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When did the Camino de Santiago begin?

The Camino de Santiago is one of the most popular pilgrimages today and thousands of people travel it every year. Many know their routes and the cathedral and everything related to the Camino de Santiago, however they do not know its history and when it originated.

Camino de Santiago - Joel Carillet/iStock

Camino de Santiago - Joel Carillet/iStock

What is the origin of the Camino de Santiago?

James was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. Although in his name it was actually Jacob, we now know him as Santiago by the derivation of his Latin name Santus lacobus. Some time after the resurrection of Jesus, Herod Agrippa I, who at that time was the King of the Jews, ordered the assassination of James in Jerusalem, who was beheaded becoming the first martyred apostle. According to tradition, the remains of the apostle were recovered by his disciples Atanasio and Teodoro, who embarked with them towards the Iberian peninsula.

After 7 days of crossing, the disciples of the apostle Santiago, arrived at the port of Iria Flavia in Galicia to be able to locate the tomb of the apostle there. After encountering different situations of danger, they finally reach the forest of Libredón where they decided to bury the apostle.

The story of the transfer of the apostle to Santiago de Compostela is collected in the Calixtino codex. The Calixtino codex is the book that recounts the data of the translation of the body of the Apostle Santiago from Jerusalem to the Galician lands, as well as how his disciples stole his remains to be able to bury him and thereby make Santiago a center of pilgrimage.

When did the Camino de Santiago begin?

In the ninth century, the Bishop of Iria Flavia was informed that a star had landed in the forest of Libredón. This bishop, called Teodomiro, approached that place and discovered there, the tomb of the Apostle Santiago. After this great discovery, the bishop informed the monarch who ruled at that time, Alfonso II, who was in Oviedo. Given the importance of the news, the monarch himself moved from the place where he was to be able to verify with his own eyes that this fact was true, being the first to make a section of what we know today as the Primitive Way and becoming, by chance , on the first pilgrim of the Camino de Santiago.

Once he made sure of the discovery of the remains of the Apostle, it was when the Camino de Santiago was created since the monarch himself ordered that a sepulcher be built in that place so that anyone who wanted it could worship him, starting from that moment pilgrimages from all parts of Spain and much of Europe.

With the news covering more and more places and the tomb already built, many people visited the Apostle's tomb daily to show their respects. However, it was not until the conqueror Charlemagne got the roads leading there much safer, that the number of visitors began to rise significantly.

In 1884 the Camino de Santiago returned to have great popularity

The popularity of the tomb of the Apostle grew more and more with the passing of days and in just a century later thousands of pilgrims from all over Europe made long journeys to visit it, thus beginning the beginning of pilgrimages to Compostela. This influx of pilgrims caused both the clergy and the noblest families to adapt the old Roman roads and roads, and build bridges, hospices and hospitals where pilgrims could access. Parallel to the adequacy of the roads and areas of the Jacobean route, the tomb was evolving and increasing until we became the one we know today, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which achieved its greatest splendor in the 12th century.

However, when the fourteenth century arrived the number of pilgrims and the popularity of the Camino de Santiago declined, due to the economic and political problems of the time. This fact worsened with the crises and wars of the following century, and although some time later they were able to recover some popularity, new scientific discoveries negatively influenced him.

It was not until 1884 that the Camino de Santiago returned to have great popularity, when Pope Leo XIII declared that the remains found were really those of the Apostle and the Jacobean route was named as a World Heritage Site. From that moment and together with the declaration of the Camino de Santiago as a European Cultural Itinerary, the pilgrim flow increased enormously, being able to be currently at its peak with the visit of more than 300,000 pilgrims from all parts of the world, only during the year 2019, for its different routes, being one of the most popular the French Way and the Northern Way.

The number of pilgrims who make the Camino de Santiago increases every year that passes, especially when we find a holy year, that is, how much on July 25, the feast of Santiago Apostle, falls on Sunday.

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