viernes, 4 de enero de 2013

Testimonios Peregrinos

Christmas Week in Santiago - after a long, long walk and no cheating

Alan Sykes (The Guardian Blogs) celebrates with his feet up, after walking 1000km (621 miles) from Seville to the pilgrimage city. In his final despatch for the Northerner, he savours the odour of sanctity in the cathedral from a huge incense-burner swung by eight men
A Nativity scene at the  Lazarica Church in Birmingham
Alan Sykes has travelled a long way but found the journey very worthwhile. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
On arriving in Santiago, one of the first things most pilgrims do is head for the pilgrim welcome office to pick up their compostela, the official recognition that you've walked to Santiago, complete with the seal of "capituli Beati Jacobi". The staff check the stamps in your credencial, or pilgrim passport, to check that you've really done the required amount – some people apparently do try to cheat, astonishingly. They then issue you with a Latin document to prove your arrival.
Seville santiago camino Zamora Jupiter in conjunction with the moon over Santiago Cathedral at Christmas At the beginning of the pilgrims' mass in the cathedral each day, the number of pilgrims to have recently arrived is read out. So I was pleased to hear, among the 24 Christmas Eve arrivals, of the achievement of
On Christmas Day, they swung the botafumeiro. This is believed to be the biggest incense censer in the world, weighing 80kg. In the middle ages, the incense was used partly, it is said, to cover up the smell of the unwashed pilgrims. Eight men use a system of ropes to swing it up to 100 yards from the north to the south transepts of the cathedral.
Seville santiago camino Galicia botafumeiro The cathedral's huge incense burner, the Botafumeiro This year, around 192,000 people from 157 countries claimed their compostela, having walked at least the last 100km to the tomb. About 70% walked some or all of the Camino Francés from the Pyrenees, while 4% used the Via de la Plata. The 2011 release of the film "The Way", starring Martin Sheen, is being credited with almost doubling the number of Americans making the camino, from 3700 in 2011 to over 7000 this year.
Seville santiago camino Galicia Compostela issued on 24 December 2012. John Walker, a volunteer at Santiago cathedral's office of pilgrim welcome, is convinced the film has had an effect on numbers: "it's not just American numbers which are up, this year we've also seen very significant increases in the number of pilgrims coming from the UK as well as from virtually all the main English-speaking countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada."
Seville santiago camino Galicia The towers of Santiago Cathedral as viewed from the suburbs on the pilgrim way Santiago is where many believe Spain's patron saint, the apostle St James the Great (Santiago), is buried. A tomb believed to be his was discovered in 881AD, and quickly became a major centre for pilgrimage. The cathedral was built over the supposed tomb of the apostle over the next centuries. Some years before the discovery of the tomb, in 844AD, Santiago is supposed to have appeared in person at the Battle of Clavijo, where the Christian Spaniards defeated the Muslim forces of the Emir of Cordóba during the Christian "reconquista" of Spain. Later accounts claim that Santiago participated in the battle, personally killing many of the enemy troops, and earning himself the title of Matamoros, or "the moor-slayer."
Clearly in the eight centuries since his martyrdom the fisherman had become an expert soldier and rider. Many sculptures and pictures throughout Spain depict him on horseback, armed with a sword and spear, with decapitated and injured bodies of the moors he has killed sprawled on the ground beneath. When General Franco appointed his Moroccan lieutenant Mohammed ben Mizzian as Captain-General of Galicia after the Spanish civil war, the cathedral authorities reputedly found it tactful to cover up or remove some of the gorier depictions of Santiago Matamoros. Today one of the most famous – and goriest - an 18th century sculpture of St James fully armed on a white charger, is on display, but a large bank of flowers obscures the dead and dying moors beneath his horse's feet.
The Butafumeiro in action in Santiago Cathedral Alan Sykes, the Guardian Northerner's arts expert and much else besides, has marched 1000km (621 miles) in the last month to Santiago de Compostela to expiate unknown sins. He's sent us ten previous reports and you can read them all here. He also took the photographs. As he nurses his feet, why not send him a Christmas Week Tweet: @geltsdale
pilgrimage route to Santiago Alan will be back on his arts beat for the Northerner in the New Year.
Here is a map of his route - the Via de la Plata from Seville - courtesy of, an excellent website which has lots of information on all the pilgrim routes. Posted by Friday 28 December 2012 19.30 GMT

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