The history of the pilgrimage to Compostela began in 42 AD. BC, by the beheading of the Apostle Jacques Maggiore in Jerusalem on the orders of King Herod Agrippa. After the execution, two disciples of the apostle (Athanasius and Theodore) would have carried his body on a boat, crossed the Mediterranean, bordered the Atlantic coasts of Spain and reassembled the Sar river to reach the holy land where Jacques had preached during his lifetime. Arrived at Padron, Athanasius and Theodore were then landed the sarcophagus for transport to Mount Libradón and bury. It was on this mountain that grew the present town of Santiago de Compostela.
A hermit rediscovered the tomb
In year's 813, inspired by a dream, a hermit would rediscovered this forgotten burial. King of Asturias, Alfonso II, erected a church in the place where the burial. The tomb of St. Jacques quickly becomes a place of pilgrimage for all Christendom. We converged on the spot at the end of the then known along the Milky Way land, road star ... "Compostela" would mean "the road to the stars." All along, pathways are built chapels, monasteries and hospices for pilgrims, their care and restoration. These hospitals also allowed to make the roads safer coquillards where bandits and watched the pilgrim.
The pilgrimage to Santiago fell into oblivion ...
The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries , the peak pilgrimage to Saint Jacques de Compostela , there were a large number of walkers heading west and as much on the way back . Then come the Wars of Religion , the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, periods during which one cares much less walk to Compostela . The supposed tomb of St. Jacques falls into oblivion. Where in the Middle Ages passed a crowd of pilgrims , there are only a few dozen more passengers per year ...
Reborn ... before recently
The pilgrimage is yet revived in 1938 , thanks to the French translation of Book V of the Codex Calixtinus entitled The Pilgrim's Guide . The taste of walking long-term returns , combined with a spiritual quest , and travelogues are increasing in the 1980s. Since the 1990s , a large number of walkers discover paths to Compostella. Markup and accommodation are organized along the various routes .
To go to Compostela , one can from his doorstep ! This was the case in the Middle Ages, it is still true today for most pilgrims. But the majority , for practical reasons or reasons of time , leave a rallying point , the starting point of marked routes where accommodation is more adapted to the steps of the pilgrims.
In France , from home, you can join four main ways :
- Via Podiensis (or path Puy , from Puy -en- Velay ) , the most popular and highly used by pilgrims from Eastern Europe ;
- Via Turonensis (or path Tours) which leaves Paris via Tours and Bordeaux ; it brings pilgrims to the Atlantic coast and northern Europe ;
- Via Lemovicensis (or path Vézelay ) extending from Vézelay through Limoges is used by pilgrims from the north- east;
- Via Tolosana (or route Arles ) is taken by the French and Italians noon .
The first three-way merge cited in the Basque Country to Ostabat near St -Jean- Pied-de- Port , while Tolosana reached the Pyrenees Somport and continues with the Camino Aragonese to Puente la Reina .
The paths are as diverse in Spain :
- The Camino Francés (path from St -Jean- Pied-de -Port to Roncesvalles Pass ), " royal road " to Santiago and by far the busiest road ;
- The Camino del Norte , beautiful way , more "physical" along the Atlantic coast of northern Spain;
- Via de la Plata from Seville in the south of the Iberian Peninsula ;
- Camino del Levante east to west from Valencia through Castile.
Finally, we must mention the path through Portugal from south to north from Lisbon , through Fatima , Coimbra and Porto Via Lusitana ( camino or Portuguese).