One night in the year 813 AD at the mouth of a huge gorge in the mysterious Galician countryside, at that time unexplored by mankind, a miraculous burst of powerful starlight appeared near the crossing of the parallel at 42º 54' N and the meridian at 8º 33' W, casting its light on a place that had been forgotten for centuries. The hermit Pelagius, the puzzled witness of this display, ran to the town of Iria Flavia to announce it, and the bishop, Teodomiro, immediately ordered the excavation of the place, bringing joy to Christendom with his finding of the lost tomb of the Apostle Santiago. And this was the origin of the incomparable city of Santiago de Compostela.

Only a few years later, Charlemagne, emperor of the West, had a dream, seeing a shining path of stars above the Milky Way which led to Compostela. The voice of the Apostle entrusted to him the mission of opening up this route for all those Christians who wanted to make a pilgrimage to his tomb. And so was born the Camino de Santiago, one of the most famous pilgrimage routes in the history of humanity.

The Camino of the Apostle James is, probably, the restoration of an ancient route which already ran through these lands as far back as prehistoric times. Less common today than they used to be, pilgrimages are the highest form of travel. Their motivation is always spiritual. For the scholar, they symbolize life, understood as a way of perfection that culminates in death, which is the doorway to a light-filled subsequent rebirth.

Finisterre, the western edge of Europe, the last place where the sun sets every day to be reborn the next, juts out over the sea at the Costa de la Muerte (Coast of Death). The legends, petroglyphs, dolmens and labyrinths left by many cultures are the proof of the spiritual power that has always emanated from Galicia, and which has attracted pilgrims from time immemorial. In that famous year 1492, the Dominican Félix Faber of Ulm published his work on the pilgrimages, dividing the Camino between his city and Santiago into thirty eight stages. At the end of it, he included a thirty ninth stage, which ran from Santiago to Finisterre. And he added: "Beyond Finis Terrae the World ends, and there begin the waters upon which no one should ever venture."

For centuries, thousands of pilgrims from all over Europe set off for Santiago. Along the route arose numberless hermitages, cathedrals, monasteries and hospitals, the product of the artistic energy of the age. At present, with the revitalized tradition of Christian pilgrimage, large groups of new pilgrims follow the sacred route, attracted by this same great artistic splendor which has enhanced the natural power of the Camino and the wonders of its landscapes. Santiago de Compostela, destination of this great adventure and European Vertex of this project, will be, from many points of view, the most important Place in the Soul of the World. Its unexpected discovery during the initial search for the Cube that lies within the Sphere was like a confirmation and provided great stimulus to move ahead with the project, all the more so because we had also once been pilgrims to Compostela.

The powerful earthly energy of the Place and the heavenly marvels which long ago founded the city have suggested the form for its Vertex: the excavation or discovery of a three-sided pyramid carved out of the depths of the Earth. It will be presented in a huge dome shaped cave, illuminated by a round skylight, like so many other temples of humanity's diverse cultures. The size of the Vertex will be amplified by its relationship to the surrounding space, and the basic elements of the sculpture (the Sphere, the Cube and the Pyramid) will be clearly revealed within it. Just as in the ancient origin myth in which the goddess Gaia is made fertile by the Sky, the mysterious light of the stars will penetrate the Earth, and passing through the skylight, will illuminate the Galician Vertex of the Soul of the World.




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©2002, Rafael Trénor