Monday, 1 March 2010

An Unholy Theft

It’s been a long journey to get to this point since I began this history of the Cult of Santiago. We’ve taken a few detours and met many characters along the road. Now it’s time to take the way south, to Braga in what is now Portugal.

And to my favourite Diego Gelmirez story…

Churches are a network, or perhaps more accurately a hierarchy. A cathedral church will have certain properties, or "sufragens". The church of St. Fructuosus on the outskirts of Braga was just such a one.

It had been built by the saint himself and harboured his relics. However, the church had been granted to the Church of Santiago in 883, in the time of Alfonso III shortly before the consecration of the second cathedral in Compostela. Fructuosus held the same place in the hearts of the people of Braga as Santiago was to do in Compostela. There was no question though, I have to add, of the authenticity of THIS saint’s remains. Fructuosus surrounded himself after his death with his church and with his followers and believers. And they were many.

Diego Gelmirez, however, knew that to cultivate a Cult, if you will pardon the pun, one needs relics. He already had those of “St. James” (and he was about to make sure that the world knew it), but when it comes to relics, well you can never have too many can you? Diego had already visited Braga in 1092 and knew the monetary, um... spiritual attraction of the earthly remains of San Fructuosus. It was time, reasoned our bishop, to pay a visit to Braga and its bishop, Giraldo.

And so Diego conceived “a cunning plan”!

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