Santiago de Compostela... Another Look
     by Jean

Published in The Compass,March 1, 2011, vol. 6, issue 2


            First you will be arriving in Lacolla Airport in Santiago de Compostela. The Apostle Saint James the Greater brought the gospel to the peoples of Spain in the first century of Christianity and since that time it has been a popular place of pilgrimage for all of Europe. For hundreds of years people literally walk from all parts of Europe to venerate the Apostle at Santiago de Compostela every year on his feast day, July 25th.  It is a journey of sacrifice and prayer, usually of intercession or thanksgiving for petitions answered, this is the real spirit of a pilgrimage.

            Throughout Europe the way to this holy place of pilgrimage has been marked for centuries by small signs that direct you on The way of Saint James. Those signs usually are marked by a shell with the words “Saint James Way” or “Camino de Santiago“. This shell symbolizes a deep longing in the heart for God that was characteristic of the Saint.

            The beautiful cathedral is located in the heart of the city and is dedicated to Saint James. It was built in 1075 in the Baroque style.  This Cathedral houses the largest thurible in the world, weighing 176 pounds and burning 80 pounds of charcoal and incense.  The incenser is set in motion by eight red-robed  tiraboleiros and it reaches speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Watch out! Behind the main altar is a life-sized bust reliquary in the shape of a man’s torso. Pilgrims can climb the steps up to it and venerate the bones of Saint James resting within. Theodomir bishop of Iria Flavia, a province west of Galicia, was supposedly led by a star to discover the remains of St. James. Compostela is hence translated “field of stars”.

            Before you come to this great place of Christian pilgrimage prepare your heart with prayer and sacrifice and petition this great saint to fill you with a deep longing for the good Lord.

            It is certainly a good thing that we are not flying directly into Madrid, because Madrid's airport is the largest and busiest in Spain. So after our Days in the Diocese at Santiago, we will be heading for the beautiful city of Madrid.  Madrid gets its name from the Arabic “magerit” which means ‘place of many streams.’  In case you did not know, Spain was invaded by the Moors, Muslim Arabs, in the 7th century. This conquest ended in the 15th century and then Christianity flourished. As we travel in Spain, we will be seeing signs of this Moorish influence in the country, both in architecture and culture, for example, the Spanish music

            Madrid is the largest city in Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million, the metropolitan area is roughly 6.5 million. There are great places to visit, like the famous beautiful monastery built by the pious King, Phillip II, El Escorial.  Other places to visit include the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Teatro Real (Royal Theater) which houses the restored 1850 Opera House.  The beautiful park called the Buen Retiro founded in 1631; the 19th-century Libreria National (National Library), a building founded in 1712 which holds some of Spain's most important and historical archives; and the world famous Prado Museum holding a large array of artistic treasures

            There is a famous avenue in Madrid called “Paseo de la Castellana”, “Promenade of the Castilian”. It is one of the longest and widest avenues in Madrid going from north to south of the city. In certain parts of the promenade the median dividing the avenue is very wide with gardens and benches. Especially on Sundays, the locals like to walk or just sit and read a book.

            All these places that we will pass through will not compare with the time that we will have with our dear Holy Father.  Think of this:  millions of young coming together in one place to pray and profess our faith with our Shepherd!  Nothing compares with the experience of proclaiming the creed of our faith in one voice with millions of young souls and the Head of the Body of Christ, our Pope!  Any sacrifice will have been worth this encounter with Christ and His Vicar. Before our trip, let us really be aware of the great graces that God has in store for us in this Pilgrimage. Let us open our hearts so that we can receive these graces to the full extent that God wants to pour them out upon us! 

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            If you are interested in learning about some saint, event, cultural phenomenon, person or place in Spain, with at Catholic light shone upon it, please let the Trailblazers team know! (Use the e-mail addresses below, or the "Contact us" page.) 

           Trailblazers is always looking for authors. Would you like to volunteer for an article about Catholic Spain? We would love to hear from you! Please contact us (see previous paragraph).

Contact us:
Editor of The Compass -
Trailblazers Secretary-
Father Paul Ward: Trailblazers Director -
Mailing Address: 700 Maple Vista St., Imlay City, MI 48444