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Pilgrim badge

  • Pilgrim insignia. Pilgrimage Museum. Santiago de Compostela © Ministerio de Cultura

    Pilgrim insignia. Pilgrimage Museum. Santiago de Compostela © Ministerio de Cultura

     
  

Category

Rites, worship and beliefs

Date

12th century

Original title

Insignia de peregrino
Museum of Santiago and the Pilgrimages
Santiago de Compostela
A Coruña, Galicia

A shell found in on a skeleton in a burial place in a plot that was later occupied by the Cathedral of Santiago. Therefore, it is prior to 1120. It was discovered during the archaeological excavations carried out between 1945 and 1965.

The scallop shell is the typical symbol of pilgrims that come to Santiago. Pilgrims that completed the journey used to received one to certify their pilgrimage, and it became a guarantee to get benefits and privileges.
The holes in this item near the vertex confirm that it was used as a badge, and that the person buried in the grave was a pilgrim. In fact, pilgrims used to hang a scallop shell round their neck or fix it onto their clothes, mainly onto the cloak or hat, as a symbol of having reached the end of the earth. The scallop shell became a universal symbol at the end of the Middle Ages, and a generic feature of Christian pilgrims.
 

Details of the work

Dimensions
Height = 2,60 cm; Width = 10 cm; Length = 9,30 cm

  

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