FRANCIS OF ASSISI ICI
When Jerusalem was captured by the Caliph Omar in 638, Christian pilgrims lost their enthusiasm for the long trek to the Holy City.
In fact, Jerusalem’s loss was Spain’s gain as they turned their attention to Santiago de Compostela, and the tomb of the apostle St James the Great, bringer of Christianity to the Iberian Peninsula.
To reach Spain, pilgrims from the North had to pass through France, and from the 11th – 13th centuries ‘staging post’ churches and monasteries developed, pilgrim bridges were built, inns and medical facilities sprung up along the well trodden pilgrim routes, many of which converged in the Roussillon. Today, they would be called service stations!
Saint Francis of Assisi himself stopped several times in Perpignan in the early 11th century.