Three weeks in Galicia: a team from the College of William & Mary’s Institute for Pilgrimage Studies in Virginia (EE UU)

20/06/2013 0:25

In late May and early June of 2013 a team of nine faculty and undergraduates from the College of William & Mary’s Institute for Pilgrimage Studies in Virginia spent three weeks in Galicia as both true pilgrims and field researchers.  They walked the traditional Camino inglés from Ferrol and each earned their Latincompostela. They also undertook nine distinct and highly original projects that were finetuned to the history and living culture of pil­grim­age on the historic Camino de Santiago.  Aided and facilitated by local authorities such as D. Segundo Pérez López, D. Elisardo Temperán, José Suárez Otero, Bieito Pérez Outeriño, Xosé M. Sánchez Sánchez, Rosa Vázquez Santos and others, these nine Americans made the ancient and modern trails of Galicia their laboratory for novel areas of inquiry.

Prof. Kathleen Jenkins

Jenkins, Chair of the Dept. of Sociology at the College of William & Mary, is a specialist in the dynamics of both families and religious communities. She spent count­less hours inter­viewing arriving pilgrims who are not just the “fictive kin” of the trail – many travelers become members of a sort of extended family during their trek – but actual adult children who accom­pany their parents on pilgrimage to Santiago. How might their pilgrimage be shaped by cultural expectations of caretaking, communication, and relationship building? As they arrive at their destination, how might both generations find themselves uniquely positioned to stamp meaning on fresh memories and construct a narrative that may impact a lifelong relationship?

Prof. George Greenia

Greenia is the founder of the William & Mary Institute for Pilgrimage Studies and a specialist in medieval Iberian language and literature.  At the personal invitation of D. Elisardo Temperán, Greenia and Burton Westermeier, an undergraduate double major in religious studies and medieval history from the Univ. of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, have carried out the first transcription of the complete papal bull “Deus Omnipotens” now with an English translation.  Threatened by possible theft or destruction by English raiders in the sixteenth century, the relics of the Apostle were concealed by their guardians in Compostela – and then lost for over 300 years.  The bull issued in 1884 placed Rome’s formal stamp of approval on the recovered remains and declared them worthy of renewed veneration and pilgrimage.  The bull, whose unique copy is held in the cathedral archives, is notable for its enthusiastic recounting of the history of the relics of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela. It is also significant for providing insight into the broader 19th century trend of rediscovering the relics of saints, including those of Saint Francis, Saint Claire, and Saint Ambrose.

Prof. M. Brennan Harris

For the modern walker, the Camino de Santiago offers a curious combination of relatively mild but exceptionally prolonged exertion.  What are the true energy costs made on a normal body made to walk 20+ kilometers/day and carrying an unaccustomed weight?  What about the physiological demands of 12 hours or more of solar exposure at altitudes averaging hundreds meters?  The nutritional requirements of this much sustained exercise on populations of “a certain age” and the metabolic processes that adapt to sustain the march toward Compostela?  An internationally recognized expert in cardiac research, Prof. Harris has guided previous students on the Camino in scientific protocols that have produced published results that are making entirely fresh contributions to our understanding of the human body in motion.

Cristina Stancioiu

Long interested in Byzantine icons and western relics as sites for gendered performance, Profa. Stancioiu will examine sacred remains beyond those of St. James himself.  The discovery of the bones of the Apostle fueled a thousand years of pilgrimage and enormous construction projects, but the Cathedral of Santiago shelters a vast accumulation of additional saintly remains. Researchers need to understand which saints held special importance to women vs. men and how each gender rendered particular homage to their preferred holy intercessors.

Benjamin Boone

As a doctoral candidate in higher education administration at the College of William & Mary, Boone studies the dynamics of faculty who mentor original student research as part of a study abroad program.  Most study in foreign countries presumes a focus on language instruction, home stays with local families, and instruction by native faculty.  True disciplinary research is unusual, especially when guided on-site by professors from students’ home institutions.  Boone is investigating the challenges and rewards for researchers who make the foreign experience a laboratory for their closest student partners.

Claire Glisson

Working from the convergence of the star of Bethlehem and the iconic star that denotes the forgotten tomb of St. James in Galicia, undergraduate Glisson links the journey of the pilgrim Magi come to adore the baby Jesus in his birth and transformation.  The cruceiros which mark the diverse caminos toward Compostela especially in Galicia are the most public art of the Camino ingles.  Arguably they facilitate spiritual transformation by providing resting places that invite pilgrims to gather spiritual refreshment and lend themselves to a rebirth and transformation of their own.

Evan Fulton

The Galician language, a source of pride and identity, urges a linguistic journey along the conceptual lines of the Turners.  Departing from the normative Castilian which surrounds native gallegos, they undergo cognitive shifts through linguistic elisions of preparation, separation, liminality & (re)incorporation.  College undergraduate Fulton is trained in both linguistics and Hispanic Studies and is well equipped to examine the external hierarchical relationship among regional and national language forms.  These push elites to abandon their vernacular, especially in the presence of foreign pilgrims who are insulated from the tensions between language communities around them even as these outsiders seek an authentic experience of the lands they visit.

Erin Gregory

The “Gates of Paradise” baptistery doors in Florence designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) are a masterpiece of cast bronze reliefs.  A similar triumph was achieved over a century later by Juan Bautista Celma (1535-1608) for the pulpits of the Cathedral sanctuary.  Begun in 1578, the Aragonese Celma may have taken inspiration from the small bronzes and artists’ model books which travel throughout the Mediterranean in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially given the historic ties between the Kingdom of Aragón and its possessions in Italy.  Undergraduate student Gregory is conducting field work in both Santiago and Florence this summer.

Burton Westermeier

The popularly name of the “English Route” obscures the fact that its trails to Santiago were also the preferred paths for pilgrims from Nordic lands, the Low Countries and Ireland.  The Irish in particular departed from the ports of Dingle, Galway and Dublin, sometimes sharing passage with their English counterparts after intermediate stops on the southern British coasts from the twelfth century through the end of fifteenth, the golden age of the English Route before the Reformation and hardening of national borders depressed all pilgrimage travel to Santiago.  Westermeier, an undergraduate double major in religious studies and medieval history from the Univ. of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, documents the distinctive Irish presence teased out from the blanket presumptions of so-called English Route.


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