March 10, 2010



Cultural evolution and iconographic changes

Mr. José Manuel García Iglesias.
University of Santiago de Compostela

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela bears witness, in a remarkable way, to the cultural evolution and iconographic changes linked to the cult of St. James. In the first place, the special patron saint, St. James the Greater, since the cult of his relics is the particular justification of the basilica itself and the pilgrimage to it.

Santiago el Mayor is present both in its interior and in the set of squares that surround the temple. Under the presbytery, in the crypt, is the apostolic urn. On the altar, he appears seated. On top of the dressing room is a pilgrim venerated by the kings. When he centers the baldachin, he is recognized as a knight in a singular struggle, and above, culminating it all, is his tomb guarded by angels.

The monstrance and the Renaissance pulpits also speak of his vocation, martyrdom and miracles, as can also be seen in the group of paintings of the conference room Capitular where his coronation is also contemplated.

If we walk through the squares of Azabachería, Quintana, Platerías and Obradoiro - which surround the basilica - the iconographic testimonies of St. James are equally important. 

The other apostle Santiago - Santiago the Lesser or Santiago Alfeo - has, likewise, a special cult in Compostela since, at the beginning of the 12th century, his head arrived at this same temple.

Battle of Clavijo. file cathedral. Santiago de Compostela

Battle of Clavijo. file cathedral. Santiago de Compostela