Blog
Home > History of the Camino > Who was Saint James?

Who was Saint James?

Who was Saint James?
10-01-2017

When we talk about the Camino de Santiago, we must talk about Santiago de Compostela, its Cathedral and, of course, Saint James. The history of the discovery of its remains, the construction of a temple in the place that today is occupied by the cathedral and the peregrination of the whole Europe is well known by all, but the history of the Apostle is lost between documentation and mysticism, making quite difficult to know who James the Apostle was. Today we talk about that and about the history of the patron of Spain.

Saint James according to the Bible

James, who appears in the Bible as Jacobus, was the son of Zebedee, a Jewish preacher of the 1st century, and Salome, a woman identified as the sister of Mary, making the apostol a direct cousin of Jesus. According to the Gospel, he was, along with his brother John, one of the first apostles chosen by Jesus when they were fishing on the coasts of Galilee. Starting there, he became one of the closest apostles to Jesus along his life, being present in many of the miracles that his teacher made along his life.Santiago Apostol

His evangelization

After Pentecost (about 33 AD) Santiago is sent to preach to Hispania, present territories of Spain and Portugal, where arrives from Jerusalem in an uncontested way: some indicate that he crosses the Columns of Hercules Gibraltar), bordering the Portuguese coasts and finally arriving to Gallaecia (Galicia); others establish the origin of his journey in Terraco (present Tarragona) and his later crossing along the Ebro valley and the Cantabrian Mountain range to finish arriving at what is now La Coruña, while finally the third version says that Its arrival is actually to Carthago Nova (Cartagena), heading north from there.

Whatever the journey was, tradition indicates that the apostle was making some disciples throughout his journey and preached the gospel with little acceptance. Being in Caesaraugusta (Zaragoza), and being decayed by the little success of his mission, the apostle decides to pray, along with his disciples, at the banks of the Ebro. This is when, according to the testaments, the Virgin Mary " appears "in mortal flesh" (Before his assumption) to ask him to build a church in her name, leaving a jasper pillar as proof of her visit. This will not only be the first church dedicated in honor of the Virgin, but it was its first appearance, which reinforces still more the importance of Saint James within the Christianity.

After this apparition, James and his disciples, who have also witnessed the apparition, built a first adobe church in the place that today occupies the Basilica del Pilar.

 

Death and return to Galicia

After her visit, Santiago decides to return to Jerusalem to see Maria before dying. There he is captured, tortured and executed during the religious persecution initiated by King Herod Agrippa. In this way, James the Apostle is the first of the apostles to be martyred. This is de only martyrdom recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.

Once executed the king forbbid to bury him, but his disciples take advantage of the darkness of the night to transfer the body of the apostle in a boat to Galicia; they deposited the body in a rock that yielded until becoming what today is known like the Sarcófago Santo.

The disciples went to the lands dominated by Lupa, a pagan queen, to ask for a place to bury Santiago. The queen accused them of sinning of pride and sent them to the court of Dayos, a neighboring king of Lupa and an enemy of the Christians, who ended up enclosing the disciples of the apostle.

According to the Christian tradition a series of miracles allowed the disciples to escape: first the appearance of an angel who freed them, then the death of the soldiers who persecuted them and by the last the taming of wild bulls that Lupa had given them to Carry the body of the apostle instead of oxen. It was after seeing all this that the pagan queen is converted to Christianity, orders to destroy all places of Celtic worship and decides to bury the apostle in what was his personal palace. It is in that place where today stands the Cathedral of Santiago.

From there the history is better known: the prohibition and persecution of Christianity makes forget the place until it is discovered in the 9th century by the hermit Pelayo and the Bishop Teodomiro, giving rise to the beginning of the Camino de Santiago. But there is still another side of Saint James to see.
 

Saint James as patron of Spain

Santiago ApostolAware of the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle, King Astur Alfonso II embarks in a  journey to the place, understanding that this finding would be a decisive factor for the agglutination of the Christian territories of the peninsula against the invasion of Islam. From there, the image of the apostle will gain more and more strength in the struggle against this invasion as Santiago Matamoros, the warrior apostle. He was awarded several appearances riding a white horse and brandishing his sword, as that one in which appeared to help the army of King Ramiro I to defeat the troops of Abderramán II in the Battle of Clavijo.

These miracles were infusing of value in the soldiers that finally reconquered Spain in 1492, thing that made consider James as the patron of Spain since IX century, situation reconfirmed in 1630 by Pope Urban VIII, who declared him patron of Spain of official form .

 

Thus we see how behind the Camino is a very rich history related to Saint James, a story that is not often known. We hope you find this article interesting. If you liked it, don't hesitate to share it.

Leave a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.

Sending comment, please wait.

The comment has been sent, Thank you!

¡Buen Camino! This is our wish at Correos! – that pilgrims can fully enjoy their Camino and discover new places, histories, people and experiences through our postcards.

Do you want to get our blog via e-mail?
Thanks for subscribing!
The Way with Correos
History of the Camino
Camino Teammates
Culture & Traditions of the Camino
Tips to do the Camino
Places of the Camino
The values of the Camino in 12 months
Foreigners on the Camino
Foreigners on the Camino
Transfer Rucksack

 

We transfer your rucksack

So that you can travel light along the Camino de Santiago

 

We transfer your rucksack or suitcase from your accommodation at one stage to the next!! This way, your walk is more comfortable, your bag is lighter and you can enjoy every step of the Camino. We will take your luggage every day to your next hostel or hotel.

Send Bicycle

 

Bicycle transportation services 

We send your bicycle to your starting or finishing point

 

Decide where you want to start the Camino and we will send your bicycle there from any branch of Correos. Once you finish the Camino de Santiago you can go to the nearest post office and send it back home again. Your bicycle will be insured and we package your bike without disassembling it.

Send luggage to Santiago

 

Luggage transfer

For everything you want in or out of your rucksack 

 

With our Paq Peregrino you can send suitcases or parcels to any point along the Camino (hostels, hotels, branches of Correos, etc) so that you have your personal belongings when you arrive. You can therefore have extra clothes or other items and not only the ones you carry along the Way. You can also send back whatever you have in your daily rucksack that you no longer need.

Prepaid Payment Card

 

Prepaid Card

So that you have nothing to worry about other than just enjoying the Camino 

 

Correos offers a prepaid card that is not linked to a bank account. In this way, you can defort walk the Camino without taking your credit or debit cards with you. You only have to put the money on the card that you are going to need and then top up again if your balance is low. This is a simple, safe and comfortable way of taking your money along the Camino.

 

Pilgrimage Stamps

 

Stamping Your Credential

So that you have the best stamps on your Pilgrim's Passport 

Branches of Correos along the Camino de Santiago stamp your Credential or Pilgrim's Passport with our special stamps. Many of these stamps represent important tourist attractions from that particular place to help you remember your jorney.

 

Send Parcels

 

Sending parcels along the Camino de Santiago 
 

Send your parcels without having to go along to a branch of Correos!

 

You can send a parcel from any of the over one-hundred branches of CORREOS located along the Camino de Santiago and additionally from some of our “Tiendas Amigas del Camino”, a network of shops and accommodation from where you can send parcels any time of the day. This service will help you to get rid of things from your luggage that you no longer need. You can also buy souvenirs or some typical products without having to worry about carrying them with you. 
 

 

Luggage Storage

 

Lockers in Santiago

So that you can freely visit the Cathedral or enjoy the city

Our Pilgrim's Office at Rúa do Franco, 150 metres from the Plaza del Obradoiro, has lockers. You can leave your rucksack, suitcase, bike or trekking pole before you go into the Cathedral or you can wander around Santiago without having to worry about your luggage.

Correos Offices

 

Correos Branches

To help you with anything you may need 

 

We have over 150 branches of Correos along all the Caminos. We will be delighted to welcome you and help you with anything you need. 

 

 

Collaborators