June 7, 2010.
Through these medieval works of art you can find key places along the route of Camino de Santiago in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. This is a display on Europe's most important pilgrimage since the medieval times.
It all began in the ninth century when Saint James' tomb was discovered and pilgrims began arriving to honor him. Years later Bishop Diego Gelmírez proposed converting it into a place of pilgrimage as important as Rome or Jerusalem. And he achieved this. His first step was to start the construction of a great cathedral in 1075. Manuel Castiñeiras
Commissioner of exposition 'Compostela and Europe. History of Diego Gelmírez'
“He perfectly understood that there was a need to make a great effort for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, that Santiago had to offer a range of hours and hospitals for pilgrims and above all a great cathedral.”
Archbishop Diego Gelmírez had the city elevated to archdiocese, and he had the privilege of being named Papal Legate.
So he changed Santiago into a cultural place. To achieve this he traveled to Rome several times and took advantage of the trips to obtain relics, a common practice in the 11th and 12th century. From Portugal he brought relics from Saint Fructuoso, Saint Cucufato, Saint Silvester and Saint Susana.
Commissioner of exposition 'Compostela and Europe. History of Diego Gelmírez' “In the area of Braga, in Portugal, they had a series of relics and what Gelmírez did was take these relics, with the excuse that they were not being taken care of, to Santiago's cathedral, to attract even more pilgrims.”
At this exhibit you can study parts of monuments Gelmírez visited on his trips. The majority are originals and some, like this capital of a Conques abbey, or this other one from a Cluny abbey, have never left France before.
Perhaps the most spectacular works are these panels of Leo and Aries, from Toulouse's Basilica of Sain-Sernin, or these columns of the Northern part of Santiago's cathedral and of the San Lorenzo Church in Rome.
The exposition will be open next to St. Peter's Basilica until August 1st.