Vino con Vista Vezelay France on the UNESCO Route: The Way of Saint James is the Camino de Santiago to Spain

English: Reliquary with a supposed head of St....

English: Reliquary with a supposed head of St. Mary Magdalena, made by Reviol in 19th cent, at Saint-Maximin-de-la-Sainte-Baume basilique. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I traveled to the picturesque Vino con Vista village of Vezelay France in the Yonne department in northern Burgundy. Bourgogne Vezelay is the local wine appellation.

The Romanesque Vezelay Abbey, the Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene Basilique (Sainte-Marie-Madeleine) dominates the hilly Burgundy landscape.

 

Vézelay

Vézelay (Photo credit: gcorret)

Français : Statue de Bernard de Clairvaux, Mai...

Français : Statue de Bernard de Clairvaux, Maison natale de Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, Fontaine-lès-Dijon, Côte-d’Or, Bourgogne,FRANCE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: louis VII of france

English: louis VII of france (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ascension of Mary Magdalene

Ascension of Mary Magdalene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Map of the way of St James In Europe

Map of the way of St James In Europe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mary Magdalene. Lime tree wood and polychromy,...

Mary Magdalene. Lime tree wood and polychromy, 16th century. Part of the feet were restored in the 19th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Statues of David and Solomon on the flight of ...

Statues of David and Solomon on the flight of steps leading to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Santiago apostle. Palace of Raxoi, Sa...

English: Santiago apostle. Palace of Raxoi, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia (Spain) Galego: Apóstolo Santiago, Pazo de Raxoi, Santiago, Galicia (Spain) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bourgogne - Vezelay - Basilique Sainte-Madelei...

Bourgogne – Vezelay – Basilique Sainte-Madeleine – Façade avant (Photo credit: Francis Fantoni)

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Galicia, A C...

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Galicia, A Coruña, Spain which houses the tomb of St. James son of Zebedee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Henry became a Cistercian under the influence ...

Henry became a Cistercian under the influence of Bernard of Clairvaux, shown here in a 13th century illuminated manuscript. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Walk in the footsteps of the pilgrims and the Crusaders at the Vezelay Abbey.  It has a long history of links to Crusades. It was dedicated on April 21, 1104. It became such a popular pilgrimage site that Pope Innocent II extended the narthex to accomodate them in 1132. Crusaders gathered around Saint Bernard of Clairvaux when he preached for a 2nd Crusade on Easter 1146, in the presence of King Louis VII. Saint Bernard was canonized by Pope ALexander III on January 18, 1174.

 In 1190, Richard I of England (Richard the Lion-Hearted) and Phillip II of France spent three months here before leaving for the 3rd Crusade. It was sacked by the Huguenots in 1569 and severely damaged during the French Revolution.
 
It became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. In 1987, the European Union declared the Camino de Santiago to be the first European Cultural Itinerary.

English: Saint Bernard of Clairvaux - Sint Ber...

English: Saint Bernard of Clairvaux – Sint Bernardusstraat, Maastricht, The Netherlands. By Jean Sondeijker, 1946. Nederlands: Sint Bernardus van Clairvaux – Sint Bernardusstraat, Maastricht. Door Jean Sondeijker, 1946. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vézelay’s hilltop location has made it an obvious site for a town since ancient times. In the 9th century the Benedictines were given land to build a monastery. According to legend, not long before the end of the first millennium a monk named Baudillon brought relics (bones) of Mary Magdalene to Vézelay from Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume

 

 

 

 

When you climb the hill to the Basilica you will notice the shells on the street. Climb the crest to the summit of the hill climbed by  millions of pilgrims as they make their way to Compostella Spain to venerate the remains of St. James, the Apostle. For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have walked the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), “seeking penance, enlightenment, and adventure.” Santiago de Compostela was proclaimed the first European Cultural itinerary by the Council of Europe in 1987. There are about 1,800 historic buildings along the route.

The shells on the street indicate that this is the Way of Saint James; the Camino de Santiago. Four major routes through France lead to the Spanish Cathedral in Galicia including: Paris through Tours (Via Turonensis), Vézelay (Via Lemovicensis) and Le Puy-en-Velay.

When I climbed the steep slope to the magnificent church, I saw many pilgrims on their way into

Abbatiale de Vézelay, Bourgogne, France : nart...

Abbatiale de Vézelay, Bourgogne, France : narthex, tympan de droite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the Basilica. When I entered the church, they had congregated in the narthex under the central tympanum and began praying. The tympanum depicts a benevolent Christ with arms wide open, flanked on both sides by his his Apostles conveying his message to them. He is sending the Crusaders out; they were guaranteed remission of their sins if they participated in the Crusades.

 

I followed the pilgrims  into the church where they walked over to the staircase under the statue of Saint Mary Magdelene. When they arrived at her shrine with her relics, they began singing. Although I have been to Lourdes and Fatima, I can honestly say that this was one of the most moving spiritual displays of faith that I have ever witnessed.

 

France, Abbey of la Madaleine Vezelay, 12th ce...

France, Abbey of la Madaleine Vezelay, 12th century tympanum, Romanesque sculpture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Saint Mary Magdalene was recognized by early church fathers as “the apostle to the apostles”. According to the Gospel, she “stood in the presence of the risen Jesus and went to tell the other disciples the news of the Resurrection”. Shortly after its foundation in the 9th century, the Cluniac Benedictine abbey of Vezelay acquired the relics of St. Mary Magdalene and has been an important pilgrimage ever since. Her relics were transfered from her sepulchre in the Dominican oratory of Saint Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume at Aix en Provence to protect them from the Saracens. In 1058, Pope Stephen IX, confirmed the authenticity of the relics, leading to an influx of pilgrims that has continued to this day.

 

¨raza das Praterias; cathedral of Santiago de ...

¨raza das Praterias; cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNESCO:

1. “Pilgrimages were an essential part of western European spiritual and cultural life in the Middle Ages and the routes that they took were equipped with facilities for the spiritual and physical well-being of pilgrims. The Route of St James of Compostela has preserved the most complete material record in the form of ecclesiastical and secular buildings, settlements both large and small, and civil engineering structures. This Route played a fundamental role in facilitating the two-way interchange of cultural developments between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages. There is no comparable Christian pilgrimage route of such extent and continuity anywhere in Europe: the other two pilgrimage routes, to Jerusalem and Rome, are only recognizable in a very fragmentary fashion. In addition to its enormous historical and spiritual value, it also represents a remarkably complete cross-section of European artistic and architectural evolution over several centuries.

 

2. The different pilgrimage routes converged on Santiago de Compostela, at the foot of the Apostle’s tomb, and were lined with works of art and architectural creations. The cultural heritage scattered along the length of these routes is immensely rich. It represents the birth of Romanesque art; then came the Gothic cathedrals and the chains of monasteries.

 

3. The tradition whereby the Apostle St James the Great preached the Gospel in Spain dates from the early 7th century. In the Latin Breviary of the Apostles, St Jerome held that apostles were buried where they preached, and so it was assumed that the body of St James had been moved from Jerusalem, where according to the Acts of the Apostles he was martyred on the order of Herod Agrippa, to a final resting place in Spain. It was not until the 9th century that the apostle’s tomb was identified at Compostela. The late 8th century saw the consolidation of the Christian kingdom of Galicia and Asturias in northern Spain, with the support of Charlemagne. It was to provide the base for the reconquest of the peninsula from Muslim domination, a process that was not to be completed until 1492. The apostle had been adopted as its patron saint by the Christian kingdom against the menace of Islam, and in the early years of the 9th century, during the reign of Alfonso II, his tomb was ‘discovered’ in a small shrine by the hermit Pelayo and Todemiro, bishop of the most westerly diocese in the kingdom.

 

4. The fame of the tomb of St James quickly spread across western Europe and it became a place of pilgrimage. By the beginning of the 10th century pilgrims were coming to Spain on the French routes from Tours, Limoges, and Le Puy, and facilities for their bodily and spiritual welfare began to be endowed along what gradually became recognized as the formal pilgrimage route, while in Compostela itself a magnificent new basilica was built to house the relics of the Apostle, along with other installations – churches, chapels, hospices and hospitals. The 12th century saw the route achieve its greatest influence, used by thousands of pilgrims from all over Western Europe. In 1139 the first ‘guidebook’ to the Route appeared, in the form of Book V of the Calixtine Codex (attributed to Pope Calixtus II but most probably the work of the pilgrim Aymeric Picaud), describing its precise alignment from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela and listing the facilities available to pilgrims. These structures, ranging from humble chapels and hospices to magnificent cathedrals, represent every aspect of artistic and architectural evolution from Romanesque to Baroque and beyond, demonstrating the intimate linkages between faith and culture in the Middle Ages.

 

5. There are two access routes into Spain from France, entering at Roncesvalles (Valcarlos Pass) and Canfranc (Somport Pass) respectively; they merge west of Pamplona, just before Puente la Reina. It passes through five Comunidades Autónomas and 166 towns and villages, and it includes over 1,800 buildings of historic interest; in many cases the modern road runs parallel to the ancient route. The tradition of pilgrimage to Santiago has not ceased since that time, although its popularity waned in recent centuries. Since it was declared to be the first European Cultural Itinerary by the Council of Europe in 1987, however, it has resumed the spiritual role that it played in the Middle Ages, and every year sees many thousands of pilgrims following it on foot or bicycle.”

 

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC

 

UNESCO Historical Description

“The tradition whereby the apostle St James the Great preached the gospel in Spain dates from the early 7th century, in the Latin Breviary of the Apostles. St Jerome held that apostles were buried where they preached, and so it was assumed that the body of St James had been moved from Jerusalem, where according to the Acts of the Apostles, he was martyred on the order of Herod Agrippa, to a final resting place in Spain.

It was not until the 9th century that the apostle’s tomb was identified at Compostela. The late 8th century saw the consolidation of the Christian kingdom of Galicia and Asturias in northern Spain, with the support of Charlemagne. It was to provide the base for the reconquest of the peninsula from Muslim domination, a process that was not to be completed until 1492. The apostle had been adopted as its patron saint by the Christian kingdom, and in the early years of the 9th century, during the reign of Alfonso II, his tomb was “discovered” in a small shrine by the hermit Pelayo and Todemiro, Bishop of the most westerly diocese in the kingdom.

The fame of the tomb of St James, protector of Christendom against the menace of Islam, quickly spread across western Europe and it became a place of pilgrimage, comparable with Jerusalem and Rome. By the beginning of the 10th century pilgrims were coming to Spain on the French routes from Tours, Limoges, and Le Puy, and facilities for their bodily and spiritual welfare began to be endowed along what gradually became recognized as the formal pilgrimage route, whilst in Compostela itself a magnificent new basilica was built to house the relics of the apostle, along with other installations – churches, chapels, hospices, and hospitals. The 12th century saw the Route achieve its greatest influence, used by thousands of pilgrims from all over Western Europe. In 1139 the first “guidebook” to the Route appeared, in the form of Book V of the Calixtine Codex (attributed to Pope Calixtus II but most probably the work of the pilgrim Ayrneric Picaud), describing its precise alignment from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela and listing the facilities available to pilgrims. These structures, ranging from humble chapels and hospices to magnificent cathedrals, represent every aspect of artistic and architectural evolution from Romanesque to Baroque and beyond, demonstrating the intimate linkages between faith and culture in the Middle Ages. The establishment of the pilgrimage route inevitably led to its adoption as a commercial route, resulting in economic prosperity for several of the towns along its length.

The tradition of pilgrimage to Santiago has not ceased since that time, though its popularity waned in recent centuries. Since it was declared to be the first European Cultural Itinerary by the Council of Europe in 1987, however, it has resumed the spiritual role that it played in the Middle Ages, and every year sees many thousands of pilgrims following it on foot or bicycle.”

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com

Tympan (externe) de l'abbatiale de Vézelay

Tympan (externe) de l’abbatiale de Vézelay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

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