Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Arms of Santiago de Compostela

Arms of Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compestela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.

The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St, James, or El Camino.

Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sanctu Iacobu " Saint James". As for Compostela, folk etymology presumes it proceeds from the Latin Campus Stellae (i.e. "Field of the Star"), but more probable etymologies relate the word with Latin compositum, and local Vulgar Latin Composita Tella meaning "burial ground" as a euphemism, or simply with the hypocoristic compositellam, "the well composed" .

According to a tradition that can be traced back at least to the 12th century, when it was recorded in the recently stolen Codex Calixtinus, Saint James decided to return to the Holy Land after preaching in Galicia. There he was beheaded, but his disciples managed to get his body to Jaffa, where they found a marvelous stone ship, which miraculously conduced the apostle's body and the disciples to Iria Flavia, back in Galicia. There, the disciples asked for permission to earthen the body to the local pagan queen, Lupa ('She-wolf'); she, annoyed with the newcomers, decided to the deceive them, sending them to pick a pair of oxes she allegedly had by the Pico Sacro, a local sacred mountain where a dragon dwelt, hoping that the dragon would kill the Christians., but at the sign of the cross, the dragon exploded. Then, the disciples marched to pick the oxes, which were really raging bulls which the queen used to punish her enemies; but at the sign of the cross the bulls calmed down, and subjected to a yoke, carried the apostle's body to what now is Compostela. The legend was again referred in the 15th century by the Czech traveler Jaroslav Lev.

The relics were said to have been later rediscovered in the 9th century by a hermit named Pelagius, who after observing strange lights in a local forest, went for help after the local bishop, Theodemar of Iria Flavia, in the west of Galicia. Theodemar was then guided to the spot by a star, the legend affirmed, drawing upon a familiar myth-element, hence "Compostela" was given an etymology as a corruption of Campus Stellae, "Field of Stars."

The Coat-of-Arms for the city show the star shining bright above the Apostle's Tomb. The scallop shell beside the shield is the symbol of St James, probably because mendicant pilgrims carried them to beg for small alms and food, and as a symbol of their peregrination. It is also useful for scooping water from streams &c. without disturbing much sediment and dirt.

In Whitstable children traditionally make crotters, piles of cemented oyster shells. The tradition has its origins in ancient Catholicism where small Grottos were made to honour St James (Patron saint of oyster fishermen) around 25 July, the saint's feast day.

1 comment:

ElizT said...

Didn't know that's why people wear little crosses,I am unprotected from dragons. But exploding ones could cause injury.