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The Camino Lebaniego (Lebaniego way)

Cantabria, Lebaniego Way, Santo Toribio de Liébana. ©Gobierno de Cantabria.

The Camino Lebaniego, added to the list of World Heritage sites in July 2015, is a branch of the Camino de la Costa (Coastal Route) that emerged with the aim of taking pilgrims to venerate the relics of Saint Turibius, Bishop of Astorga, and the relics of the Lignum Crucis or True Cross (the largest existing fragment of the cross on which Christ was crucified, as recognised by the Catholic Church) which the saint brought back from Jerusalem. Both objects of veneration were moved during the invasion of the Moors to the monastery dedicated to San Martín de Turieno (now the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana) for their safekeeping. The monastery, built a few kilometres from Potes, is one of the first monasteries in Cantabria for which documentary evidence exists, dating from the 8th century. The relic of the Lignum Crucis was for countless years the reason for large numbers of pilgrims visiting the monastery, drawn by the healing of mental illnesses reported to have taken place there, accounts of which were narrated by successive chroniclers, to the point where the monastery came to be known as ‘Little Jerusalem’.

At the end of the 8th century, the Liébana region was one of the most paradigmatic cultural enclaves in the Kingdom of Asturias, birthplace of Beatus of Liébana, the monk to whom the hymn "O Dei Verbum" is attributed, in which one of the first mentions is made of Saint James as the patron saint of Spain. This outstanding intellectual, who was in close contact with the cultural circles of the Carolingian court, is also the author of the famous Commentary on the Apocalypse, one of the most influential works of medieval Europe. Liébana was also the origin of the monk Sisnandus, who was made Bishop of Iria under King Alfonso III of Asturias in the late 9th century, and who was able to use his position to strengthen the devotion to Saint James.

The Monastery of Santo Toribio is, together with Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela, one of the sites where perpetual indulgences can be gained. Caracava de la Cruz was recently added to this list.

The Lebaniego Jubilee Year is celebrated when the feast of Saint Turibius (16 April) falls on a Sunday. In those years, the Door of Forgiveness is opened to allow entry to pilgrims eager to observe the Jubilee requirements and earn plenary indulgence.