El Camino de Santiago (St. James’ Way)
The Way of St. James, also known as the Camino de Santiago in Spanish, was the first element that acted as a backbone in the old continent.
The discovery of the tomb of the first martyr apostle meant finding an undisputed reference point, where a plurality of conceptions coming from different Christian people with a need of unity could converge.
Aware of the importance that it meant having a relic such as the remains of James, son of Zebedee, for their military interests (they needed warriors and money in their fight against the Moors), Spanish monarchies actively collaborated in the success of the Holy Way.
The kings of Aragon, Navarre and Castille strived to attract rich and powerful people from other countries to their domains, using all the means within their reach to seduce them: exchange of gifts, marriage policies and the proclamation of favours given by the Apostle if one went to visit his tomb.
The belief in the miracles of James The Greater, which increasingly extended itself, made the people start a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela to obtain his grace. The first known pilgrim was Gotescalco, Bishop of Puy (950 AD), who travelled there together with an important committee; later on, Raimundo II, Marquee of Gothia, was murdered during his pilgrimage and a century later the Archbishop of Lyon also visited the Way. Together with these illustrious pilgrims, people from all faiths also endured the pilgrimage, which was ever increasing in numbers.
The Way of St. James has inextricably brought culture, education and information together. When people told, preached, sung, sculpted or painted on the Way, it always reached more people and places. Thanks to its influx in art and literature, Compostela, together with Jerusalem and Rome, became a focus point of Christian society, especially from the 11th century until the 14th.
The Way, a phenomenon of Jacobean pilgrimage, ended up being a catalyst for the whole of Christian society.