The Way of Saint James
via
Celanova

After the fall of the Roman Empire its network of roads continued to be used, also for pilgrimages towards Santiago de Compostela. Many pilgrims preferred roads that allowed them to visit other shrines with the relics of other saints and in this way also pay homage to them.

Benedictine monasteries played a significant role regarding the promotion of the Way of Saint James. As well as pilgrims were protected along the way from a myriad of dangers by military orders like that of the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem or that of the Knights of Saint James.

The Romanesque architecture of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela exerted great influence in Galicia, especially in places related to the Way of Saint James. Of the characteristic decorative patterns of the Romanesque architecture of the Way of Saint James is the so-called “ajedrezado” or “taqueado jaqués” (the chessboard decorative motive).

This old medieval trail included along most of its itinerary two ancient Roman roads: a main road – Roman road XVIII also called “Via Nova”: from Bracara Augusta (present-day Braga, Portugal) to Asturica Augusta (present-day Astorga, Spain), and a secondary road of the latter – from Aquis Querquennis to Lucus Augusti (present-day Lugo, Spain), via Auriensis (present-day Ourense, Spain). Placenames in the municipality of Verea – O Veiro, Portela, and also Verea –, as well as milestones found in Celanova, A Merca and San Cibrao das Viñas are testimony of the latter.

In the Middle Ages pilgrims especially those of the area around Braga followed Roman road Via XVIII (“Via Nova”) from Braga, visiting Dume – relics of Saint Martin of Braga … 578/580- , up to Bande – relics of Saint Torquatus … s. I d.c. (disciple of the Apostle Saint James according to the Codex Callixtinus – and Bishop of Guádix, twin town of Celanova ; relics later taken to Celanova). From Bande pilgrims followed the secondary road of this Roman road  that ran through Celanova and Ourense and reached Lugo – walking via Verea (path) up to the Monastery of Celanova – relics of Saint Rudesind … 977 and those of Saint Torquatus –  and would continue up to Ourense  – worship of the Holy Christ of Ourense and of Saint Euphemia.

Many members of the Portuguese nobility and royalty made their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela since the discovery of the tomb of the apostle Saint James the Great. The “Rainha Santa Isabel” (Queen Saint Elizabeth,  Elizabeth of Portugal) (1271-1336) – born Isabel of Aragón – made her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela from Braga allegedly via Celanova. This trail is known nowadays as the “Ruta da Rainha Santa” (Trail of the Holy Queen).

The “Tumbo de Celanova” – a medieval manuscript – includes the plans of the abbot of the Monastery of Celanova and the prior of the monastery of Saint Munio of Veiga to build in the early 12th century a hospital for pilgrims in Portela, Verea, therefore the amount of people using this medieval trail couldn’t be scant.

The way of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela “Caminho de Celanova” would run through the following localities until it reached Celanova:

– within Portugal: Porto, Maia (Águas Santas), Santo Tirso – alleged birthplace of Saint Rudesind and nowadays twin town of Celanova -, Vilanova de Famalicão, Braga (and  Dume), Amares, Terras de Bouro (Portela do Homem)

– within Spain: Lobios (Portela de Home), Bande, Lobeira, Verea, up to Celanova.

From Celanova it’s possible to reach the “Southeast Way – Via de la Plata Trail” walking:

– eastwards along a medieval road – centuries later called “Camino Real” (Royal Road) – up to Allariz – one of the most important Galician towns in the Middle Ages and located close to the sanctuary of Santa Mariña de Augas Santas – or

– northwards up to A Merca (Church of Saint Peter of A Mezquita) and from here up to San Cibrao das Viñas.

Also from Celanova following part of the itinerary of the so-called “Way of Saint Rudesind” one can continue northwards via Barbadás (Church of Saint Martin in Loiro).

In any case pilgrims would follow the layout of the “Southeast Way – Vía de la Plata” up to Santiago de Compostela where they visited the tomb of the apostle Saint James the Great whose “discovery” was confirmed early in the 9th century by the Bishop of Iria Flavia – Theodomir. This pilgrimage trail was a source of inspiration for music in the Middle Ages.

From Portela de Home – in Lobios – towards Celanova and in its surroundings – apart from valuable remains of Roman times and interesting samples of ethnographic architecture – along this trail we can visit the following:

 

ARCHITECTURE

IGREXA DE SANTA COMBA DE BANDE
SAINT COLUMBA’S CHURCH AT BANDE
(Bande (San Torcuato))

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1921 (first in the province of Ourense)
Style: Pre-Romanesque: Visigothic (7th century)

  • It’s the oldest church in Galicia.
  • This church is the best sample of Visigothic architecture in Galicia and one of the best preserved in Spain.
  • It was part of a monastery that was founded when the relics of Saint Torquatus – one of the first disciples of Saint James the Great and Bishop of Guádix, a sister city of Celanova – were brought to Bande by people from the southern region of the Iberian peninsula after it was occupied by the Moors. At first it was called Church of “Saint Torquatus”.
  • In the inside there’s a sepulcher made of marble that is supposed to be that of Saint Torquatus until his relics were taken to the Monastery of Celanova.
    Video
  • It depended on the Monastery of Celanova.
    Igrexa de Santa Comba de Bande

 

IGREXA DE SANTIAGO DE CADÓS
SAINT JAMES’ CHURCH AT CADÓS
(Bande (Cadós))

  • There are depictions of Saint James as a pilgrim – on the façade – as a warrior in the Battle of Clavijo and as a martyr – in the inside in the altarpiece.
    Igrexa de Santiago de Cadós

 

IGREXA DE SANTIAGO DE VEREA
SAINT JAMES’ CHURCH AT VEREA
(Verea (Carballo))

  • It dates back to ca. the XVII century.
  • There are depictions of Saint James as a pilgrim – on the façade and as a warrior in the Battle of Clavijo and again as a pilgrim – in the inside in the Baroque altarpiece.
    Igrexa de Santiago de Verea

 

MOSTEIRO DE SAN SALVADOR DE CELANOVA
SAINT SAVIOUR’S MONASTERY IN CELANOVA
(Celanova)

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1931 (and since 1932 the Chapel of Saint Michael) & Europa Nostra Award (1984)

Styles: Pre-Romanesque: Mozarabic (Chapel of Saint Michael), Romanesque, Renaissance & Baroque

  • It was one of the most important monasteries in Spain and in the province of Ourense – along with that of Oseira, on the Southeast Way – Vía de la Plata.
  • It was founded in the 10th century by Saint Rudesind.
  • The silver reliquary urn of Saint Rudesind (on lower left-hand side) and that of Saint Torquatus (on the lower right-hand side) are placed in the altarpiece of the main altar.

 

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IGREXA DE SAN MUNIO DE VEIGA
SAINT MUNIO’S CHURCH AT VEIGA
(A Bola (Veiga))

  • This church was part of a monastery founded in the 9th century by the anchorite San Munio – his sepulcher is in the main chapel.
  • The former monastery of Veiga belonged first to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem and later to the Order of Knights of Saint James – both protected pilgrims along the Way of Saint James.
  • In 1105 a couple donated the part of this monastery that belonged to them to the monastery of Celanova.
  • In the inside there’s a Romanesque processional cross with Byzantine influence that dates back to the 12th
    Igrexa de San Munio de Veiga

 

IGREXA DE SAN PEDRO DE A MEZQUITA
SAINT PETER’S CHURCH AT A Mezquita
(A Merca)

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1931 
Style: late Romanesque (12th century)

  • One of the archivolts on the main façade is decorated with the so-called “ajedrezado” – chessboard decorative motive – characteristic of Romanesque architecture along the Way of Saint James.
    Igrexa de San Pedro de A Mezquita

 

IGREXA DE SAN MARTIÑO DE LOIRO
SAINT MARTIN’S CHURCH AT LOIRO
(Barbadás)

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1982
Style: late Romanesque (1110)

  • One of the archivolts on the main façade is decorated with the so-called “ajedrezado” – chessboard decorative motive – characteristic of Romanesque architecture along the Way of Saint James.
    Igrexa de San Martiño de Loiro

 

HIKING TRAILS

CAMIÑO NATURAL VIA NOVA
VIA NOVA NATURAL PATH
Camiño Natural Via Nova

This trail allows pilgrims to walk the stretch of the Way of Saint James from Braga (Portugal) to Bande (Spain).

CAMIÑO NATURAL DE SAN ROSENDO
SAINT RUDESIND’S NATURAL PATH
Camiño Natural de San Rosendo

This trail allows pilgrims to walk the stretch of the Way of Saint James from Bande to Celanova, and from Celanova to the city of Ourense. From the city of Ourense pilgrims follow the Southeast Way-Vía de la Plata.

 

*BIC (Bien de interés cultural) – “Heritage of Cultural Interest” – applies to classified heritage in Spain.

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