The origins of the cathedral

Even today, there is still some debate on how much truth there is in this story, and if the remains that were found in what was once a Roman necropolis are indeed those of the Apostle St. James.

But what is certain is that, from the 9th century onwards, he went from being a little-known saint to gaining huge popularity, after a hermit claimed that at night in the forest, shining lights and showers of stars could be seen. This was the so-called Campus Stellae, or Field of Stars. Bishop Teodomiro identified the place as the tomb of the apostle St. James the Greater and news of the discovery spread rapidly.

A hermitage was built over the mausoleum but soon proved to be too small and was replaced by a basilica, which also became too small to hold all the pilgrims who were drawn to the place because of all the miracles that the apostle St. James was said to perform. Besides resurrecting the dead and releasing captives, the saint also healed the sick. This was a very important issue for people at a time when only divine intervention could cure the incurable.

It has been calculated that from the 11th to the 13th century, when pilgrimages were at their height, between 250.000 and 500.000 people arrived in Santiago every year. This was a very large number, considering the population and means of transport available at the time.

This number of visitors meant a Cathedral was required that was worthy of the greatest centre of pilgrimage in the Western world, and of a saint who stood as the symbol of the Christian struggle against Islam. The impressive church we can admire today was built in the Romanesque style. It was started in the 11th century and completed almost in the following century.

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

Picture: Theodomir Bishop
Source: This work is in the public domain in the European Union, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.