Today is the feast day of Saint James the Great, the brother of Saint John the Evangelist, a fisherman before he was called to be an apostle of Christ.
- source: British Library: BL Stowe 12, f.279v
St James was the first of the apostles to be martyred and according to tradition at some point thereafter his body was brought to northern Spain. His shrine, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, was a major pilgrimage destination throughout medieval times, third in significance to Rome and Jerusalem. The Way of Saint James, or Camino de Santiago de Compostela, comprised pilgrimage routes that fanned all over Europe, all converging on Spain. In one of those medieval displays of anachronistic artistic logic, St. James is often shown as a medieval pilgrim traveling to his own shrine, decked out with cockle shells, walking stick and drinking gourd, as in the 1320’s English manuscript illustration above.
You can find some general background on the Universalis page about Saint James:.
In every country there are churches of St James and known, well-trodden pilgrim routes. In Paris, the Tour St Jacques marks the start of the route and the Rue St Jacques points straight towards Compostela. In England, pilgrim routes lead from all parts of the country to the major ports that were used on the pilgrimage. This network of routes is a vital witness to the fact that the Middle Ages were not the static stay-at-home time that we often think them to be: everyone must have known someone, or known someone who knew someone, who had made the pilgrimage. The scallop-shell, the emblem of St James, has become the emblem of pilgrims generally. - source
Step into the shoes of some incredible pilgrims! Several young men relay their stories as they embark on an extraordinary pilgrimage along a historic route in Spain known as the Way of St. James. Journey for over 600 miles alongside them, and watch as “El Camino-The Way of Saint James” tests these pilgrims’ physical and spiritual limits when this documentary airs at 5:30 p.m. ET, Friday, July 25—exclusively on #EWTN! Also available through EWTN Religious Catalogue here: http://bit.ly/14jO9R2
To see a wonderful assortment of medieval images and text related to St. James and pilgrimage, click on A Clerk of Oxford’s post:
Since it’s the feast of St James, by medieval tradition the patron of pilgrims, here’s a miscellany of texts touching on pilgrimages, roads, and seeking. - source
Father Steve Grunow of Word on Fire has written a blog post today which gives some background of the Way of Saint James and makes some observations about pilgrimage:
this is precisely the point- a pilgrimage is not a vacation. A pilgrimage is directed by a spiritual itinerary rather than an agenda of leisure. Pilgrimages are about the hard work of conversion, and this interior crucible is externalized in the demands of the journey. The grace offered and accepted in the course of the sacred way is not easy; it is meant to further the transformation of the pilgrim- the fulfillment of which is not simply to view the relics of marvel at the splendor of a shrine, but to become a saint oneself. It is through the journey that one learns that sanctity is a possibility, not just for those men and women of renown who have had great shrines raised in their memory, but for all who would risk following the Lord, trusting in his Provident care, and surrendering to him mastery over one’s life. In these respects, a pilgrimage is a concrete display of the intentionality with which all Christians are invited to live: to be called, commissioned and sent, to be a bold witness to the Gospel in word and in deed, and to remain faithful to one’s mission in all circumstances.
Do read the whole thing. It’s very good and not long.
In a characteristically-short 1 minute video reflection, Cardinal Timothy Dolan reminds us that we are all pilgrims in this life, journeying back to God:
My husband and I were blessed to be able to travel the Way of Saint James by bicycle in 2011. Here are some of my previous posts about Saint James and Santiago de Compostela:
- Quick Takes about Santiago de Compostela for the 2012 Feast of Saint James
+++++++For more quick takes from bloggers near and far, check out this week’s linkup, hosted by Carolyn of Svellerella.