Monday, 18 January 2010

Diego Gelmirez, Bishop of Compostela...

...and a happy man!

But not just yet. Perhaps there was opposition to Diego becoming bishop. We don't know. If there was, the Historia Compostelana not surprisingly, chooses to miss that part out.

It is assumed that Diego was elected by the Chapter, but did his "unanimous approval" include that of the secular authorities? Fletcher in St. James' Catapult suggests that Diego's election was by no means a foregone conclusion. It might have been "more of a touch and go affair" that the Historia Compostelana - which we have to remember was commissioned by Gelmirez once bishop - allows us to see.

Nevertheless, Diego certainly had the approval of the royal family and that was all that mattered.

Normally, consecration was to take place at the hands of the Pope in Rome. Diego, however, didn't want to travel through Aragon where his old enemy King Pedro had given sanctuary to Diego Pelaez. Instead, he asked the king to write to Pope Paschal II to allow the consecration to take place nearer to home. This, in my opinion, is where things become rather intriguing...

A letter to this effect is written and conveyed along the Camino and on to Rome by two canons of Compostela: Hugo and Vincent. The Pontiff gave his ready agreement and the two set off for home. But they didn't get far.

Somewhere, presumably while overnighting in France and not far from the border between that country and Aragon, the two both became violently ill, so much so that Vincent succumbed to his illness and Hugo, while he survived, was presumably so sick that he was unable to send word to Galicia.

As a result, Diego remained a bishop without a bishopric. After a while, another deputation was dispatched, this time containing Munio one of his many brothers (Diego may have invented the word "nepotism") along with another Munio(or Muño)who was to become the earliest of the authors of the Historia Compostelana. Paschal renewed his permissions and the two returned home without incident. Meanwhile, Hugo who had recovered sufficiently to travel, made his own way home. It had been a long time since he had seen Galicia: five months in fact.

It had also been a long time since Diego had been elected as Bishop of Santiago de Compostela. But Diego was a patient man. Finally, with the expected pomp and circumstance no doubt, Diego Gelmirez, son of Gelmirio, aged approximately 36 years old - a man of humble birth but grand ambitions - was consecrated on April 21st,1101.

He was most likely the most self-satisfied man in all the kingdoms that day.
Sneak Peak...!

If you would like a preview of the Prologue of my new book "Compostela" go to:

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