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• Santiago de Compostela
July 25 is the feast day of Santiago de Compostela, known in English as St. James the Greater, and St. Jacobi the Apostle in the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches. However, this article mostly discusses the Spanish form of the saint. The Order of St. James of the Sword was formed to protect pilgrims traveling out to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain and was probably inspired by the success of King Jaime of Spain, during the Reconquista. King Jaime was a great hero to Christians and was known as the Killer of Moors, but needless to say he wasn’t so popular with the Moslems in Spain.
The major cult site is at Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain and many churches in European countries and elsewhere are dedicated to St. James. He is the patron saint of cities like San Diego, US, and Santiago, Chile.
Because Santiago de Compostela is a major pilgrimage destination site, he is associated with pilgrims to such a degree that a scallop shell (his symbol) is often seen as a symbol of pilgrimage. As the patron saint of pilgrims, he was also a patron saint of sailors (though that may have been his earliest domain).
Music for the Feast Day of Santiago de Compostela
Some of the music from the Mass of St. James is recorded on The Miracles of Sant’Iago CD, performed by Anonymous 4. Most of the music in this CD is from the Liber Sancti Jacobi, also called the Codex Calixtinus or Jacobus, now in the Cathedral at Santiago. This includes a mass for St. James, attributed to Pope Calixtus in the Middle Ages, who was supposed to have been pope from 217-222 CE. Other music that appears on the CD is attributed to other 12th century French authors. The book has other material about St. James, including his miracles and life, and was actually produced in Cluny about 1150 CE, though some of the music is older. A processional Salve Festa Dies, and a conductus In Hac Die Laudes are among musical pieces that are most especially appropriate to be sung on a feast day for St. James. The Alleluia Gratulemur et Letemur is especially notable for the insertion of Greek, Hebrew and Galician words into the text and so is specific to Santiago de Compostela. The music on this CD can be considered a work of scholarship, as is the study that went into producing it, although the singers being artists have brought some of their own artistic sensibility to the performance. This is fabulous music, and you can hear parts of it on their website.
There are also many songs for the pilgrims to sing on the road to the shrine, however the ones that I have seen so far (especially the Cantigas de Santa Maria) have words that are so cruel and immoral that no one would sing them who knew what they meant.
“La Pernetta” is a pilgrim song for Santiago de Compostela on the Songs of the Pilgrims and Palmers CD. These songs date back to the 15th century, and are sung by the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos.
One very beautiful modernized version of a pilgrim song is “Santiago” arranged by Loreena McKennitt and available on the Mask and the Mirror CD.
Relationship to the Proto-Indo-European God Yama
Around the Mediterranean, St. James is very much the patron saint of sailors and pilgrims. If you do wish to celebrate St. James’ Day, you might want to include Jambalaya or one of the related traditional foods, which are made of a melange of seafood and served with rice.
This page was published at pierce.yolasite.com/santiago but Yola was hacked in Nov. 2011 so it has been migrated here.
© 2007, last updated 7/26/2015, at piereligion.org/santiago.html