IX. The City and Basilica of St. James
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.
The churches of the city
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
Basilica of Santiago is the length of fifty-three
men, from the west doorway to the altar of St Salvador.
is thirty-nine men wide, from the French to the
south doorway; in the inside, it is fourteen times
a man’s height.
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.
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.
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].
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].
main aisle has twenty-nine pillars, fourteen on
the right, the same to the left, and one between
the doors on the north.
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.
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].
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.
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
who goes up to the upper galleries, if sad going
up, will see the perfect beauty and will rejoice
and be happy.
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.
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.
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.
St James Fountain)
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.
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.
water coming out of the lions’ mouths falls into
the shell below, and from there exits the basin
through a hole below the ground.
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:
Bernard, treasurer of Santiago,
this water here and placed this monument,
cure my soul and the souls of my parents.
The forecourt (Paradise) of the city
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
French street has money changers, hotel keepers,
and other merchants. The forecourt is a stone’s
throw long and wide.
The North (‘French’) Doorway
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.
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.
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.
the left above the entrance, entering the side,
are the months of the year and many other fine works.
fierce lions are on the outside wall, one to the
right and the other to the left, as if always watching
the thresholds are four apostles, each holding books
in their hands, and giving blessings with raised right
hands to those entering the basilica.
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.
the heads of the apostles, springing forth from
the lintels, are remarkable carved bulls’ heads.
The South Doorway (Puerta de la Platerias)
are two entrances in south doorway of the apostolic
basilica, as we have said, and four doors.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
are marble, some stone, carved with extraordinary
images: flowers, men, birds, animals. The columns
are of white marble.
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
great and admirable justice to an adulterous woman,
to be told to all!
the top line, above the four doors towards the gallery
of the basilica, a series miraculously gleams in white
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.
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
there are four angels over the doors, each holding
a horn, proclaiming the day of judgement.
The West Doorway
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.
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.
are St James and Peter and John, to whom God revealed
his transfiguration before all others.
The towers of the Basilica
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.
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.
The altars of the basilica
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.
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.
The Body and the Altar of St James
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Front of the silvered altar
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
siding is a harmonious workplace, and carries up
to this entry:
siding Diego II, Bishop of Saint-James
the fifth year of his episcopate.
cost four to twenty five marks of silver.
down there the other inscription:
was king, his son duke Raymond
aforesaid bishop, when this work was completed.)
Canopy of the altar of the apostle
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.
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.
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.)
The three lamps
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.
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.
the soul of King Alfonso of Aragon, who by tradition
gave it to Santiago, rest in peace forever.
The authority of the church of Santiago, and of
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.
The Builders of the Church, and the start and completion
of the work
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.
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.
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.
The status of the Church of Santiago
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.
à Codex. Guide
at wanadoo.fr - 01/01/2013