“In this revered basilica, as it is reported, in his honour rests the venerated body of the Blessed James. It is enclosed in a marble casket placed in a most precious vaulted tomb. His body is immovable.”
Twelve hundred years ago on the westernmost margin of the European continent, an ancient mausoleum was found. One of the skeletons inside the stone tomb was identified as Christ’s apostle James. The burial place was Compostela and it was the goal of the supreme pilgrimage of medieval Europe.
“At this place the barbarous and civilised peoples of all the regions of the world arrive. Some go with bare feet, some without their own goods, some bound in irons for the sake of penitence. Some bring iron or lead in their hands for work on the Apostle’s basilica. This is a chosen race” As the only Apostolic tomb in medieval western Europe, the lustre of Compostela was very great. There, was buried one of Christ’s closest disciples. Saint James, together with his brother John and Peter were the three disciples who witnessed the Transfiguration. He was the first Apostle to suffer martyrdom. According to sacred text he had performed his Apostolic Mission in Spain before returning to Jerusalem where he was beheaded in A.D. 44 on the instruction of King Herod, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. His body was transported by boat on a miraculous wind to Galicia where it was buried by his disciples and lay forgotten for eight hundred years.