Codex Guide : chapter IX    




  Chapter IX. The City and Basilica of St. James


  Compostella lies between two rivers, the Sar and the Sarela. The Sar is to the east between Monte del Gozo, the Sarela, to the west. There are seven entrances and gates to the city. The first is called the French Gate, the second, the Puerta de la Pena, the third, the Puerta de Subfratribus, the fourth, the Gate of the Holy Pilgrim, the fifth, the Puerta Fajera, which leads to Padron, the sixth, the Gate of Susannis, the seventh, the Puerta de Mazarelos, through which valuable wine comes into the city.


  1. The churches of the city

  There are ten churches in this city, of which the first, situated in the centre, and radiating glory, is of the glorious apostle James, son of Zebedee. The second is of Blessed Peter the Apostle, in an abbey of monks near the French road. The third, St Michael’s, is called ‘the cistern’. The fourth is of St Martin the bishop, called ‘de Piniario’, also an abbey. The fifth is Holy Trinity, the burial place for pilgrims. The sixth is St Susanne the Virgin, near the Padron road; the seventh is St Felix the Martyr; the eighth is St Benedict’s; the ninth is of St Pelagius the Martyr, behind the basilica of St James. The tenth is St Mary the Virgin, behind the church of St James and having an entrance into that basilica, between the altars of St Nicolai and of the Holy Cross.


  2. The basilica

  The Basilica of Santiago is the length of fifty-three men, from the west doorway to the altar of St Salvador.

  It is thirty-nine men wide, from the French to the south doorway; in the inside, it is fourteen times a man’s height.

  One doesn't grasp from the outside how long and high it is. The church has nine aisles on the lower level, and six on the upper, and one major principal point, which has the altar of St Salvador: the laurel crown, the body, two limbs, and eight other small heads, each one of which has an altar. Of the nine aisles, six and moderate and three are large. The principal aisle runs from the east entrance to the four pillars which govern the whole church, with one aisle to the right, and another to the left.

  The other two aisles are in the limbs, the first from the French door to the four pillars, the second from these pillars to the south doorway, each with two small lateral aisles.

  The three principal aisles extend to the most heavenly part of the church, the six small aisles only as far as the ‘medias cindrias' [the meaning of the Latin ‘medias cindrias’ is uncertain].

  Each of the large aisles is the height of eleven and a half men, taking the vertical height of a man as eight palms [1.7 metres].

  The main aisle has twenty-nine pillars, fourteen on the right, the same to the left, and one between the doors on the north.

  In the aisles of the cross of this church, from the French door to the south, there are twenty-six pillars, twelve on the right, the same to the left, and two in the entrance, separating the doorways. In the crown are eight remarkable columns around the altar of St James.

  The six small aisles above in the galleries of the church are equal in length and breath to the aisles beneath them. They are supported on one side by walls, and on the other, pillars, which rise to the top from the aisles below, and double pillars which stonemasons call ‘mediae cindrae’ [as for note above, ‘cindrae’ is of uncertain meaning].

  There are as many pillars in the lower part of the church as the upper, and as many arches, but in the gallery, between single pillars, there are columns, called ‘columnae cindriae’ by masons.

  The church has no cracks or defects. It is an extraordinary work, with great space, bright, of fitting size, proportioned in its width, length and height, of extraordinary craft, with two levels like a royal palace.

  He who goes up to the upper galleries, if sad going up, will see the perfect beauty and will rejoice and be happy.


  3. The windows

  The basilica has sixty-three glass windows. There are three around each of the altars in the crown, five around the top of the church around the altar of St James, which shine down on the altar; and forty-three in the galleries.


  4. The doorways

  The church has three main doorways, and seven smaller ones. One of the main doors is to the west, the others to the north and south. Each of the doorways has two entrances, with double doors in each entrance.

  The first of the seven smaller doors is called after St Mary, the second is the Sacred Way, the third is St Pelagius, the fourth is names after the Chapter, the fifth is the Stoneyard, the sixth also, the seventh is the Grammar School which allows entry to the residence of the Archbishop.


  (5. St James Fountain)

  When we French people want to enter the basilica of the apostle, we go northside. Before the entrance, beside the road, is the hospice of the poor pilgrims of St James, and it is here, beyond the road, there is a park, to which nine steps descend. At the bottom of the steps is an miraculous fountain, like nothing in the world. For that fountain is at the foot of three stone steps, upon which is a beautiful stone shell, like a dish or cup, round and enclosed, so large, I think, that 15 men could bathe in it.

  In the middle is a bronze column, broad at the base, aptly proportioned in length, with lions coming from four points, through whose mouths flows water for the curing of pilgrims of citizens of Santiago.

The water coming out of the lions’ mouths falls into the shell below, and from there exits the basin through a hole below the ground.

  It cannot be seen where the water comes from, nor where it goes. The water is sweet, nourishing, healthy, clear, fine, warm in winter, temperate in summer. Around the column, under the feet of the lions, are these letters:

  I, Bernard, treasurer of Santiago,

led this water here and placed this monument,

to cure my soul and the souls of my parents.

11 April 1122.


  6. The forecourt (Paradise) of the city

  Beyond the fountain is the forecourt, divinely inspired, with a pavement of stone,where they sell the shells to pilgrims that are the sign of St James, and wineskins, deerskin satchels, purses, laces, belts, and all kinds of medicinal herbs and other spices, and much more.

  The French street has money changers, hotel keepers, and other merchants. The forecourt is a stone’s throw long and wide.


  7. The North (‘French’) Doorway

  Beyond the forecourt, to the north of the basilica of St James, is the French door, in which there are two entrances, both carved with beautiful works. Each of the outsides of the entrances has six columns, some marble, some stone, three on the right, three on the left, so six on each side making twelve columns. Above the column, between the two outside doors, God is placed in seated majesty, giving a blessing with his right hand, and holding a book in his left.

  Around the throne are the four evangelists, as if holding it up, and to the right is carved paradise, in which another image of God is rebuking Adam and Eve for their sin. Similarly to the left in another depiction he is driving them from paradise.

  All around are many holy images, beasts, men, Angels, women, flowers and other creatures, whose substance and quality we cannot describe because of their number. However in the recess above the door, which is to the left when we enter the basilica, there is the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the angel Gabriel speaking to her.

  To the left above the entrance, entering the side, are the months of the year and many other fine works.

  Two fierce lions are on the outside wall, one to the right and the other to the left, as if always watching the


  Above the thresholds are four apostles, each holding books in their hands, and giving blessings with raised  right hands to those entering the basilica.

  Peter is on the left entrance to the right, Paul on the right, and on the right-hand entrance the apostle John is to the right, and St James on the left.

  Above the heads of the apostles, springing forth from the lintels, are remarkable carved bulls’ heads.


  8. The South Doorway (Puerta de la Platerias)

  There are two entrances in south doorway of the apostolic basilica, as we have said, and four doors.

  On the right hand entrance outside, in the first row above the door, is carved the Betrayal of Christ with miraculous skill: there the Lord is tied by the hands of the Jews to the pillar; there he is beaten with a whip; there Pilate sits on his throne, as if judging him.

  Above in another line is carved St. Mary, Mother of the Lord, with her son in Bethlehem, and three kings who have come to visit the boy and his mother offering them three gifts, and the Star, and the Angel warning them not to return to Herod.

  On the lintels of this entrance are two apostles as if guarding the doors, one on the right, the other on the left, and likewise two apostles on the lintels on the other entrance, to the left.

  And in the first line of this entrance, above the doors carved with the Temptation of the Christ, there are three angels before the Lord, like skeletons, placing him on the pinnacle of the Temple, some offering him stones to persuade him to turn them to bread, others showing him the kingdoms of the world, saying they will give them to him if he falls adoring them. But other shining white angels, clearly good, some behind him and others over him, attend to him with incense.

  The same doorway has four lions, one on the right in one entrance, and another on the other side; between the two is an entrance, and above the pillar, there are two more fierce lions, rear end to rear end. This doorway has eleven columns, five to the right of the right-hand entrance, the same to the left of the left hand entrance, and the eleventh between the two entrances.


  Some are marble, some stone, carved with extraordinary images: flowers, men, birds, animals. The columns are of white marble.

  Nor must we forget to relate the woman standing beside the Temptation of Christ, holding in her hands the foetid head of her lover, cut off by her own husband, which, forced by her man, she kisses twice a day

  What great and admirable justice to an adulterous woman, to be told to all!

  On the top line, above the four doors towards the gallery of the basilica, a series miraculously gleams in white marble stones.

  God stands there straight, St Peter to his left holding keys in his hands, and St James on his right between two cypress trees, and St John his brother beside him, and the other apostles to the right and left.

  On the wall above and below, left and right, are evidently the best carvings, with flowers, saints, beasts, birds, fish, and other works, which we cannot describe fully.

  But there are four angels over the doors, each holding a horn, proclaiming the day of judgement.


  9. The West Doorway

  The western doorway, with two entrances, transcends the others in beauty, size and workmanship; it is bigger and finer than the others, and more wonderfully worked, with many steps outside, and different marble columns, and decorated with different things and manners, carved with images, men, women, animals, birds, saints, angels, flowers and different such works. There are so many works, they cannot be described by our account.

  Above is the Transfiguration of the Lord, just as it was in Mount Tabor, carved wonderfully. For it is the Lord there in a white cloud, face shining like the sun, clothes gleaming like snow; and his Father above speaking to him, and Moses and Elijah who appeared with him, speaking to him of the death which would be fulfilled in Jerusalem.

  There are St James and Peter and John, to whom God revealed his transfiguration before all others.


  10. The towers of the Basilica

  There are to be nine towers in the church: two above the southern door, and two above the western door, and two above each staircase, and another bigger one over the cross in the middle of the church. With these and other most beautiful works the basilica of St James shines with the brightest glory.

  It is made wholly from the strongest living stone, brown and hard, like marble, decorated inside with different images, and outside covered excellently with tiles and lead. Of all these things described, some are complete, others are yet to be finished.


  11. The altars of the basilica

  The altars of this basilica take the following order: first, beside the French Doorway on the left-hand side, is the altar of St Nicholas; next is the altar of the Holy Cross; next, in the crown, is the altar of St Faith the Virgin; next is the altar of St John the Apostle and Evangelist, brother of St James; next in the main head is the altar of the Holy Saviour; next is the altar of St Peter the Apostle; next is the altar of St Peter the Apostle; next is the altar of St Andrew; next is the altar of St Martin the Bishop; next is the altar of t John the Baptist.

   Between the altar of St James and the altar of the Holy Saviour is the Altar of St Mary Magdaline, where the early morning Masses for pilgrims are sung. Above, the the gallery of the church, there are three altars: the chief of which is the altar of St Michael the Archangel, the one on the right hand part is the alter of St Benedict, and the one on the left if the altar of St Paul the Apostle and St Nicholas the Bishop, where the Archbishop’s chapel tends to be.


  12. The Body and the Altar of St James

  In this venerable basilica the revered body of Santiago lies under the main altar, built in his honour, in a marble coffin in a fine arched tomb, built with appropriate craft and size.

  The body is held to be immovable, according to St Theodormir, bishop of this city, who discovered it and was not able to move it. May rivals across the mountains blush, therefore, who saw they have anything of him or his relics.

  The whole body of the Apostle is here, divinely illuminated by heavenly precious stones, permanently honoured by divine and fragrant smells, graced with gleaming celestial candles, honoured with angelic and meticulous deference.

  Over this tomb is a small altar, which it is said his disciples made, and for the love of the Apostle and his disciples, nobody afterwards wanted to destroy.

  Above it is a large and wonderful altar, fifteen palms high, twelve long and seven wide. I have measured it so with my own hands. The small altar is enclosed by the larger on three sides, right, left and behind, but is open at the front, so that one can see through the opening the old altar, when the silver screen is taken away. But if anyone wishes to send an alter cloth or linen for the alter of the apostle, out of love for Santiago, it should be nine palms in width and twenty-one in length.

  If anyone, for love of God and the Apostle, wishes to send a cover for the outside of the altar, make sure it is made seven palms wide, and thirteen long.



  (13. Front of the silvered altar

  Siding in front of the altar, to honor, made ​​of gold and silver. Miilieu is carved to the throne of our Lord, twenty-four elders arranged with him like saw the Blessed John, brother of St. Jacques, in his Apocalypse, that is to say, twelve right and far left, in a circle, holding in their hands and the zither golden vials full of incense. The middle seat Our Lord, as on a throne of majesty, holding in his left hand the book of life, and giving the blessing with the right hand. Around the throne, were four evangelists, seeming to support the throne. The Twelve Apostles are ranged to his right and to his left, three on the first row on the right and three on top, and left three in the first row, bottom and three on top. Finally, there are beautiful flowers all around, and beautiful columns between the apostles.

  This siding is a harmonious workplace, and carries up to this entry:


  This siding Diego II, Bishop of Saint-James

did the fifth year of his episcopate.

Treasure of Saint-James

it cost four to twenty five marks of silver.


  And down there the other inscription:

Alfonse was king, his son duke Raymond

the aforesaid bishop, when this work was completed.)


  (14. Canopy of the altar of the apostle

  The canopy that covers this venerable altar is beautifully worked inside and outside, paintings, drawings and figures varied. It rests on four columns in a square, and it's height and width harmonious. Inside, the first register, there are key virtues of women as eight in number, celebrated by St. Paul, in each corner there are two. And above the head of each are angels standing in support of their hands the throne at the top of the canopy. Midst of the throne is the Lamb of God holding the cross with his foot, and there are many angels of virtue.

  Outside, the first register, there are four angels who announce the resurrection on Judgment Day, sounding of the trumpet, he has two yen on the front and two behind on the other side. At the same level are four prophets Abraham and Moses on the left side, and Isaac and Jacob on the right, each holding in his hand the phylactery of their respective prophecies. The upper register, the twelve apostles are sitting around.

  On the first side, front, Blessed James is located in the middle of the left hand holding a book and giving his blessing to the right, to the right is another apostle, and another left on the same row. Similarly, on the right side of the canopy, there are three other apostles, and left three others, and behind, three in the same way  On the roof, four angels are seated, as keeping the altar. In addition to the four corners of the same canopy at the base of the roof, the four Evangelists are carved their own likeness. The canopy is painted inside, while outside it is carved and painted. At the top, outside stands a triple arch, on which is carved the divine Trinity  In the first arch, which faces west, stands the person of the Father, in the second, which looks towards the south and the east, is the person of the Son, and in the third arch, looking north is the person of the Holy Spirit. In addition, at the top is a silver ball, resplendent, on which a cross invaluable.)



  15. The three lamps

  In front of the altar of Santiago, three huge silver lamps are suspended for the glory of Christ and the Apostle. The one in the middle is huge, and worked marvellously like a large grinding bowl, containing seven receptacles, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, in which seven lamps are placed.

  These receive only balsam, myrtle or olive oil. The receptacle in the middle is bigger than the others. And in each one around this one, two apostles are carved on the outside.

  May the soul of King Alfonso of Aragon, who by tradition gave it to Santiago, rest in peace forever.


  16. The authority of the church of Santiago, and of its canons.

  At the altar of Santiago, normally no one celebrates Mass unless he’s either a bishop, Archbishop, Pope, or a Cardinal of this same church. It is common practise in this basilica that seven cardinals, by custom, celebrate divine office on the altar, as established and permitted by many popes, and moreover confirmed by the Lord Pope Calixtinus. This grace, which the basilica of Santiago has by good custom, for the love of the apostle should not be taken away by anybody.


  17. The Builders of the Church, and the start and completion of the work

  The master stonemasons who built the basilica of Santiago were named Bernard the Old, a wonderful master, and Robert, who with another fifty masons worked painstakingly under the faithful supervision of Master Wicart, the head of the Chapter Segeredo, and Abbot Gundesindo, in the reign of King Alfonso of Spain under Bishop Diego, a most active soldier and generous man.

  The church was begun in 1078. From the year it was begun to the death of Alfonso, the bravest and most renowned king of Aragon, there were 59 years; until the murder of Henry, King of England, 62 years; and until the death of Louis the Fat, King of France, 63 years. From the laying of the first stone in the foundations to the last was 44 years.

  From the beginning until the present day, the church has been always renewed by the glittering miracles of St James. For health is given to the sick, vision to the blind, the tongue of the speechless is released, hearing is revealed to the deaf, health is given to the crippled, the possessed are liberated. And, what is more, prayers of the faithful are heard, their vows are taken up, the chains of sin are loosened, heaven is closed to those who assail it, solace is given to the sad, and people of all nations, from every part of the world, come trooping together bearing gifts of praise to the Lord.


  18. The status of the Church of Santiago

  Nor should it be forgotten that the status of the archbishopric of the city, which was previously in Merida, a city in Saracen territory, was transferred to the city and basilica of Santiago by Pope Calixtinus, of happy memory, given for love and honour of the Apostle. For this, he ordained and confirmed Diego, a most noble man, as the first archbishop if the Apostolic Seat of Compostella. Diego himself had previously been the bishop of St James.



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delhommeb at - 01/01/2013