During the early 9th century (the year 813 is the most probable), the bishop of Iria Flavia, Teodomiro, was taken by a hermit called Pelagio to examine the mausoleum, which he recognised as that of the Apostle James; he based his opinion on the oral tradition according to which St. James had preached in Spain’s “finis terrae”, thereafter being martyred on returning to Palestine. His disciples Atanasio and Teodoro brought his decapitated body back; according to legend, they disembarked in Iria Flavia, 20 km away, and took it to Monte Libredón, where they buried it in a stone chest.
The Asturian king Alfonso II travelled from Oviedo with all of his court and recognised the existence of the Apostle James’ tomb. At that very moment, he made James the patron saint of his kingdom, turning the place into a centre of worship capable of uniting Western Christendom against the Moors’ expansion. The city’s foundation dates from the year 830. Santiago’s first church was also built –a simple construction housing the mausoleum from Roman times.