At the end of the road there is someone waiting for you The splendour of hope in the Portico of the Glory
By Félix Carbó, Miguel Angel Blazquez.
With the cooperation of Enrique Bican, Rafael Gonzalez.
The Portico of the Glory on the western facade of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela is an artistic milestone and one of art’s most the most famous masterpieces. The beauty and the mystery of over 200 represented figures have captured pilgrims from all ages, and have become subjects of many studies (artistic, historical, theological, even musical). Today we can approach this original work, so full of enigmas for today’s modern man, in search of an inner meaning. What message did its builders want to transmit to us? To whom was it addressed? What does it have to say to us?
The genius of Maestro Matteo, creator of the work between 1175 and 1188, goes beyond the interpretations which until today have tried to give an explanation to the Portico. The apocalypse is not the only source of interpretation and in fact the central scene of the tympanum does not represent the Final Judgement. Christ The King is not in a judgement position, but is waiting for the pilgrims; it is indeed through the gaze of the Apostle James, set at the feet of the Christ, that the pilgrim is introduced to the figure of Christ, seated on the throne of Glory. Christ, with a serene gaze, loving and full of peace, waits for us at the end of our journey and, welcoming us, fills our heart with hope. Looking at the Portico, through an extraordinary photographic reconstruction prepared on the occasion of the Jubilee Year of St James, the visitor will find himself truly beholding a message of hope for all men, believers and non believers because all are driven by the same desire for happiness.
The Maestro Matteo masterpiece highlights the evident appeal of Christ, which coincides with the appeal which has inspired the creativity of western man right up to the development of Europe. The encyclical Spe Salvi by Benedict XVI provides an insight to the meaning of the Portico of the Glory: “We need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God,. . [..]God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end”. (n.31