The Apostle Santiago is popularly known as the patron saint of pilgrims and Spain, his celebration is on July 25th. The apostle James the Greater died in the 44 after Christ and his body was executed with a beheading.
He was one of the disciples named by Jesus as one of the sons of thunder. He was also one of the first Jesus’ disciples to die.
What is a saint or a patron?
A saint or patron is considered to be a person who presents himself as an advocate for a particular group of people. And for this reason, Santiago el Mayor is popularly known as the patron saint of pilgrims and Spain.
The story of the apostle James the Great
James the Greater, as we have already mentioned, he was one of the Jesus’ disciples; his figure was quite illustrious among the 12 apostles of Jesus.
Son of Zebedee, he received the nickname “elder” because he was taller than another apostle named James. Like his brother John, he worked mainly as a fisherman with his father Zebedee and his friend Simon.
John and James decided to leave their lives as fishermen when Jesus contacted them to be part of their group of 12 apostles. They followed Jesus until he was crucified.
James the Greater was chosen by Jesus to be one of the 12 apostles and he was given the primary mission of spreading and promoting the gospel.
James went on pilgrimage throughout the Iberian Peninsula with the main objective of spreading the word of Jesus. When James returned to Judea he was killed by King Herod Agrippa I and thus his death is detailed in the Bible (Act 12).
Where was Santiago’s body buried?
The remains of Santiago el Mayor were transported by all the faithful to the present day Galicia or so the legend goes. And this is why it is rumored that the remains of the apostle James are buried in Santiago de Compostela.
The saint’s body sailed on a rudderless, sailless boat accompanied by his faithful followers surrounding the Iberian Peninsula to Santiago de Compostela. They ended up arriving on the northwest coast and continued on their way across the Ulla River ending their boat trip in Padrón. In 44 A.D. the Celtic queen Lupia was ruling the Galician lands and they did not allow the body of Santiago to be buried in their lands.
To ensure that the body of the Apostle was not buried, troops were sent after the followers of James the Greater. During the persecution a bridge collapsed and all the troops were killed.
After this event, Queen Lupia converted herself into Christianity and she offered a cart and ox so that the followers of James could transport her body. Then the ox was responsible for deciding where to bury the apostle, then the animal decided to rest under an oak tree right on the top of a small mountain.
At the top of this small mountain it was decided to build the popular Cathedral of Santiago, the place where the pilgrims finish their journey along the way.