History of the Way of St. James's Pilgrimage
The legend that St. James found his way to the Iberian Peninsula and had preached there is one of a number of early traditions concerning the missionary activities and final resting places of the apostles of Jesus. Although the 1884 Bull of Pope Leo XIII Omnipotens Deus accepted the authenticity of the relics at Compostela, the Vatican remains uncommitted as to whether the relics are those of Saint James the Greater, while continuing to promote the more general benefits of a pilgrimage to the site.
According to a tradition, the relics were said to have been discovered in 814 by Theodoric, bishops of Iria Flavia in the far northwest of the principality of Asturias. Theodoric was guided to the spot by a star, the legend claims, and drawing upon a familiar myth-element, the area was named "Compostela" - a corruption of Campus Stellae, "Plain of Stars."
Following the Camino
The way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) is very clearly marked. A yellow arrow marked on roads, walls or trees and on all significant landmarks is displayed frequently throughout the trail. In addition, this yellow arrow is marked along the famous scallop shell on milestones at each crossroad/junction. These markings, coupled with the walking notes and the maps with which will be provided, make navigation both easy and comfortable. Once you get to your first shell, you cannot get lost!
Most people who walk the way of St. James, even if not religious, carry the "credential del peregrine" (pilgrim's passport). Each tour participant will be given the credential and once you reach Santiago you will obtain the "Compostela Certificate" (proof of having completed the journey) from the "Oficina del Peregrino" in Santiago de Compostela. To receive the credential it must be stamped twice each day (eg, at hotels, churches, etc.) of the walk.