Polish Pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostella: Way of St. James in Poland
Przybylska, Lucyna (University of Gdańsk, Department of Regional Development Geography)
GeoJournal of Tourism and Geosites, Year III, no. 2, vol. 6, November (2010)
In October of 2009, the total length of the modern Polish Ways of St. James added up to 2,016 km (13 different sections). The main objective of this paper is to assess the pilgrimage turnout of Poles from a historical perspective as well as to show the current state of the phenomenon of recreating pilgrimage routes within the framework of the old Christian tradition of walking from one’s home to the grave of St. James the Apostle in Spanish Santiago de Compostela.
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, with the grave of St. James the Apostle, has been attracting pilgrims from across Europe for centuries. From the moment of the discovery of the grave of St. James the Apostle in the 9th century, the Shrine developed rapidly in the 11th and 12th centuries. At this time, aside from Rome, the Shrine of St. James became a key pilgrimage center in Europe. According to 12th century Canon Law, pilgrimages to Christ’s grave in Jerusalem, graves of the apostles Peter and Paul in Rome, and the grave of St. James the Apostle, came to be called peregrinationes maiores or “major pilgrimages” (Manikowska, 2008). By designating such pilgrimages as “major pilgrimages,” the pilgrimage destinations were assigned the highest possible rank in the hierarchy of pilgrimage destinations at the time.