A Way of legends

Throughout twelve centuries and on a route consisting of hundreds of kilometers, the Camino de Santiago has witnessed the encounter of thousands of pilgrims from different parts of Europe who set out on their journey to worship the remains of the Apostle. They gathered in hostels, monasteries and inns to rest and take a break in their journey, being these places meeting points where various stories worthy of being told and remembered converged. Today you can make this journey with us Pambre tours.

The Jacobean tradition is impregnated with a multitude of stories, curiosities and legends already linked to the history of the Camino itself; small stained glass windows of cultural diversity and unique experiences of each pilgrim. They almost always refer to miracles performed by the Apostle Santiago, the Virgin and other saints venerated at the time.

As they are spread orally, most of them have several versions. Some have been collected in codices such as the Codex Calixtinus by Aymeric Picaud and other documents. The most famous are still told by pilgrims in the 21st century.

* Miracle of Fuente Reniega: the origin of the scallop as a symbol that identifies the pilgrim takes place here.

A pilgrim was exhausted on the Alto del Perdón, a few kilometers from Pamplona. The Devil took advantage of his condition to tempt him by showing him a hidden source if he denied God, the Virgin or the Apostle Santiago. The pilgrim refused three times and began to pray. Then the Apostle Santiago appears and rewards his faith by accompanying the dying man to his hidden fountain where he gives him a drink with his scallop.

* Miracle of Santo Domingo de la Calzada: this took place in the 14th century in the town of La Rioja. Hugonell, a young German boy of eighteen years of age, goes on a pilgrimage to Compostela accompanied by his parents. In the hostel where they stay a young girl falls in love with him but the boy rejects her. Feeling scorned, she plots revenge on him by hiding a silver cup in his bag and then accusing him of theft.

The bailiffs search the young man’s bag when he and his family are about to leave. Finding him guilty, they condemn him to be hanged. His parents could do nothing but pray for him to the Apostle St. James. When they approached the body of their son, they were astonished to see that he was alive and spoke to them to express their gratitude to the Apostle who had brought him back to life.

When the news is communicated to the corregidor, he is eating some fowls and is incredulous when he says: “Your son is as alive as this rooster and this hen that I was about to eat before you bothered me”. At that moment the birds came to life and began to cluck happily in the dish. This is the origin of the popular saying: “In Santo Domingo de la Calzada, where the hen sang after roasting”.

* The Mystery of Obanos: it is located in Navarre. Felicia of Aquitaine after her pilgrimage to Compostela renounces her noble life and stays in Amocaín to serve the poor. Her brother William goes in search of her and tries to make her desist from her decision. Furious at her refusal, he stabs her to death.

Filled with remorse, he travels to Rome to confess his crime, where he is imposed as a penance to make a pilgrimage to Santiago. On his return, he also renounced his former life, staying in Obanos next to the hermitage of the Virgin on Mount Arnótegui. From then on, this hermitage would bear the name of San Guillermo.

* Legend of the bird and the Virgin: it happens in Puente la Reina, a place where the two roads meet. One of the churches of the town, that of San Pedro, keeps in its interior a beautiful image of the Virgin of Puy. According to legend, on special days or festivities, a little bird used to collect water from the river in its beak and wings to wash the Virgin’s face.

El Camino de Santiago desde Asturias: "El Txori de Puente la Reina"

* Miracle of O Cebreiro: reaching this mountain pass located at an altitude of 1,109 meters is a great effort for pilgrims. At its summit there was a monastery. Every day a resident of the village of Barxamaior went to hear mass despite the inclement weather. One stormy afternoon the peasant arrived at the monastery soaked and freezing cold. While consecrating the bread and wine, the monk scoffed at his faith, thinking that it was not worth so much sacrifice. At once, the friar contemplated how the Host became flesh and the Chalice overflowed with blood until it stained the altar.
The coat of arms of the flag of Galicia has a chalice in memory of this miracle (this is also a legend).

In our article today we wanted to summarize some of the most popular Jacobean legends that were transmitted since the Middle Ages, but there are many other curiosities related to the Camino:

An important part of the “Song of Roland” takes place in places along the Camino de Santiago.

Some scholars also believe that the game of the goose was designed by guilds of builders representing the route. The goose was a magical animal at the time. The bridges symbolized the transition, the crossing of stages and corresponded to some of the real bridges of the Jacobean route. The box of death was the punishment for all those who did not know how to take advantage of the Camino experience for their personal growth.

The famous botafumeiro is not free of legends either. It is said that it was installed in the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries to mask the bad smell that permeated the Cathedral at that time due to the poor hygiene of the pilgrims. Some fables claim that it had healing properties and that blind and stuttering people were healed thanks to its virtues.

Stories on the Camino that merge with our own history as we become pilgrims. Whether or not we believe in their veracity, the stories and legends that take place on our journey to Compostela are another reason that encourages us to undertake our tours, a pilgrimage that is not only measured in kilometers but also in centuries and past lives.

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