Santiago de Compostela

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Compostela, Santiago de,

Spain: see Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de Compostela
or Santiago,
city (1990 pop. 91,419), capital of Galicia, in A Coruña prov., NW Spain, on the Sar River. The city is one of the chief shrines of Christendom. There in the early 9th cent. the supposed tomb of the apostle St.
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Santiago de Compostela

(säntyä`gō thā kōmpōstā`lä) or


city (1990 pop. 91,419), capital of GaliciaGalicia
, autonomous community (1990 pop. 2,914,514), NW Spain, on the Atlantic Ocean, S of the Bay of Biscay and N of Portugal. Comprised of the provinces of A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense, and Pontevedra, the region gained autonomy in 1981, when it elected its first parliament.
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, in A Coruña prov., NW Spain, on the Sar River. The city is one of the chief shrines of Christendom. There in the early 9th cent. the supposed tomb of the apostle St. JamesJames, Saint,
d. c.A.D. 43, in the Bible, one of the Twelve Apostles, called St. James the Greater. He was the son of Zebedee and the brother of St. John; these brothers were the Boanerges, or Sons of Thunder. St. James was killed by Herod Agrippa I. Veneration of St.
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 the Greater was reputedly discovered by a miracle, and Alfonso II of Asturias had a sanctuary built. The city grew around the shrine and became, after Jerusalem and Rome, the most famous Christian place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. It still thrives as a pilgrimage and tourist center. It is an archiepiscopal see and has a university (founded 1501). Its economy is based on tourism, agriculture, and the manufacture of linen and paper. Its most remarkable building is the cathedral, which replaced the earlier sanctuary after its destruction (10th cent.) by the Moors. Built (11th–13th cent.) in Romanesque style, the cathedral has had baroque and plateresque additions and restorations. Other historic buildings include the Hospital Real (1501–11), built by Ferdinand and Isabella to accommodate poor pilgrims, and the Colegio Fonseca (16th cent.), a part of the university.


See E. F. Stanton, Road of Stars to Santiago (1994).

Santiago de Compostela (Spains)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Santiago de Compostela, a town in the northwestern part of Spain, is reputedly the burial site of the Apostle James (or Santiago). According to legend, James went to this remote corner of the world and then he returned to Palestine, where in 42 CE he was taken prisoner and beheaded. King Herod refused to allow him to be buried, so some of his companions stole the body and put it on a ship. Various accounts suggest the ship was without a crew, or that it was manned by angels. After a swift voyage, the ship landed at the mouth of the river Ulla in Galicia (Spain). The group that accompanied the body then encountered another obstacle: the local rulers, King Duyo and Queen Lupa, were hostile to Christianity. However, the apostle was eventually buried secretly on an isolated mountainside.

Some eight centuries latter, a hermit named Pelayo had an angelic vision while traveling near the burial site. He heard music and saw a shining light in the woods near the town. He called the place he saw the shining “Campus Stellae,” which is Latin for “field of the star.” This was later shortened to Compostela. The occurrence was eventually reported to the bishop in the town of Iria Flavia, the closest community of any size. He began an investigation. As a result, the site of the apostle’s tomb was reportedly discovered, which was seen as confirmation that the site was in fact where James was buried.

The story was then reported to King Alphonse II (765–842), who responded by declaring Saint James the patron of his empire. He ordered the building of a chapel dedicated to Saint James, and two others were subsequently dedicated to Jesus Christ and to saints Peter and Paul. He also commanded that a monastery of Augustinian monks be located in the area. From this beginning, the community of Santiago de Compostela emerged.

Word of the discovery and the building of the church spread quickly through the Christian west. The news that one of the twelve Apostles was buried in Spain immediately turned it into a popular pilgrimage site. As pilgrims came to the site, traveling along what became known as the Camino de Santiago (the way of Saint James), a miniscule community emerged to become the city of Santiago de Compostela. There, the original chapel was replaced with a cathedral. The cathedral came to rival those in Rome and Jerusalem, and Pope Calixtus II (d. 1124) declared a Jubilee grace (i.e., a plenary indulgence) to those who visited the site during those years when July 25 (Saint James’s Day) occurs on a Sunday. His successor, Alexander III (1159–1181), designated Santiago a “holy town.”

Beginning in the fourteenth century, pilgrimages to Santiago slowed markedly, as did pilgrimages in general, because of the Black Plague ravaging Europe. Pilgrimages to Santiago had almost stopped completely when, in 1878, Pope Leo XIII issued a bull that reiterated the belief that the Apostle James’s remains were in fact at Santiago. Since that time the number of pilgrims has steadily grown, and today the city is once again a major site for Roman Catholics to visit. In addition, a renewed interest in Saint James emerged. This has led to the naming of many sites in his honor, especially in Spanish-speaking cities such as Santiago, Chile.


Davies, Horton, and Marie-Hélène Davies. Holy Days and Holidays: The Medieval Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. London: Associated University Presses, 1982.
Dunn, Maryjane, and Linda Kay Davidson. The Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela: A Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing, 1994.
Gitlitz, David M., and Linda Kay Anderson. The Pilgrim Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2000.
Jacobs, Michael. The Road to Santiago de Compostela. London: Viking, 1991.

Santiago de Compostela


a city in Galicia in northwestern Spain, in La Coruña Province. Population, 70,900 (1970).

The various enterprises of Santiago de Compostela produce leather, alcoholic beverages, flour, and paper; the city also has flax-processing. The manufacture of religious cult articles, some of silver, is also prominent. The city has a university, founded in 1525. Santiago de Compostela is an object of religious pilgrimage; according to legend, St. James the Apostle was buried here. The city is also a tourist center.

The streets of central Santiago de Compostela are lined with porticoes, which, as linking elements, impart a unity to the surrounding architectural monuments. The cathedral (c. 1080–1211) is the most eminent example of Spanish Romanesque architecture. The narthex holds the Portico de la Gloria; the exterior was rebuilt in the baroque style in the 17th and 18th centuries. Also of note is the royal hospital, with its plateresque portal (1501–11; architect A. de Egas); it, too, was rebuilt in the 17th century.

Santiago de Compostela has an archaeological museum and a museum of tapestries, with Spanish and Flemish Gobelins.


Chamoso Lamas, M. Santiago de Compostela. Barcelona [1961].

Santiago de Compostela

a city in NW Spain: place of pilgrimage since the 9th century and the most visited (after Jerusalem and Rome) in the Middle Ages; cathedral built over the tomb of the apostle St. James. Pop.: 92 339 (2003 est.)
References in periodicals archive ?
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy attended a funeral service for the dead at Santiago de Compostela cathedral on Monday night.
When the self-employed accountant from Whitchurch, Cardiff, finishes his four-day 70-mile backpack walk through the quiet countryside of Galicia, he will enjoy a pilgrim's mass in the stunningly ornate Santiago de Compostela cathedral.