20 May 2008
The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, goal of the Way.
Mr. José Manuel García Iglesias
Full Professor History of Art. University of Santiago de Compostela
Speech by Ms. Mª Victoria Arraiza, president of the Friends of the Pilgrims' Route to Santiago (Navarre). Next to her, at the table, the speaker and Ms. Concepción García Gainza.
The very being of the basilica of Santiago de Compostela has an initial justification that has been maintained, over the centuries, as its very foundation: to guard and honour the tomb of the Apostle St. James the Greater, discovered in the lands of Galicia, in the Iberian "finisterre" of Europe, in the 9th century.
At that very moment, with the recognition of that tomb by those who represented the Asturian monarchy - Alfonso II - the value of the findingwas made official and the news reached the furthest corners of the world where Christianity is present, thus summoning the visitto the Holy Place.
After the first pre-Romanesque constructions, which dignified the site of the tomb, and as early as 1075, the construction of the present church began in its Romanesque configuration. modelHistoriography has consecrated the denomination of a temple, linked to the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago, called "pilgrimage church", which reaches its culmination precisely in this Compostelan exponent, in such a way that, from its very beginnings, the Cathedral of St. James formally synthesises, in its architecture, the constructive creativity - with its functional demands - of the Pilgrim's Way.
Image of the Apostle, Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
In the 17th century, the reign of Philip IV saw the formalisation, in the royal core topicand as a permanent obligation, of the offering relationship of the Hispanic monarchy with the Apostle St. James the Greater, patron saintof Spain. In this way, the King - or his Royal Delegate - became, symbolically, a Wayfarer who appears twice a year, before the tomb, to submita specific Offering. In this context, the Baroque adorns the temple and accumulates functions in favour of the cult itself.
In time - and with a changing speechover the centuries - the anonymous pilgrim formalised his own ritual in core topicof his own way: admiring the relics, embracing the Saint, seeing the "Botafumeiro" fly, visiting the tomb, "touching" the Portico de la Gloria are to be understood as particular devotional experiences proper to the Cathedral of Santiago, goalof the Way.
Façade of the Obradoiro before and after the Baroque works