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The pilgrimage roads as defined in the twelfth century manuscript referred to as the Book of Saint James follow four distinct routes across France. As they reach Spain they join to form a single route, known today as the Camino Francès.pilgrim-routes-wpress1

The four French roads travel from the north, east and south. Each passed through the most important saintly shrines of their regions.

The Road of Tours took its name from the shrine of Saint Martin of that city. This route afforded its travellers the opportunity to visit the great shrines of Saint Denis near Paris,  Saint Hilaire at Poitiers, Saint Eutropius at Saintes and Saint Seurin at Bordeaux.

Those who travelled the Road of Limoges began their journey at the abbey of Vézelay in Burgundy which claimed possession of the relics of Mary Magdalene. In the Limousin they could visit the shrine of Saint Leonard of Noblat and Saint Martial at Limoges and in the Périgord that of  Saint Fronto.

chanaleillesThe Road of Le Puy began at the cathedral town of Le Puy-en-Velay, home to  a prehistoric healing  dolmen. At Conques was the reliquary statue of Sainte Foy renowned for her miracle working powers. Further on was the  abbey of Moissac on the banks of the Tarn river, the great centre of monastic power in southern France

The Toulouse Road began at the ancient Roman necropolis of Arles with its numerous saints’ tombs. On the other side of the great delta of the Rhone was the shrine of Saint Gilles. Travelling up into the mountains of the Languedoc, pilgrims visited the tomb of Saint Guilhem, the knight turned monk and hero of numerous epic legends. The road then headed west to Toulouse and the shrine of Saint Saturninus.

The Pilgrim’s Guide which forms the fourth section of the Book of Saint James, recommends over twenty saints relics to venerate, although there were many more. rioja1On the Spanish road there are approximately 600 kilometres from the Pyrenees to Santiago itself with the route passing through Burgos and across the flat parched meseta plateau  to Leòn and the shrine of Saint Isidore. From there the road rises to cross the mountains of Galicia before reaching Compostela, a short distance from Finistera on the Atlantic coast.


13 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] from Luke’s Gospel is frequently repeated in the stone carved images of the churches on the pilgrimage roads and its theme that wealth and salvation are incompatible clearly troubled the medieval […]

  2. […] Aulnay-de-Saintonge, Book of Revelation, Elders of the Apocalypse, Moissac Along the pilgrimage roads one of the sculptural themes which is repeated regularly is that of crowned figures bearing musical […]

  3. […] one of the greatest saints of the middle ages and it was the foutainhead of one of the four great pilgrimage roads to Santiago de […]

  4. […] Limoges, Pilgrimage, Relics, Romanesque, Saint Martial One of the abiding mysteries of the Pilgrim’s Guide is the absence of any mention of Saint Martial of […]

  5. […] with a wealth of carved figures. “His tomb does not resemble the tomb of any other saint”, the Guide tells us, “indeed, it was built with the greatest care in a round form as the sepulcher of the […]

  6. […] pass, which stands at 1640 metres, was the great monastic hospital of Santa Cristina of which the Guide speaks with so much effusion. This was protected by the fortress at Candanchu. Along the right bank […]

  7. […] with a wealth of carved figures. “His tomb does not resemble the tomb of any other saint”, the Guide tells us, “indeed, it was built with the greatest care in a round form as the sepulchre of the […]

  8. […] that its significance went beyond a mere defensive emplacement but also as an extension of the Compostelan pilgrimage. Padron and Fisterra were places associated with the extension of the journey to the sea itself and […]

  9. […] to several shrines such as Mont Saint Michel it became uniquely associated with the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The Liber Sancti Iacobi declares that “It is not without reason that the pilgrims returning from […]

  10. […] a pilgrimage which had been long and arduous, they needed to provide a fitting […]

  11. […] pilgrims, the fountain symbolised, after the completion of their journey, the transformation of the Four French Roads  into the Four Rivers of […]

  12. […] disciple – a strange and anomalous concept but one which says much about the meaning of the Compostelan pilgrimage in the medieval […]

  13. […] in 1059. The new priory was established with the primary intention of being a major halt on the Compostelan pilgrimage. This objective was achieved with evident rapidity when the site, which had never fully recovered […]

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