Indulgence for Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela
[Indulgence for Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela].
Universis et singulis praesentes literas inspecturis.
[Santiago de Compostela, ca. 1598]. (BRB1423)
Pilgrimage to a sacred shrine was one of the most important acts of devotion or penance available to medieval Christians, and it continues to be popular among many religious groups. Endorsed in manuscript on January 3, 1598, this unique printed indulgence was granted to a pilgrim to the Cathedral of Santiago (St. James) de Compostela in northwest Spain. The pilgrim, a Flemish painter named Jacobus Caldero, received this remittance of his sins as a reward for his extreme act of penance, walking across northern Spain along the Camino de Santiago in order to visit the cathedral’s shrine dedicated to St. James the Greater, patron saint of Spain. The indulgence was signed by “D. Antonius Rodericus, Cardinalis maior,” who was not a Cardinal of the Roman Church, but the head priest of Santiago de Compostela. In addition to an ornamental border, three woodcuts decorate the indulgence: an image of St. James dressed as a pilgrim (left); an emblem of the pilgrim’s staff, satchel, and canteen (right); and a scallop shell (center), a souvenir of the Spanish coast that became the badge of returning pilgrims. To this day, certificates of completion are made available to pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.