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Pilgrim badge from the shrine of St James in Santiago de Compost

Pilgrim badge from the shrine of St James in Santiago de Compost
3 0 c m
actual image size: 29cm x 22cm

Full image caption

Pilgrim badge from the shrine of St James in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. This badge is in the form of a scallop shell. In the centre of the shell is a standing figure of St James dressed as a pilgrim with a hat, hooded cloak, satchel and holding a staff.
Santiago de Compostela was the third most important pilgrimage destination after Jerusalem and Rome. It was believed that the body of the apostle St James, who was martyred in AD 42, had been miraculously transported from Jerusalem to Galicia in Spain. By the 11th century his shrine at Compostela was attracting pilgrims from all over Europe. Many Londoners undertook the long and dangerous journey here, visiting a string of European shrines on the way. The badge of St James was the scallop shell, though no one is quite sure why. Pilgrims originally bought actual scallop shells from the shrine and attached them to their bags or wore them round their necks. Soon demand outstripped the supply of real shells so metal versions were sold instead. In the 13th century, there were 100 licensed badge makers in Compostela. Eventually St James came to be known as the patron saint of pilgrimage and the sign of the scallop became the symbol of pilgrimage itself, rather than just the badge of the Compostela shrine. The shrine’s badge makers attempted to show the origin of their shell badges by adding the image of St James.

Image Details

1300 AD - 1400 AD
Image Number

© Museum of London

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