James, the older son of Zebedee and older brother of the apostle John was a seaman and fisherman in Galilee when he was selected by Christ to be a fisher of men. After the death of Christ he was chosen to preach the word on the Iberian Peninsula. After seeing a vision of the Virgin James returned to Rome to tell Peter (Acts of the Apostles written by Luke in Rome). In Rome, James was captured and beheaded by Herod Agrippa.
Old Christian texts reinforced by medieval texts after his martyrdom record that James’s desciples Theodorus and Athanasius gathered his remains which where thrown out of the walled city for animals to consume and they transported his remains to the Palestinian coast. In the harbor of Jaffa a merchant ship (the stone boat or a boat that carried stone from this region to other ports) carried his remains to the limits of the known world where James had been preaching.
Following known sea routes, the boat entered the Ria de Arusha. A type of fjord that cuts deeply into what we now know as Galicia. From there they sailed up the Ulla river passing the Roman settlements of Turris Augusti and Pontecesures to the town of Padron.
From here, the remains were taken by land to Mount Libredon and buried. The remains were rediscovered in the early 10th century and Santiago de Compostela was added to the list of Rome and Jerusalem as places where Christians should make a pilgrimage in their lifetime.
I sit tonight in Padron, about to complete my second such pilgrimage humbled by the historic surroundings and the thought of the many millions that have made such a pilgrimage before me and how their experiences changed them and their cultures forever.