Thursday, July 25, 2013

Santiago de Compostela

Cathedral of St James in Compostela, Spain
I had every intention today to write about this beautiful Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, this being the feast of Saint James (Santiago in Spanish.) However I offer a prayer today for the over 80 victims of a train tragedy that occurred yesterday, precisely as it approached this pilgrimage site from Madrid. I presume that many of the victims were pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela to celebrate the feast of St James. Hundreds of people make a traditional walk through the northern part of Spain every year, hiking with friends, sleeping in motels and special resting places, dividing their pilgrimage over a few weeks or months. The Cathedral itself was started in 1075 and finished in 1211 and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. 
The elaborate facade of the Cathedral, completed in 1211
The Cathedral is the reputed burial-place of St James the apostle, and it is the destination of the Way of St James, the historical pilgrimage route since the Early Middle Ages. The building is a Romanesque structure with later Gothic and Baroque additions. According to legend, the apostle Saint James the Greater brought Christianity to the Celts in the Iberian Peninsula. In 44 AD he was beheaded in Jerusalem. His remains were later brought back to Galicia, Spain.
Let us today remember the victims of this unfortunate tragedy, and may God give consolation to their families and relatives and heal the survivors.

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