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

I was just saying to Clammie the other day how restless I was for a

good long walk now that the grey skies have momentarily dispersed.

We both agreed that we had often longed to walk at least part of the

route to Compostela.

That reminds me, I said.  I once wrote a ballad about Santiago de

Compostela.  I’ll post it on the blog as there has been nothing but

bad news lately and not much to fairly satirise, so I’ll look it out and

give it an airing.

Good idea, replied Clammie.  We haven’t had one of your poems for

a while.

This one is just a lightweight narrative, but it was fun keeping to the

ballad metre.  Here it is:


St James, he was a fisherman,

disciple of Our Lord.

After he’d seen Christ’s Ascension,

he went to spread the Word.

He took the gospel then to Spain

on an ill-starred mission.

Returning to Jerusalem,

he crossed a magician.

Hermogenes was furious

because his acolyte

had been converted to the faith-

he turned on James in spite.

Ordering demons to fetch James,

his will was not observed.

Angels tortured them gleefully:

they’d got what they deserved.

St James and the magician Hermogenes in a showdown

Hermogenes instead was brought

to kneel before the saint,

but H. was afraid the demons

would avenge their complaint,

and take revenge on their master.

James then gave him his staff

as a protection for himself

to ensure the last laugh.

Then evil Herod Agrippa

cut off St James’ head.

Two disciples took his remains

and set off for the Med.

A boat miraculously took

them to the selfsame shore

where James had once been preaching,

not all that long before.

In Iria now called Padron,

a pagan lady there,

Called Lupa, owned the entire port.

She would not heed their prayer.

They asked for land to bury him.

She sent them to the king.

He threw them into prison cells

on the first evening.

But God released them from their plight,

though still under attack.

Armies were sent to bring them in,

but were stopped in their track.

A bridge collapsed and killed them.

The fugitives were spared.

Returning to traitorous Lupa,

she asked them how they’d fared.

She commanded them: Fetch oxen,

knowing them to be bulls.

They genuflected over them,

showing they were no fools.

So, tamed by the sign of the Cross

and harnessed to a cart,

St James’ body transported;

the “oxen” played their part.

Then Lupa released her palace;

conversion followed this

and St James’ bones found solace:

the shrine its genesis.

Almanazor the warrior

spared the shrine when he sacked

the town where hermit, Pelago,

told the Bishop a fact

of great significance indeed-

how he had seen some stars

shining over St James’ grave:

a place for peace, not wars.

So King Alfonso II

built a church on the site

and a touch from a pilgrim’s shell

then healed a goitrous knight.

St. James's shell, a symbol of the route, on a...

Thus Campus Stellae did become

The Santiago de

Compostela and its wide fame

went down in history.

To this day penitents still flock,

wearing the pecten shell

in great hope that St James will save

souls from eternal hell.