Why is it said that Europe was born of the pilgrimages?

The well-known expression arises of the Germanic poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, acknowledged Europeanist

La Europa de las peregrinaciones

La Europa de las peregrinaciones

The germ of coexistence among Europeans

Many of you may have heard the statement of the German poet, playwright and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) "Europe made pilgrimage to Compostela". For many this quotation is considered apocryphal, being able to adjust more to its original words the statement "Europe was born pilgrimage (or pilgrimage)". Whatever Goethe's reflection may have been, it has been closely linked to the concept of the Way of Saint James that we have both Europeans and our community institutions: the Jacobean Route is synonymous with harmony, tolerance, understanding and knowledge, values Council of Europe, which in 1987 declared it European Cultural Itinerary.

But in what facts is Goethe based on this categorical statement? As far as the Camino de Santiago is concerned, we must know that from the tenth century, pilgrims from the Pyrenees began to arrive in the Peninsula to the remains of the Apostle. During the Middle Ages thousands of walkers from the British Isles, France, Italy and the Germanic territories traveled to Compostela, often embarking on a one-way trip. The arrival of these pilgrims, among whom were all sorts of people, from kings to the simplest people, caused that some craftsmen and merchants began to settle around the Camino de Santiago of fixed form attracted by the commerce.

In the area of ​​the Camino de Santiago, both in the spanish peninsula and in the network of routes that were woven to the Pyrenees, began to develop cultural and economic exchange between people. The exchange was not only of merchandise, but of knowledge, the pilgrims transmitting their knowledge of each other both to the journey and to the return of their journey to Compostela, which greatly contributed to the understanding and concord between the first European pilgrims.

On the other hand, the kings of Spain made the decision to support the pilgrims who came to their lands with generous means, knowing that this phenomenon not only had a religious background, but also greatly benefited commerce. The Crown provided protection and privileges to these travelers to Santiago; The privileges enjoyed by those who passed were able to introduce or take away all the property they thought appropriate or to stay in shelters and hospitals, as well as a certain confidence that they would not be easily deceived or assaulted due to the important punishments imposed on the malefactors.



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