Friday, 26 June 2009

Lack of Evidence?

The first “evidence” we have of James having been buried in Spain comes from the “Martyriology” of Usuard of Sant German des Pres writing in 865 or thereabouts. This monk claimed that “James had travelled in Spain” and that his “most Holy Remains were translated from Jerusalem to Spain and deposited in its uttermost region: ‘in ultimos finibis’, where they were “revered with the most devout veneration”.

So now we have evidence, it would appear, in the general belief that St. James’ relics had been transported to the north-west of Spain, and perhaps most importantly in the evidence of a cult following. But let’s take a look at the presently accepted story.

Somewhere between 818 and 842 (and we can’t date this more accurately) remains were found in Galicia. The king was Alfonso II (791 – 842). The bishop of Iria Flavia was Theodemir who died, with some accuracy, on the 20th of October 847. The existence of Theodemir had been thrown into some doubt, but it has been shown that the date of his death was even inscribed on his sarcophagus which was found during the course of excavation of the nave beneath Santiago Cathedral.

It is interesting to note that Theodemir believed enough in the miracle of St. James’ tomb to want to be buried near him in Santiago Cathedral ( i.e. not at Iria his own see), such as it was in those days. Of course, sceptic as I am, it would have been easy to inscribe his name at a later date as was done with other remains.

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