I Hugged an Apostle

As I wandered about the interior of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, I noticed a sign saying “Embrace the Apostle.” There was a line of people waiting behind a rope barrier in single file beneath the sign. So I added myself to the back of the queue.

We inched forward, finally reaching the place where you went in to the Apostle’s area. By the way, in terms of Apostles, we are talking about none other than Saint James a/k/a “Santiago”, the first of the apostles to be martyred. His remains seem to have turned up in this area sometime in the ninth century, with the tale of how they got here shrouded in myth, legend, and the slaying of dragons (I kid you not).

There was a stoplight contraption, and when it went green the person at the head of the line went up a short and narrow flight of stairs.

When it was my turn, I went up the stairs, then stood on a small stone step, and following the example of the person ahead of me, put my arm around a wooden paint-and-gilt bust of St James. Unlike the person ahead of me, I didn’t kiss the statue (memories of a certain Isak Dinesen short story came back to me, with the thought that one might catch a disease, otherwise I might just have kissed the old wooden cheek).

So I hugged an apostle! Another first for a memorable Camino…not quite in the same transgressive league as the Katy Perry song, but still something.

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