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The Tradition


Santiago de Compostela - The Tradition
The name Santiago de Compostela literally means " St. James of the field of stars".
Legend has it that the Apostle’s body was moved right after his death and buried in the field where the city was successively found. According to the legend, a star appeared in the field to show the local people the presence of the relic.
The Way of St. James reached its maximum success during the Middle Ages. Those who traveled to Spain, either for devotion or to ask penance (which was granted to pilgrims), enjoyed some specific rights. Not only they were given a social recognition, but the status of pilgrim also guaranteed some civil rights.
Those who left had to make a will testament, with the guarantee that their goods would be defended by the civil authorities for the entire duration of their journey, or until a given time, normally two years. Pilgrims also enjoyed the right to receive hospitality in the hostels that grew up along the French Way, or in the houses of common people.
Pilgrims headed to Santiago used to wear a scallop shell around their necks, symbolizing the sand in proximity of which the Saint’s body was found. Their typical dress included a walking staff (a wooden stick with a metal hook on it), a long dress in coarse tissue and a bag. These elements helped qualifying the pilgrim in front of his people, and the strangers met along the way were able to identify in this way the status of pilgrim.