by David Sheffler


ight ruled the medieval sensorium. It was the most intellectual, operated at the greatest distance, and, according to Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), provided the ability “to distinguish between the good and the inferior through knowledge and discernment.” (Jütte, 65) Stories of St. James’s miracles often focus on his radiant appearance and military bearing. A certain holy man, Stephen, who had given up the bishop’s miter to live in a hermit’s cell in Santiago, described St. James, “adorned in the whitest clothing, bearing military arms surpassing the rays of Titan.” (Coffey, 90) The twelfth-century author of the Codex Calixtinus breathlessly describes the sculptures “of marvelous workmanship” adorning the west portal of the cathedral in Santiago. “There,” the author continues, “the Lord appears in a dazzling cloud, his face shining as the sun, his garments sparkling as snow.” (Melczer, 124) Tourists and pilgrims still crowd around the ornately decorated portals, although many reserve their most rapturous commentary for the breathtaking Spanish countryside or the rocky shores of the Coast of Death (Costa de la Muerte), “when I saw the water for the first time my heart opened … that for me was arriving.” (Kim Anja, Student Interview)


Continue reading  about the five senses …

SIGHT    |    HEARING    |    SMELL    |    TASTE    |    TOUCH