The Chamber and St. James' relics

A green light indicates the door leading to the small chamber of the Apostle St. James. For centuries, after many hard days of travelling, thousands of pilgrims have been filled with emotion as they embraced this statue of the saint. If you are a traveller on your way through, but would still like to show your respect for the saint and the ancient tradition, feel free to go on up and perform this simple but significant gesture.

Next to the exit from the chamber, there is another green light that shows you the way down to the crypt, where the remains of the saint are buried.

Are you in the crypt now? What you can see here in this underground area is the result of a 19th -century restoration process. Above the altar of this small chapel, beyond the grille and the prie-dieu where worshippers kneel to pray, lies a richly embossed silver chest. Inside this fine piece of 19th-century silverwork there is a cedar box, divided into compartments containing the remains of the apostle and his two disciples.

The relics that have been placed here have been depleted on numerous occasions. For instance, one bone was apparently given to Charlemagne to thank him for his support of the Compostelan pilgrimage. After much debate as to which was the most noble bone, he was given the bone of the forehead, as this was the place where Jesus would have kissed his disciples.

Before you leave, take a look at the narrow passage with the rows of bricks. It was there that the remains of the disciples Athanasius and Theodore were supposedly found. They are the only visible remains of the original tomb.

Now let’s go up to the ambulatory again and visit the chapels in this area around the High Altar.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Diego Laforga Marcos

Picture: The embrace of the apostle
Source: Own work
Author: Diego Laforga (2013)

Picture: Saint James tomb
Source: Wiki Commons
Author: Le Galicien (2007)
Licence: I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain.