July 25 is going to be a big day not just because the president of the Republic will deliver her yearly State of the Nation Address in the House of the Representatives; rather it is the Feast of St James the Apostle.
St James the Apostle, also known as James the Greater, one of the Sons of Thunder, Jacobus Major, Iago, and Santiago was the son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of Saint John the Apostle, and may have been Jesus’ cousin. He is called “the Greater” simply because he became an Apostle before Saint James the Lesser. He is an apparent disciple of Saint John the Baptist; a fisherman who left everything when Christ called him to be a fisher of men; present during most of the recorded miracles of Christ; preached in Samaria, Judea, and Spain; and was the first Apostle to be martyred.
The pilgrimage to his relics in Compostela became such a popular devotion that the symbols of pilgrims have become his emblems, and he became patron of pilgrims. His work in Spain, and the housing of his relics there, led to his patronage of the country and all things Spanish; for centuries, the Spanish army rode to battle with the cry “Santiago!” (“Saint James!”)
Like all men of renown, many stories grew up around James. In one, he brought back to life a boy who had been unjustly hanged, and had been dead for five weeks. The boy’s father was notified of the miracle while he sat at supper. The father pronounced the story nonsense, and said his son was no more alive than the roasted fowl on the table; the cooked bird promptly sat up, sprouted feathers, and flew away.
He died on 44 at Jerusalem because he was stabbed with a sword by King Herod Agrippa. Legend says his body was taken by angels, and sailed in a rudderless, unattended boat to Spain where a massive rock closed around it. His relics now are at Compostela, Spain.
He is known to be the patron for arthritis and rheumatoid sufferers, druggists, equestrians, furriers, horsemen, knights, laborers, pharmacists, blacksmiths, pilgrims, riders, soldiers, conquistadors, tanners, and veterinarians. He is also a famous patron saint to places like Antigua, Guatemala, Chile, Compostela and Galicia in Spain, Puerto Rico, Bosnia Herzegovina, Nicaragua, Pistoia in Italy and the Philippines.
He has varieties of things that represented him, For instance, we can recognize him if we see a dark-bearded man holding any of the following: a scroll, a book, a pilgrim’s hat, or a sword. In the town of Batuan, Bohol, St James is holding a sword mounted on horseback. And like any other places who have chosen Saint James to be their patron saint, Batuan and its people celebrate every June 25 as the Feast of St James the Apostle.
To the Batuananons, Happy Fiesta and More Power!