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(360 words)

Author(s): Jorge Abril Sánchez
The seizure of León by King Ordoño I of Asturias around 850 signals the beginning of the religious primacy of the Castilian city. This preeminence was confirmed by King Ordoño II of León, who made it the capital of the Leonese Kingdom in 914. Repopulated by Mozarabs, León became a way station for Christian pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela or Oviedo. The massive arrival of devotees during the eleventh century influenced its urban development. Pilgrims entered the city by the suburb of the Saint Sepulcher, in which Doña Urraca, Infanta of Castile, had ordere…

Compostela, Routes to

(889 words)

Author(s): Jorge Abril Sánchez
The Camino de Santiago, or Way of Saint James, is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, in the northwest of Spain, where the remains of the apostle Saint James the Great are thought to be buried. The discovery of the relics of the saint in the year 812 led to the foundation of a temple and the birth of a pilgrimage. Despite being soon considered a major Christian peregrinatio ad loca sancta to earn plenary indulgences in medieval times, the Way of Saint James did not have a single route. Like the grooves of a shell (Saint James's symbol),…


(376 words)

Author(s): Jorge Abril Sánchez
Founded in the 880s, after King Alfonso III, the Great, reconquered Castile, Burgos was planned to protect the Christian population along the northern frontier. The city's religious primacy was reinforced upon its election by Pope Gregory VII and Alfonso VI, the Brave, as Caput Castellae and the see of a Catholic bishop in 1075. The arrival of French romeo mercatores via the Way of Saint James did not only mean a major boost for trade, but also led to the development of the urban center known as Caput Peregrinacionis: the hospital of Saint John was constructed; monasteries such as …


(380 words)

Author(s): Jorge Abril Sánchez
The Christian origins of Zaragoza date back to the year 39 AD, when the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared on the banks of the Ebro river to Saint James the Greater. The apostle had been unsuccessfully carrying out missionary work in Roman Hispania. On this occasion, the Mother of God was seen sitting on a pillar, accompanied by thousands of angels. Mary is believed to have come from Palestine to order the disciple to erect a temple where persecuted Christian pilgrims could be comforted. Archeological studies tell us that a Visigothic church dedicated to Saint Vincent was later built. By the …

Spanish Sites

(886 words)

Author(s): Jorge Abril Sánchez
Apart from the most important Way of Saint James (see also Santiago de Compostela), Spain is a nation of other great devotions to relics and statues with strong ties in the popular tradition. In the Middle Ages, burial sites and churches in the Kingdom of Asturias even competed with Santiago de Compostela for the attraction of pilgrims. This religious importance was specifically due to the treasure guarded at the Holy Chamber of the cathedral of Oviedo, the second most venerated sanctuary among …