details of this work, the basilica of Saint James shines in magnificent glory. It is entirely constructed in very solid stones...; on the interior, it is decorated by a variety of painting and one the exterior perfectly covered with tiles and lead. But of all which we have said, only a part is completely finished, the rest needs to be completed.
The altars of the basilica are found in this order; first, near the French Portal, which is to the left, the altar of Saint Nicholas, then the altar of the Holy Cross, then in the crown [ambulatory] the altar of the St. Foy, virgin, then the altar of Saint John the apostle and evangelist, brother of St. James, then the altar of the Holy Saviour, in the great absidial chapel, then the altar of St. Peter, then the altar of St. Andrew, then the altar of St. Martin, bishop, then the altar of St. John the Baptist. Between the altar of St. James and the altar of the Holy Saviour is found the altar of St. Mary Magdalene where one chants for the pilgrims the morning masses. Above, in the palace [gallery] of the church, there are three altars; the main altar is dedicated to St. Michael, the Archangel, another to the right which is dedicated to St. Benedict and another which is to the left under the patronage of Sts. Paul, the Apostle, and Nicholas, the Bishop; it is there that is found the chapel of the Archbishop.
Up to here we have spoken of the characteristic of the church, now it is necessary for us to treat the venerable altar of the Apostle. In this venerable basilica, lies, according to tradition, the revered body of St. James beneath the main altar magnificently constructed in his honor; he is contained in a marble tomb that houses a very beautiful vaulted sepulcher of admirable work and of suitable dimensions.
It is certain that his body is placed there, forever immovable, if one believes in the witness of St. Theodemir, bishop of this town, who discovered it and never succeeded in displacing it.
There are confused rivals beyond the mountains who claim to have some parts or conserve relics of him. In fact, the body of the Apostle is here in its entirety, this divinely illuminated body by the paradisiacal carbuncles, without ceasing graced by sweet divine perfumes, adorned by the radiance of celestial flames and devotedly attended by eager angels.
On his sepulcher is placed a modest altar, they say, by his disciples, and that by love for the apostle and his disciples no one has wished to destroy it. And above is found another grand and admirable altar which measures in height five palms, in length twelve and in width seven.
Such are the measurements taken by my own hands. The small altar is thus enclosed undr the large by three sides, to the right, to the left, and by the back, but the front part is left open. in such a way, that one can see the old altar very well when the silver altar frontal is removed.
Whoever wishes, for devotion to St. James, to send an altar cloth or a cloth to cover the altar of the Apostle, the dimensions ought to be nine palms wide and twenty-one long, but if one wishes to offer for the love of God and of the Apostle an altar frontal, it should measure seven palms in width and thirteen in length.
The altar frontal which is before the altar is a magnificent work in gold and silver. In the middle is sculpted the throne of Our Lord surrounded by the twenty-four elders arranged as the blessed John, brother of St. James saw them in his Apocalypse, that is to say that there are twelve to the right and the same to the left in a circle, holding in their hands cithars and vials full of perfume. In the middle sits Our Lord, as on a throne of Majesty, having in his left hand the book of life and blessing with his right hand. About the throne and seeming to support it, are found the four evangelists; the twelve apostles are arranged from right to the left; three one a first register to the right and three above there are the same to the left three on the first register at the bottom and three above. Finally, magnificent flowers are placed all around and some very beautiful colums separate the apostles. This altar frontal of a remarkable and perfect work carries at the top this inscription in verse"
"Diego II, bishop of St. James, made this altar frontal in the fifth year of his episcopate . It cost the treasury of St. James eighty marks of sliver less five."
And at the base this other inscription:
"The King was Alfonse, duke, and his son-in-law Raymond, the bishop, when this work was completed by the said Diego."
The ciborium which covers this venerable altar is admirably decorated on the intertior and exterior by paintings, by a variety of designs and ornaments. In a square plan, it rests on four columns and its proportions in height and width are harmonious.
On the interior, on the first register, some female figures, eight in number, represent the virtues particularly celebrated by St. Paul; in each corner, there two. Above their heads, some standing angels support with their raised hands the throne which is found at the top of the ciborium; in the middle of this throne is found the Lamb of God holding the cross with his feet. There are as many angels as virtues.
On the exterior, on the first register, four angels announce by the sound of the trumpet the resurrection on the Day of Judgment; there are two on the front face and two on the back. On the same level, are found four prophets: Moses and Abraham on the left face and Isaac and Jacob on the right; they each have a scroll in their hands where are written their particular prophesies.
On the upper register, the two apostles are seated all about the ciborium; on the front face, the first, the blessed James is in the middle, holding in his left hand a book and with his right giving his benediction; and to his right right is another apostle and to his left a second, on the same level. On the right face of the baldachino there are three other apostles and to the left three others and the same on the back. Above on the roof of the canopy, four angles are seated as if they guard the altar; in addition on the four corners of the ciborium at the bottom of the canopy, the four evangelists are sculpted with their distinctive traits.
The interior is painted whereas the exterior is decorated with sculptures and paintings; at the summit, of the exterior, is places a small, triple arcuated monument on which the divine Trinity is sculpted; under the first arch, which is turned towards the west, is the person of the Father; under the second, towards the south and east, is the person of the Son, and under the third arch turned towards the north is the person of the Holy Spirit. In addition, at the very top, is a resplendent sliver orb on which is placed a precious cross.
Before the altar of St. James, three large, silver lamps are suspended in honor of Christ and of the apostle. That in the middle is very large and resembles a large cap admirably worked; it carries seven holders where seven lamps are placed to figure the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; there is put there only the oil of balsam or of myrtle or of "balanus" or of olive, The middle holder is larger than the others; on each of those flanking, two figures of apostles are sculpted on the outside.
For the eternal repose in peace of the soul of King Alfonse of Aragon who, as it is said, gave these to St. James.