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Bunk, Brian D., 1968-; Pack, Sasha D.; Scott, Carl-Gustaf (ed.) / Nation and conflict in modern Spain: essays in honor of Stanley G. Payne
(2008)

Pack, Sasha D.
The Camino de Santiago and the paradox of national Catholicism in modern Spain,   pp. 65-80


Page 65

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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