Finisterre Camino History
From the 12th century, the Codex Calixtinus associated these lands with the pilgrimage tradition. This medieval Camino ‘guidebook’ tells the story of how the disciples of Saint James travelled to the city of Dugium, in present-day Fisterra, seeking authorisation from a Roman legion to bury the apostle at the site where Compostela stands today. The Romans, suspicious of their motives, threw them into prison. However, they eventually managed to escape, and just as the Roman troops were about to catch up with them, they scurried over a bridge that collapsed just as the Romans were attempting to cross in pursuit.
According to medieval tradition, the Virgin Mary came to this beautiful spot in a ‘stone boat’ (hence its name ‘Virxe da Barca’, our Lady of the Boat) to support Saint James.
The Fisterra Camino is frequently referred to in odeporic literature. The oldest story is that of George Grissaphan, a Magyar knight from the 14th century. The story recounts his adventures as a pilgrim and hermit in Fisterra. In the late 15th century, Polish pilgrim Nicholas von Popplau, journeyed to Muxía after having visited Compostela. He described the remains of the “wrecked ship, made of genuine stone” belonging to the Virgin Mary.
On his pilgrimage from Italy, the Venetian traveller Bartolomeo Fontana (16th century), visited Fisterra and reported that those who were free of mortal sin could move the stones of the ship of Muxía with just one finger. Domenico Laffi (17th century) the clergyman and scholar from Bologna, journeyed to Fisterra as well. He wrote of the lighthouse guiding the sailors to safety through the turbulent waters in the area. Many of these stories mention the Mount of Saint William, who was a legendary hermit in the area. This hermitage, no longer standing, was associated with fertility rites.
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