Celebrating St James, Spain’s Patron Saint

RESTING PLACE: The cathedral at Santiago de Compostela.

RESTING PLACE: The cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. Credit: Wikimedia.

TODAY (July 25) is the day of Spain’s Patron Saint, St James (Santiago Apostol), and many people will be celebrating his life. 

Although he is the country’s patron saint, it is not a national public holiday, although his life is marked with local holidays that can vary from year to year. In 2019 the Feast of St James the Apostle has been declared a holiday in the Basque Country, Cantabria, and Galicia where schools and most businesses are closed. 

Many of the celebrations are focused on the Basque Country and Galicia. These include special church services to honour his life and work. 

Unsurprisingly Santiago de Compostela takes a major place in the celebrations. It is here that the saint is thought to be buried, which is why it is such a big centre for pilgrimages. 

Routes lead to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela from many European countries, including AustriaBelgiumEnglandFranceGermanyItalyLuxembourgthe NetherlandsPortugal and Switzerland. 

Thousands of people walk, cycle or ride a horse along these routes each year. Many people hope to arrive just before Saint James’ Day. 

Events planned for today include exhibitions of art work by artists born or living in or near Santiago de Compostela, theatre productions and street shows, concerts of modern and traditional music, including bagpipe performances and traditional dance events. 

Biblically, St James, son of Zebedee, was an apostle and a brother of John the Apostle. 

He was beheaded in Judea in 44 AD, with many Christians believing his body was taken by sea to Padron in Galicia before he was buried in the region. It is though the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela was built over his final resting place. 

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Written by

Dilip Kuner

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