Historical tradition attributes the beginning of Christian preaching in Hispania to St. James the Apostle.
This 25 July, as every year, is the commemoration of the Day of St. James the Apostle. Although it is a religious celebration, in Spain it takes on an intrinsically patriotic character, as St. James is considered the patron saint of this country. This is because, according to medieval tradition, St. James the Apostle is credited with preaching in Hispania.
James the Greater: A Leading Figure of the Apostles
James, known as "the elder", is so named to distinguish him from another apostle of the same name. He is also often identified as James of Zebedee, after his father. His brother, St. John the Evangelist, is one of the 12 apostles and author of the fourth Gospel. Originally from Galilee, the brothers were fishermen who became disciples of Jesus.
Both James and John played very important roles among the disciples, attending critical events in the public life of Jesus Christ, as described in the New Testament. These events include the resurrection of Jairus' daughter, the transfiguration and the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.
After the crucifixion, the apostles divided up the world to spread the new faith. According to tradition, James "the elder" was appointed to travel to the "end of the earth" or "finis terre", which at that time was known as Hispania.
As he travelled through the Iberian Peninsula, legend attributes several miracles to him, such as the appearance of the Virgin on a jasper column in Caesar Augusta (present-day Zaragoza), which gave rise to the veneration of the Virgin of the Pillar.
James subsequently returned to Palestine, where he was beheaded in 44, an event ordered by Herod Agrippa II in an attempt to curb the exponential growth of Christianity. After his martyrdom, his followers are said to have carried his body back to Spain, guided by an angel to the shores of Galicia.
The Legacy of Santiago and its Recognition in the Reconquest
In the 9th century, the kings of Asturias promoted the miracle of the reappearance of the tomb of the apostle, marked by the sparkle of a star (origin of the name Compostela, Field of the Star).
The figure of Santiago was used to legitimise the aspirations to rebuild the former Visigothic kingdom. Santiago is attributed with appearances during the Reconquest, always mounted on a white horse and wielding a sword, which gave rise to the name "Santiago Matamoros" (Saint James the Moorslayer).
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela was built on his tomb, the arrival point of one of the most popular pilgrimage routes in the world, the Camino de Santiago. These elements consolidate Santiago as the patron saint of Spain and, possibly, as an emblem of Hispanic culture in general, given that his legacy is celebrated in various Latin American countries such as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Panama, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Cuba, among others.
The True Story of St. James the Apostle
Although there are numerous legends and traditions surrounding Saint James the Apostle, knowing his real history is crucial to understanding his influence on Christianity. To learn more about the true story of St. James the ApostleWe recommend this source which offers an authentic and detailed insight into the life and legacy of this apostle.
How much does it cost to do the Camino de Santiago?
If you are planning to walk the Camino de Santiago, it is essential that you are aware of the costs associated with this spiritual journey. Costs can vary depending on a number of factors. For a detailed breakdown, please refer to the following article How much does it cost to walk the Camino de Santiago? which will provide you with a complete overview of the budget required.
The Weather in Santiago de Compostela
Planning your trip to the Camino de Santiago also involves understanding the climate of the region. The weather in Santiago de Compostela can vary considerably throughout the year. For up to date and detailed information on weather conditions, we recommend you consult The Weather in Santiago de Compostela. This information will enable you to prepare adequately for your pilgrimage.