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Legends and history

James was the elder brother of John, sons of Zebedeo, a fisherman, and from an early age followed his father’s footsteps as a fisherman. He was one of the three closest disciples of Jesus: Peter, James and John. He was sent to preach around Spain, he may have started in Tartesos and probably via the Emerita Augusta Way reached Galicia.

During 7 years he preached that region reaching Cesaraugusta (Zaragoza), there Mary miraculously appeared before him atop a rock similar to a pillar (becoming Pilar the name of the Zaragoza patroness). Afterwards in Jerusalem he was beheaded under the reign of Herod Agrippa around AD42-44. Tradition has it that two of his disciples, Atanasio and Teodoro, manage to rescue his head and body and then set course on a boat towards Galicia. They docked in Iria Flavia and tie the boat to a stone that you can still visit in St James’ Church in Padron.

The story continues with the unique journey of Santiago´s (James´) body, which is transported by cart to Libredón forest, where the oxen refuse to continue the journey.

This stop is taken as a divine sign to stop and bury him there.

According to legend, centuries later, a hermit called Paio ( Pelayo) who lived in Solovio in the Libredón forest, started seeing mysterious lights and flashes. He ran to tell the news to the Bishop Teodomiro of Iria Flavia. When the bishop travelled to the area and saw the lights, he discovered the place where James and his two disciples, Teodomiro and Anastasio, were buried.

Alfonso II “El Casto” is considered as the first pilgrim in history to Santiago.


Teodomiro announces the discovery to the King Alfonso II ” the Chaste “. Given this finding, the king does not hesitate to go to the place of the finding, without realizing he would be the creator of the ” Primitive Way ” and appearing as the first pilgrim in history.

Once arrived to Compostela and seeing the importance of the good news, he orders to build the first church and a monastery for the monks to guard the remains of St. James.

Other famous people followed his example and travelled to Santiago: Ramon Berenger IV , St Francis of  Assisi, the Catholic Monarchs, Carlos I, Felipe II and others who paid to make the pilgrimage in their place ( for the forgiveness of sins) as this was permitted for many years.

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…those lights revealed where Saint James had been buried by Teodomiro and Anastasio.

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