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The name Santiago, comes from two words Sant Iacob. Because his Hebrew name was Jacob. The Spanish in their battles shouted: "Sant Iacob, help us." And after repeating these two words so much, they joined them into one: James and whoever was one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ.


He was the brother of Saint John the Evangelist. He was called the Elder, to distinguish him from the other apostle, James the Younger, who was younger than him. With his parents Zebedeo and Salomé lived in the city of Bethsaida, next to the Sea of ​​Galilee, where they had a small fishing company. They had workers at their service, and their economic situation was quite good because they could be absent from work for several weeks, as did his brother Juan when he went to stay for a season in the Jordan listening to Juan Bautista.


Santiago was part of the group of the three favorites of Jesus, along with his brother Juan and Simon Pedro. After witnessing the miraculous fishing, hearing Jesus say to them: “From now on you will be fishers of men”, he left his nets and his father and his fishing company and went with Jesus Christ to collaborate with him in his apostolate. He witnessed all the great miracles of Christ, and with Peter and John they were the only ones who were present at the Transfiguration of the Lord and at his Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Why did Jesus prefer it so much? Perhaps because (as Saint John Chrysostom says) he was the most daring and courageous to declare himself a friend and follower of the Redeemer, or because he was going to be the first to shed his blood to proclaim his faith in Jesus Christ. May Jesus also have us in the group of his favorites.


The Gospel tells that once when passing through a town in Samaria, the people did not want to provide them with any food and that James and John asked Jesus to make fire rain from heaven and burn those rude people. Christ had to scold them for that vengeful spirit, and reminded them that He had not come to harm anyone but to save as many people as possible. James was not a saint when he became a disciple of the Lord. Holiness will come to him little by little.


Another day Santiago and Juan commissioned Salomé, their mother, to go and ask Jesus to place them two in the first places on the day of his glory: one on the right and one on the left. Jesus said to them: "Will you be able to drink the cup of bitterness that I am going to drink?" They told him: "Yes we are capable." Christ added: "The cup of bitterness they will drink, but occupying the first positions is not for Me to grant, but those positions are for those for whom my Heavenly Father has reserved them." The other apostles were upset by this vain request of the two sons of Zebedee, but Jesus told them all: “Whoever wants to be first, let himself become the servant of all, in imitation of the Son of man who has not come. to be served but to serve ”. Surely with this lesson from Jesus, James will have learned to be more humble.


After the Ascension of Jesus, Saint James the Greater distinguished himself as one of the main figures among the group of the Apostles. Group of the Apostles.

The tradition of the Virgen del Pilar, as it has emerged from some documents of the thirteenth century that are preserved in the cathedral of Zaragoza, dates back to the time immediately after the Ascension of Jesus Christ, when the apostles preached the Gospel. It is said that Santiago el Mayor had landed on the Peninsula through the port of Cartagena, where he founded the first Spanish diocese, preaching since then in various territories of the country. The documents say verbatim that Santiago “arrived with his new disciples through Galicia and Castile, to Aragon, where the city of Zaragoza is located, on the banks of the Ebro. There Santiago preached for many days and, among the many converts, he chose as companions to eight men, with whom he dealt with the kingdom of God during the day, and at night, he traveled the banks to take some rest ”.


On the night of January 2, 40, Santiago was with his disciples by the Ebro river when “he heard voices of angels singing Ave Maria, Gratia Plena and saw the Virgin Mother of Christ appear, standing on a pillar of marble ” . The Blessed Virgin, who was still living in mortal flesh, asked the Apostle to build a church for her there, with the altar around the pillar where she was standing and promised that “this site will remain until the end of time so that the virtue of God works wonders and wonders through my intercession with those who in their needs implore my patronage ”. The Virgin disappeared and the pillar remained there. The Apostle Santiago and the eight witnesses of the prodigy immediately began to build a church on that site and, before the Church was finished, Santiago ordained one of his disciples to serve as a priest, consecrated it and gave it the title of Santa María del Pilar, before returning to Judea. This was the first church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.


Together with when Santiago had returned to Jerusalem, King Herod Agrippa set out to destroy the followers of Christ, the first thing he did was to have Santiago's head cut off and Peter imprisoned. Thus the son of Zebedee had the honor of being the first of the apostles to shed his blood for proclaiming the religion of the Risen Jesus.


Around the year 813 , in the time of the King of Asturias Alfonso II the Chaste , a Christian hermit named Paio (Pelayo) told the Galician bishop Teodomiro, from Iria Flavia ( Spain ), that he had seen some lights prowling over an uninhabited mountain. They found a tomb, probably of Roman origin, where a decapitated body was found with its head under its arm. King Alfonso ordered the construction of a church on top of the cemetery (compositum), origin of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela ("Santo Jacob del compositum"). Others maintain that the word Compostela comes from campus stellae: "field of stars", due to the lights that danced over the cemetery.


In May 1589, Francis Drake threatened Compostela after landing in La Coruña . The Archbishop, Juan de Sanclemente, agreed with the Cathedral Chapter to hide how important it was. For this reason, the remains were deposited in a hiding place inside the apse of the main chapel, behind the altar. Such remains were found thirty meters below the ground in the excavations carried out in the Cathedral in 1878 and 1879 by Antonio López Ferreiro .


In such excavations, it was possible to find, among the remains of a Roman mausoleum, a sepulchral inscription in Greek, Athanasios martyr and the remains of three different people: two of middle age and one in the last third of life, which led to their identification with the traditional Santiago and his disciples Atanasio and Teodoro. However, Pope Leo XIII appointed an extraordinary Congregation to study these remains. The documents sent to Rome, however, did not satisfy him, sending Monsignor Agostino Caprara, Promoter of the Faith in the process, to Santiago to examine the remains on the spot and take statements from those who intervened. Caprara, however, had the alleged rest of Santiago venerated in Pistoia analyzed first, a task that was in charge of Dr. Chiapelli, who ruled that it was a right mastoid process with remains of coagulated blood, a piece that would have been separated as a result of a beheading.


On June 8, 1884, he arrived in Santiago, and the examination revealed that one of the three skulls lacks a right mastoid process. The resolution of the Congregation was published on July 25 of the same year, the feast of Santiago. Leo XIII published on November 1 of the same year the Bull Deus Omnipotens, where he reviewed the History of the Sanctuary and called for new pilgrimages to Santiago.


In Chile, the Apostle Santiago is the patron of the capital city, Santiago de Chile, founded as Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura in 1541, and shares the patronage of the country with the Virgen del Carmen and has a side altar in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago . The coats of arms of the city of Santiago, of the Archbishopric of Santiago and of several communes of the Metropolitan Region, have eight gold shells on a blue background, representing the letters of the Apostle's name. Likewise, he is venerated in other towns and rural towns in the north and south of the country, where his feast, on July 25, is celebrated with great solemnity.



In 1056, a group from Liege (present-day Belgium) made a pilgrimage to Compostela. Led by Herman, Count of Grez, it includes the monks of the Abbey of Saint-Jacques de Liege, including Robert, who was later elected abbot of this community. The monks have an idea in mind: to bring relics of Saint James the Greater to their monastery. They present their petition to King Fernando I of León and Galicia, who agrees to it and hands them the right forearm of the Apostle. A few decades later, a monk from Saint-Jacques, wrote an account of the trip as a testimony.


The relic of the Apostle Santiago that the Circle of Santiago uses in its liturgical celebrations comes from the one preserved in the Diocese of Ghent in Belgium, certified by its bishop Mgr. Honoré Jozef Coppieters on August 25, 1934 under the inscription number 2457.


On May 7, 2014 it was authenticated by the Vicar General of Ghent, Bishop Paul Van Puyenbroeck and by the Chancellor of the same diocese, Bishop Ludo Collin.

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