Grant | Camino de Santiago and Tomb of St. James: history and interpretation

Grant

urnaThe aim of our research is a multidisciplinary investigation of the phenomenon of medieval pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Relying on the latest historical research concerning the authenticity and history of the tomb of St James in Compostela and the purpose of pilgrimages from the Middle Ages until now we wish to examine questions concerning hermeneutics of faith, namely the theological and philosophical background of medieval peregrinations (anthropological and theological analysis of works created on Camino, especially the description of routes of peregrinations, treaties on the theological meaning of pilgrimage, etc.).

 

Conducting multidisciplinary research in a group of the most recognised experts in this field both on the threshold of Camino (in Poland) and at the finishing line (in Spain), we wish to demonstrate significant dependencies and influences between Polish and Spanish sacral art devoted to the cult of St James, the influence of theological and philosophical ideas which reached Poland thanks to Camino, linguistic interferences, legal protection of pilgrims and discovery of new testimonies concerning the scale and character of Polish pilgrimages to Santiago in the Middle Ages based on the broad and pioneering research in Spanish archives. So far the research has focused only on Polish sources, liturgical books and diaries.

 

The main research subject is to become acquainted with the themes associated with the past and  present of  the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) which had a significant influence on the shape of medieval Europe, the formation of international law and creation of climate for intercultural  and religious dialogue, exchange of philosophical thought and formation of new architectural styles. Camino focuses as if in the lens the most important events of European history; it represents philosophical and theological paradigms which shaped mentality and creation of European culture in the Middle Ages. It is a very important challenge  for theology, especially theological anthropology and the field described as “geography of faith” which analyses religiosity of man, the pilgrim character of his fate rendered by G. Marcel as homo viator. In this way Camino contributes to the configuration and research on religious identity of a modern man and entire societies, which is particularly important for fundamental theology.

 

This aim will be realized within a framework of international cooperation with the scholars from Santiago de Compostela, Pamplona, Barcelona and Jerusalem fulfilling several intermediate research aims:

- the history of St James’ tomb in Santiago de Compostela and its authenticity. The tomb was discovered at the beginning of the 9th century. However, historical documents from that period are incomplete and it is not known what convinced Church authorities (bishop Teodomiro) to confirm the authenticity of the findings. The key to discover it is archeology, but the tomb had undertaken many changes over the centuries. Research carried out in the 20th century was not methodologically associated with it and made only cursory observations. Moreover, many notes on this subject have not be published yet and are stored in the archive of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Furthermore, the recent research of prof.Enrique Alarcón (Universidad de Navarra) has led to the discovery of inscriptions on the tomb of the Apostle, which are the key to interpret its history. Research hypothesis is as follows: initially the tomb used to be a Roman mausoleum associated with the so-called mansion viaria ( always built in the vicinity of Roman tracks) from app. 50 AD. Around 70 AD a modification was introduced resembling the Christian burial from Jerusalem. In approximately 175 AD the inscriptions concerning St. James and his stay in Spain appeared, which casts light on less known later interferences which ranged from approximately 200 AD to the 5th century.

- obtaining new information about Polish participants of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, starting with the Middle Ages and finishing with modern times based on primary sources from the north of Spain. Information concerning number, sex, age and status of pilgrims to Santiago will constitute the basis for describing the essence and character of Polish tradition of pilgrimage in this area. Accumulated material will serve to illustrate the phenomenon of language interference in the north of Spain based on the example of transcription of Polish proper names by Spanish users of Latin

- determination of the influence of Camino de Santiago as a “cultural channel” on the form of European culture; knowledge of medieval cultural interaction rules, description of the mode of encounter of many cultures and traditions within a framework of medieval Europe, mapping of Camino’s influence on the shape of medieval theology and philosophy, analysis of influence of music and iconography of St James in Spain on artistic manifestations of St James’ cult in Poland. Interpretation of the specifics of formal and iconographic phenomena within a framework of St James’ heritage.

- getting access to liturgical texts which are historically significant to understand the genesis of St. James’ cult and throw light on pilgrims’ motivation, social interactions as well as their influence on cultural life. Theological analysis of the most significant texts concerning anthropology of pilgrimage which constitutes an important background for medieval peregrinations. It signifies the concentration on viatoric understanding of human fate which is present in the  theological and philosophical works of the greatest scholastics who were shaping mentality and sensitivity of medieval religiosity, in medieval Camino guidebooks, especially in Liber Sancti Iacobi , or medieval treaties devoted to theology of pilgrimage.

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