Pilgrim Badge: St James of Compostella

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Pilgrim Badge: St James of Compostella


Badge, Compostella, material culture, ‘Mainly Medieval’, medieval pilgrimage, NSW, New South Wales, pilgrim, pilgrimage, replica, reproduction, Saint James, scallop shell, shrine, Spain, St James, symbolism, Way of St James


An advertisement for a scallop shell badge distributed by ‘Mainly Medieval’, an online re-enactor supplies company based in New South Wales. The scallop shell badge signifies that the wearer has completed the lengthy overland pilgrimage known in English as the Way of St James. This pilgrimage, which now starts at Roncesvalles, gradually winds its way to the Cathedral in Compostela, NW Spain. The ninth-century version, however, was considerably shorter due to the Moorish occupation. This early route started at Oviedo, passed through Lugo, and culminated at Santiago de Compostela, covering a distance of 328 km. The church was built at Compostella as a shrine to James, the son of Salome and Zebedee, who died in Jerusalem AD 44 by order of King Agrippa. His body was reputedly rediscovered in 840 by divine revelation to Bishop Theodomirus (See Gertrude Jobes, Dictionary of Mythology Folklore and Symbols, New York, The Scarecrow Press, 1962, vol.2, p.1372). The Vatican ‘officially’ confirmed the location of St James’s relics and tomb via a Papal Bull in 1884, and consequently the Camino de Santiago de Compostela became one of the world’s great long-distance ‘pilgrimages.’


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