James the Pilgrim

St. James (detail), circa 16th–18th century. Marble, Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Galicia, Spain.

 The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the center of the UNESCO World Heritage Site preserving the old town of Galicia, Spain. Thought to be the burial place of St. James, the cathedral has served as a Christian pilgrimage destination since the early Middle Ages. Construction of the cathedral began in 1075 C.E. with Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque additions in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. According to Christian tradition, the apostle James brought Christianity to the Iberian Peninsula. Legend says that after he was martyred in 44 C.E. his remains were returned to Galicia, where he was enshrined. Here, from a portal decorating one of the more recent additions to the church, we see a noble depiction of St. James in period Spanish attire, his right hand raised in oration and left hand on a book, presumably the Bible.

James the Pilgrim

The southwestern part of Europe that includes Spain and Portugal.

The historical period generally spanning from the fifth century to the fifteenth century C.E. in Europe and characterized by decreases in populations and the degeneration of urban life.

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