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St. James the Greater
(Santiago de Compostela)

James, son of Zebedee, was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles, given the mission to proclaim the good news, and authority to heal and cast out demons.

But even among the apostles he held a special place. When Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, he wanted James, John, and Peter to go with him. And it was there on the mountain they were privileged to witness what no one else had seen -- Jesus transfigured in his glory, speaking to Moses and Elijah, as the voice of God spoke from a cloud.  It was James, Peter, and John that Jesus chose to join him in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane for his final prayer before his arrest.

After spreading the Good News in Spain for many years,   James returned to Jerusalem where Herod decapitated him in 44 AD. Because he was not allowed to be buried, after he was martyred, all the remains of St James the Great were taken to Compostela in Spain, by his followers. After the Moors conquered the Iberian peninsula, James' grave was forgotten, until the ninth century.   It was Charles The Great who conquered the grave of the “unbeliever” and demanded large pilgrimages to Compostela.

The name "James" in English comes from "Iacobus" (Jacob) in Latin, which became "Iago" in western Spain. "Saint James" ("Sanctus Jacobus") became "Sant' Iago", which was abbreviated to Santiago.

Since approximately 1100, Santiago de Compostela is the most frequently visited place of pilgrimage following Rome and Jerusalem.  Pilgrims from all over Europe have been going there for centuries.


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St. James's emblem was the scallop shell (or "cockle shell"), and pilgrims to his shrine in Compostela often wore that symbol on their hats or clothes.   In this beautiful hinged sterling medal, the figural image of St. James stands inside a scallop shell!    This beads of this novena chaplet are 12mm handmade lampwork, swirling with reds (for his martyrdom) and shell colors.


Prayers

For Courage
O glorious Apostle, Saint James,
who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart was chosen by Jesus
to be witness of His glory on Mount Tabor, and of His agony in Gethsemane;
thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory:
obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life,
that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus,
we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor's crown in heaven.
Amen.

On Self-Centeredness
O Gentle Jesus, Saint James was one of Your first apostles, but he started out as an impulsive, self-centered man. He dared to ask You for a place of honor in Your kingdom, and he wanted You to destroy the villages that had rejected You, but eventually he developed a true understanding of holiness.
I ask him to pray that my humility grows stronger than my pride, that I submit my will to Your will, and that when I speak, my words reveal Your gentleness and love. Restrain me when I want to rush ahead, and give me a broader perspective when I'm seeing things through a narrow, limited view.
Saint James, pray for me. Amen.

Daily Prayers ~ WordBytes


History/Background

The name "James" in English comes from "Iacobus" (Jacob) in Latin. In eastern Spain, Jacobus became "Jacome" or "Jaime"; in western Spain it became "Iago". "Saint James" ("Sanctus Jacobus") became "Sant' Iago", which was abbreviated to Santiago. This has sometimes been confused with San Diego, which is the Spanish name of Saint Didacus of Alcalá.

James's emblem was the scallop shell (or "cockle shell"), and pilgrims to his shrine often wore that symbol on their hats or clothes. The French word for a scallop is coquille St. Jacques, which means "cockle (or mollusk) of St. James", and that term also refers to a method of cooking and serving them, on a shell (real or ceramic) in a creamy wine sauce. The German word for a scallop is Jakobsmuschel, which means "mussel (or clam) of St. James".

~ Wikipedia


St. James Greater

For James there was no indication that this was the day that his life would change. The dawn for him was not the bright beginning of a new day, but the end of long fruitless night of fishing. As James sat mending his nets in the boat with his brother John and his father Zebedee, he must have watched in wonder as his partner Simon brought in nets loaded with fish he had caught at the command of Jesus. Was he shocked when he saw Simon and his brother Andrew walk away from this incredible catch at a word from this same Jesus?

As he watched Jesus walk toward him followed by Simon and Andrew, did he feel curiosity, fear, hope, envy?  Jesus didn't pass him by but, stopping by their boat, called James and his brother John to do just what Simon and Andrew had done. Without argument or discussion, James and John left their boat and even their father behind, and followed Jesus.

The first thing James saw after he followed Jesus was his teaching with authority in the synagogue and the cure of Simon's mother-in-law.

We all know that Jesus was the focus of James' life from then on, but it is also evident that James held a special place in Jesus' life.

He was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles, given the mission to proclaim the good news, and authority to heal and cast out demons. To be named one of the twelve James must have had faith and commitment.

But even among the apostles he held a special place. When Jesus raised Jairus' daughter when all thought her dead, he only allowed James, John, and Peter to come with him. Even more important when he went up to the mountain to pray, he wanted James, John, and Peter to go with him. And it was there on the mountain they were privileged to witness what no one else had seen -- Jesus transfigured in his glory, speaking to Moses and Elijah, as the voice of God spoke from a cloud.

And with Simon Peter, James and John were the only ones of the apostles that Jesus gave a special name: Sons of Thunder.

To be singled out in these ways, James must have been a close and respected friend of Jesus.

It's no wonder then that James, along with John, felt that he had the right to go to Jesus and ask him to give them whatever they asked. As a mark of his love, Jesus didn't rebuke them but asked them what they wanted. They showed their lack of understanding of his mission when the asked that he let one of them sit on his right and the other on his left when he came into his glory. He replied that they didn't know what they were asking. They didn't see the cross in his future, but an earthly throne. Could they drink of the cup he would drink of? They replied that they could. He assured them they would indeed drink of that cup.

(Matthew has their mother asking for this favor for her sons. Despite the bad reputation their mother got for this, it should be remembered that she too had followed Jesus in his travels, providing for him, and was one of the women who stayed with Jesus as he was crucified when the apostles, including her son James, had fled.)

The other apostles were furious at this request. But Jesus used this opportunity to teach all of them that in order to be great one must be a servant.

James and John did show further lack of understanding of their friend and Lord when he was turned away by Samaritans. They wanted to use their newfound authority as apostles not to heal but to bring fire down on the town. (Perhaps Jesus gave them their Sons of Thunder nickname because of their passion, their own fire, or their temper.) Jesus did reprimand them for their unforgiving, vengeful view of their power.

But despite all these misunderstandings, it was still James, Peter, and John that Jesus chose to join him in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane for his final prayer before his arrest. It must have hurt Jesus that the three of them fell asleep on this agonizing evening.

James did drink of the cup Jesus drank of, all too shortly after the Resurrection. Acts 12:1 tells us that James was one of the first martyrs of the Church. King Herod Agrippa I killed him with a sword in an early persecution of the Church. There is a story that the man who arrested James became a convert after hearing James speak at his trial and was executed with him.

James is called James the Greater because another younger apostle was named James. He should not be accused with this James, or the James who is a relative of Jesus, or the James who was an elder of the Church in Jerusalem and heard Peter's defense of baptizing Gentiles.  James, son of Thunder, was dead by then.

Legends have sprung up that James evangelized Spain before he died but these stories have no basis in historical fact.

James is the patron saint of hatmakers, rheumatoid sufferers, and laborers.  His feast day is July 25th.

~ Catholic Online


Santiago de Compostela, the Pilgrimmage

James the Greater was one of Jesus’ closed friends, as were Peter and Johan. Son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of Saint John the Apostle, and may have been Jesus' cousin. He is called "the Greater" simply because he became an Apostle before Saint James the Lesser. Following Good Friday, The Resurrection, Ascension of Jesus into Heaven and that wonderful decent of The Holy Spirit at Pentecost, James commences his own ministry. He spread his gospel over Israel and then soon after over the Roman kingdom. Then he travelled to Iberian Peninsula and arrived about 40 years after Christ in the village of Zaragossa in Northeast Spain. Nine others accompanied him on this journey. The name "St. James" is “Sant Iago” in Spanish. The country of his choice was not very enthusiastic reacting to the good news. This caused him to be very sad. One day while he was at prayer The Blessed Virgin appeared to him. Giving him a small wooden statue of Herself and a pillar (Jasper). She told him build a church in Her honor with the statue and pillar standing on the altar forming the name of this temple: “Our Blessed Lady of the pillar”.

James built the chapel on that spot to the honor of The Blessed Virgin and placed the statue on the pillar. Some time later,  James returned to Jerusalem where Herod decapitated him in 44 AD. Because he was not allowed to be buried, after he was martyred, all the remains of St James the Great were taken to Compostela in Spain, by his followers. There they found a suitable burial ground. Centuries later the Moors forced their way into Ibiza and took over the entire peninsula, in 711. Nobody thought about St James’ remains, or his grave. It was not until the ninth century that rumour was spread that the grave of St James the apostle was in Northern Spain. It was Charles The Great who conquered the grave of the “unbeliever” and demanded large pilgrimages to Compostela. A chapel was built above James remains. Soon after this chapel becomes to small and a new and much larger Church was built. This Church was consecrated in 889. This church remained standing for approximately a century until 997 when Moors burnt de church down. St James’ tomb had become the centre of the small town, Santiago de Compostela. Flavia, the Bishop of Iria took up his holiday residence there, much to the good of Compostela. It was time to build a new Cathedral, this Cathedral still stands. The Cathedral of Santiago. This was finally blessed in 1211.

Since, approximately 1100, Santiago de Compostela is the most frequently visited place of pilgrimage following Rome and Jerusalem. During the reformation in the 16th century interest diminished until Pope Leo declared it a shrine, which it still is today. Pilgrims from all over Europe have been going there for centuries. Often they take months to arrive, driven by the primitive desire to see what is beyond the horizon, are they the forerunners of the these days long-distance walkers and cyclists. It takes five weeks or even three months to get there walking 30 kilometres a day. They sleep at night in dormitories where fifty men and women lay snoring. They awake and start walking at 6 a.m. with backpacks on. The 4-Days Walk, done in Nijmegen (Holland) every year, is child’s play compared to this, walking this pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. More and more Dutch men and women take part in this long walk. 2004 is a "Holy Year" as the name day of St. James falls on a Sunday. 300.000 Pilgrims are expected in Santiago de Compostela, from the entire world this day. Real pilgrim leave for their destination from their own home, village or town, but many going to Santiago de Compostela commence their long walk from either Vezelay (1600 kilometres) or from St. Jean Pied-du-Port (780 kilometres) from their target.


Cathedral:
The main entrance is found on the Plaza del Orbradoiro and is reached via the monumental stairway. Saint James is to be found in the centre with his hand resting on a walking stick. The central pillar of the door is known as: "The Pilgrims pillar" because every pilgrim who enters lays their hand here, as is to say: “I have got here safely”. Above the main altar, in the far off eastern corner of the building, you see a statue of St James.
The apostles’ grave is to be found in the crypt behind the main altar. The pilgrim has completed his journey upon kissing the hem of the jewelled cloak that drapes the statue. There is a museum displaying the rest of the Cathedral's treasures.

~ MaryPages





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