Orthodox Christian: St. James & Inspiration In Wales

A plaster cast of St. James, in LondonFRIDAY, APRIL 30: Orthodox Christians honor St. James the Great today, the brother of St. John and the first disciple to die as a martyr. Western Christians celebrate St. James in July. (Orthodox Church in America has more on this saint.) St. James was present at the Transfiguration, along with his brother and St. Peter, and at the Garden of Gethsemane, and so he is greatly honored in the Church. Both James and John were called “sons of thunder,” and many believe they were given this title because of their energetic and bold personalities. (Wikipedia has a detailed biography.) 

After Pentecost, St. James was a preacher in Spain, before returning to Jerusalem. Believers hold that his bones were taken back to Spain, and rest at the Santiago de Compostela. St. James is the Patron Saint of Spain, and Santiago de Compostela is considered the third holiest town within Catholicism. The pilgrimage to Santiago—which spans hundreds of kilometers and is known as “the Way of Saint James”—has been a popular pilgrimage since the Middle Ages. (Sacred Destinations features beautiful photos and lots of information about the site.) The Cross of St. James, too, originated during the Crusades and is also known as the Spanish Cross.

Today, a couple in Wales has been inspired by their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and is in the process of clearing a pilgrimage of their own: the couple hopes to clear a route from Basingwerk to Bardsey Island, a place that is regarded as holding the remains of 20,000 saints. (Read the BBC article here.) Husband Chris Potter, Dean of St. Asaph, draws hope in knowing just how popular the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela has become through the years. While approximately 2,500 pilgrims visited the Spanish site in 1980, more than 250,000 are expected this year.

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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