Don't Believe Everything They Tell You
Two timelines - the first year of the 21st century, and 1000 years before - a woman finds herself torn between her love, her research, and a powerful bishop's obsessions.
Felix and Laura return to Santiago. Laura has a thesis to write and what place could be more atmospheric than the University of Santiago? The couple, who met while walking the Camino de Santiago, are deeply in love and should be blissfully happy. But as the Galician winter draws in, Laura begins to encounter strange visions in the streets of the old city. Voices tell her she should beware, but of what, and whom? Confused and frightened, Laura becomes aware that she is pushing away the very love that she had once welcomed. Felix hits the Camino once more leaving Laura to enter the past, alone.
Against the backdrop of medieval Compostela, Diego Gelmirez propels himself to prominence as the first archbishop of a growing diocese. Ambitious, shrewd and ruthless, Diego will go to any lengths to protect his cathedral, even to the point of challenging a queen.
In 2010, more than one quarter of a million pilgrims from all around the world are expected to make the pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. James.
But how true is the Legend of Santiago? Who had the most to gain by promoting it?
And who still does...?
Follow Tracy Saunders' research as she explores the making of a mythology.
A Novel of the Camino
Outside the wind was tearing the wooden panels off the stable compound and the men were frantically trying to herd the horses into the stone corral. But inside the great hall, despite the smoke and the usual stench, we were cosy in our corner. A lute player tuned his strings under a rattling window shutter. A lamp flickered above, dancing in the semi-darkness as we huddled together for warmth. Under cover of the horse blanket we had spread on our knees, she had put her tiny hands in mine to take away the bone-freezing chill, and was leaning on my crippled shoulder, the one she had never mentioned.
“If St. James isn’t buried in the cathedral, then who is?” she asked me.
“Well, nobody really knows, but, but…,” She had sighed disappointedly. “There are many who believe that the remains there are of a powerful bishop who, 700 years ago now, was followed and loved by all the people of Galicia ! Yes, it is true. He was so powerful that the Romans had to put a stop to his teaching and so they called a synod…”
“What’s a Sin Odd?”
“Just wait, and I’ll tell you. A synod is meeting of bishops and archbishops and important men of the church. They met together and they told Priscillian that he had to stop, and do you know what he said?”
A shake of the head.
“He said that the meeting was not fair nor just, that they had not invited anyone who was sympathetic to him and the other bishops who were on his side, and then, he went to Rome. To see the Emperor. Just like that!”
Her eyes had grown as round as the winter moon, and as bright.
“But that was his big mistake, you see Lupa, because the new emperor of Rome couldn’t have cared less about matters of the church or the squabbles of bishops. But he did need money, lots of money, and Priscillian and his followers had that even though they led poor lives. They put Priscillian in prison and then tortured him to make him say…well, anything they wanted him to say. Then they led him to the scaffold and…and … cut his head off!”
At the last words, I made a gesture towards her which sent her scurrying under the blanket.
Eventually she poked a little pink nose out: a mouse’s nose.
“Is that the end of the story, then?” she asked.
“Well, it would have been, but three years later, some of his followers went to the execution place and brought his body back. To Galicia. By sea, and they landed in Iria Flavia…”
“Where Grandpapa Fróila’s other castle is?”
“The same, and they carried his body on a cart drawn by oxen...”
“Very big oxen, until they came to the right place to stop. That was on top of a hill surrounded by oak trees. The owner of the land was a Priscillianist and she said they could have it for nothing. They called it ‘Libredon’, but you know what they call it now?”
“Compostela! Compostela!” She clapped her hands so loudly that several people turned to look at us.
“Shhh,” I warned. “Not so loud. Now, you will remember your promise. This story is a secret between you and me.”
And I know, as I certainly as I know anything, that she has never broken that secret. That oath is the basis of the bond between Lupa and me. The only bond we will ever really be allowed to share.
I shifted so as to look at her, to hold her eyes as tightly as I held her hands.
“Lupa, know that you have promised me never to tell this story to anyone, remember?”
* * * *