Legends

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Legend has it that when the Apostles divided the known world into missionary zones, the Iberian Peninsula fell to James. There is nothing intrinsically implausible about this. According to ancient local tradition, on 2 January of the year AD 40, the Virgin Mary appeared to St James the Great on the bank of the Ebro River, while he was preaching the Gospel in Spain. Following that apparition, St James returned to Judea, where he was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I in the year 44. The translation of his relics from Judea to Galicia in the northwest of Iberia was effected, in legend, by a series of miraculous happenings. The 12th–century Historia Compostellana commissioned by Bishop Diego Gelmírez provides a summary of the legend of St James as it was believed at Compostela. Two propositions are central to it: first, that St James preached the gospel in Spain as well as in the Holy Land; second, that after his martyrdom at the hands of Herod Agrippa I his disciples carried his body by sea to Spain, where they landed at Padrón on the coast of Galicia, and took it inland for burial at Santiago de Compostela.

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