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portico-de-la-gpsd8At the Romanesque cathedral of Compostela, a sculpted image of Saint James is presented on the trumeau which supports the central narthex tympanum of the main entrance – the Portico de la Gloria. The tympanum represents the Apocalypse – Christ in Majesty surrounded by the Twenty-Four Elders. The image is direct and clear – Saint James is the direct conduit to the Christ of Final Judgment.

At the base of the pillar the sign of the pilgrims of the past has been worn into the stone, visible by the marks of the hands they have pressed against the cold stone down the ages.portico-de-la-gpsd18

The Book of Saint James tells us: “Whosoever is truly penitent, and is from faraway shores, and has sought to request with all his heart forgiveness from the Lord and help from Saint James in Galicia, without doubt will have the slate of his sins wiped clean in eternity”.

Saint James was considered the brother of Saint John the Evangelist and significantly, John the author of the Book of Revelation.

4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] pilgrimage basilicas built at the end of the eleventh century, one of which was the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. They were all built to the same plan with the purpose of accommodating the vast crowd of pilgrims […]

  2. […] Portico de la Gloria at Santiago de Compostela makes the connection between Saint James and the Christ of Apocalypse […]

  3. […] In the last quarter of the twelfth century, however, the west entrance to the cathedral was completed with a different programme, the Portico de la Gloria. […]

  4. […] narrative of the New Testament was key to the importance attributed to Saint James in the medieval world. That he was witness to the appearance of Christ’s divinity was of […]

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