Santiago de Compostela is the site where, it is said, you will find the bones of St James The Apostle and is the third most holy site in Christianity, after the Holy Land and the Vatican.
St James was the 4th apostle and, along with his brother John the Evangelist, was asked by Jesus to follow him and he would make them “fishers of men”. It is said that Christ later told James to go west to the end of the earth preaching the gospel.
In those days, Spain was the furthest point west before the discovery of the Americas, and Finisterre in Galicia is the most westerly point of the peninsula. James’ trip was largely unsuccessful and he returned to the Holy Land where Herod Agrippa later beheaded him in A.D. 44.
Many legends have developed to explain the appearance of St James’ bones in Spain and the development of the pilgrim routes in the middle ages. The most consistent are that the followers of St James carried his body by boat to Galicia and buried him there.
Around 800 years later a hermit is said to have seen a bright star with a glowing light that fell to earth at Compostela (possibly from Campus Stellea, starry field) where the bones of St James were subsequently found.
The legend also says that during the reconquest of Spain, St James appeared on a white horse and slayed the moors, encouraging the Spanish Christian troops to fight harder to regain their country.
For those that don’t know, St James is the patron saint of Spain and there is a national fiesta on 25th July dedicated to him.