The Camino de Santiago is considered a bucket list destination for many people, whether
you consider yourself a spiritual person or not. But how did the Camino de Santiago come
to be so popular among modern travelers and what do we know about the history of the
HISTORY AND ORIGIN.
According to the pilgrimage’s official history, the body of Saint James
the Apostle is buried in Santiago’s cathedral. Saint James is the
namesake of the Camino de Santiago, which translates to English as
the Way of Saint James. Santiago or Sant Iago means Saint James.
According to the Bible, St James was one of the three closest Jesus
disciples and witness of His last miracle. After Christ’s death, James,
passionate and impetuous, took part in the group of apostles who will
dedicate their lives to preaching the Evangelion to the world. This dedication will lead him
to the Iberian Peninsula.
We know little about his life in Iberia although the evangelical tradition says he made some
disciples. Specifically, the one related to the Seven Apostolic Men places them with James in
Zaragoza. Around the year 40, Virgin Mary appeared upon a pillar to James, Nuestra
Señora del Pilar, (and that pillar is conserved and venerated within the present Basilica of
Our Lady of the Pillar, in Zaragoza, Spain) making him return to Judea with his disciples in
order to make her company in her last days of life. During his stay there in the year 44, he
was tortured and beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I. James was the first Apostle to die for
the Christian faith.
The king prohibited the burial of James’ corpse in Jerusalem so his disciples decided to put
him into a stone sarcophagus and run away in a stone boat. They traveled without rudder
nor sail through the Mediterranean Sea until they arrived on the north coast of Gallaecia.
Afterward, they trace the Ulla river. This journey is what in the Jacobean tradition is known
as the Translatio.
Their final destiny would be Iria Flavia, actual Padrón, which was ruled by Queen Lupa, a
pagan monarch. She submitted the disciples to tough tests before she allowed them to
bury St James’ corpse. The most remarkable one was the following. The Queen offered
them two bulls to help them bury the sarcophagus but they were savage. Throughout
preaches, the disciples get to calm them out, making them tame and able to help them out.
Legend says that the bulls were the ones who decided the place of the burial of St James,
preserved nowadays in Franco de Santiago Street in Santiago de Compostela.
Eight centuries were needed until the remains were found again by a hermit called Pelayo,
in 823. He witnessed flashes of light and stars in the sky that seemed to be indicating the
place of the burial days before he decided to go and tell Teodomiro, bishop of Iria Flavia.
Both approached the place and the latter noticed that what was buried was the authentical
sarcophagus of St James. Due to the importance of the discovery, Teodomiro departed to
Oviedo in order to tell the news to King Alfonso II.
Therefore the monarch became the first pilgrim to travel the way from Oviedo to the grave
of the Apostle, giving the name to this first way, the Camino Primitivo (Primitive Way).
It was the same monarch who had a church built to house the remains of the Apostle, now
being the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
FROM OVIEDO TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA.
The Primitive Way is a wonderful option to discover the true roots of the pilgrimage,
starting from Oviedo and crossing the Asturian Principality to the west to access Galicia
through the province of Lugo until connecting with the route of the French Way in the
municipality of Melide, at just 55km Santiago de Compostela.
The route crosses sparsely populated mountainous areas, with landscapes of imposing
natural beauty and hardly any asphalt sections, which contributes to its scenic splendor. In
addition, the historical and heritage resources are abundant, especially in the two
monumental cities that we pass through on our route, Oviedo, and Lugo, in addition to
Compostela itself, which awaits us upon our arrival.
The length of the Primitive Way is 321 km, of which 170 run through Galician lands after
entering the province of Lugo through A Fonsagrada. It is generally divided into 13 or 14
stages with an average duration of between 20 and 30 km.
Stage 1 Oviedo – Grado
Stage 2 Grado – Salas
Stage 3 Salas – Tineo
Stage 4 Tineo – Pola de Allande
Stage 5 Pola de Allande – La Mesa
Stage 6 La Mesa – Grandas de Salime
Stage 7 Grandas de Salime – A Fonsagrada
Stage 8 A Fonsagrada – O Cádavo
Stage 9 O Cádavo – Lugo
Stage 10 Lugo – Ferreira
Stage 11 Ferreira – Melide
Stage 12 Melide – Arzúa
Stage 13 Arzúa – Pedrouzo
Stage 14 Pedrouzo – Santiago de