Saint James Festivities in Antigua Guatemala

Saint James Festivities in Antigua Guatemala by Rudy Giron

July 25 is La Antigua Guatemala Patron’s Day; otherwise known as the fair day of Saint James. Why is Saint James the patron saint of La Antigua Guatemala? La Antigua Guatemala used to be the capital city of Guatemala (Central America to be precise) and at the time its name was La Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, or The Very Noble and Very Loyal City of Saint James of the Knights of Guatemala.

Santiago was a very popular name for the conquistadors to use as they rechristen the new lands of the American continent. If you check the entry for Santiago in Wikipedia, you will there are over 60 cities and towns throught the world that carry that name and that is a very short list since you could probably find about 60 towns with the Santiago name, just in Guatemala. But why was Santiago such a popular name for the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors?

The remains of Saint James the Greater are said to be buried in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Spain). Saint James is the patron saint of Spain and is related to the reconquista in the role of moor-slayer. His burial town, Santiago de Compostela, is considered the third most holy town of Catholicism (after Jerusalem and Rome). The pilgrimage to the grave of the Saint has become the most popular pilgrimage for Western European Catholics from the early middle ages onwards; making him one of the patron saints of pilgrimage. (source Wikipedia)

The Saint James Trivia Aside:

The name “James” in English comes from “Iacobus” (Jacob) in Latin. In eastern Spain, Jacobus became “Jacome” or “Jaime”; in Catalunya, it became Jaume, in western Iberia it became “Sant’Iago”, which developed into Tiago in Portugal and Galicia; Tiago developed into Diego, which is also the Spanish name of Saint Didacus of Alcalá. James’s emblem was the scallop shell (or “cockle shell”), and pilgrims to his shrine often wore that symbol on their hats or clothes. The French for a scallop is coquille St. Jacques, which means “cockle (or mollusk) of St James”. The German word for a scallop is Jakobsmuschel, which means “mussel (or clam) of St James”; the Dutch word is Jacobsschelp, meaning “shell of St James”. (source Wikipedia)

© 2012, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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