Bunk, Brian D., 1968-; Pack, Sasha D.; Scott, Carl-Gustaf (ed.) / Nation and conflict in modern Spain: essays in honor of Stanley G. Payne
Pack, Sasha D.
The Camino de Santiago and the paradox of national Catholicism in modern Spain, pp. 65-80
CHAPTER 5 The Camino de Santiago and the Paradox of National Catholicism in Modern Spain SASHA D. PACK ne of the most dramatic processes in recent Spanish cultural history has been the revival of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage to the supposed site of the '[ remains and apparition of St. James the Apostle at Santiago de Compostela. The ... ...shrine to St. James had been the destination of countless pilgrims from through- out Europe between the tenth and fifteenth centuries, such that at one point, Compostela attained a splendor and prestige briefly to rival Rome as a pilgrimage site. The practice declined in the Early Modern period; by the latter nineteenth century, the remote Galician town received pilgrims only in the dozens even in a jubilee year, and these almost entirely from nearby districts in Spain and northern Portugal. A century later, Compostela had re- gained much of its former prominence. It became the third largest Christian pilgrimage des- tination after Rome and Jerusalem, and in 2004, the Prince of Asturias Foundation-royal patron of Spain's most prestigious awards for arts, sciences, and humanism-recognized the Camino de Santiago with its annual prize for Harmony. The Foundation's interest in Compostela reflected the Spanish crown's long-standing aim of establishing itself as Spain's reigning conciliator. Properly conveyed, the pilgrimage formed a national symbol above the diverse ethnic, civic, and religious particularisms within Spain and a shared tradition among the rival nations of Europe. In its award statement, the Foundation praised the Camino de Santiago for its role as a "generator of extraordinary spiritual, social, cultural economic vitality," adding, "It has become, over the course of its 1,200 years of history, a symbol of brotherhood among peoples and a true axis for the first common European consciousness.' The statement's implication that the pilgrimage pos- sesses over a millennium of continuous history is dubious and its rhetorical distance from the crusading religious origins of the medieval pilgrimage is notable. As Catholicism lost most of the official status and prestige it once enjoyed in Spanish life, the pilgrimage appeared 65
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