Saint James Day in La Antigua Guatemala

Palm Tree from La Gran Canaria

Those who have followed this blog for a while, especially the Guatemalan Fair series, would know that today, July 25th, 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? If you read the entry What’s in a name? That which we call La Antigua Guatemala you will find out that 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 as was pointed out by Manolo in his comment.

Can you imagine telling your relatives and friends you are going to The Very Noble and Very Loyal City of Sait James of the Knights of Guatemala to adopt a child or two; they would probably ask you where in the world is that and then say a few words with insane as one of them.

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)

Enough, I get it, you say. Now tell me why in the world you pick a palm tree to tell us all this [boring] history? Simple, blame Pamela from Tenerife Daily Photo. She pointed out that Tenerife’s Bishop is to visit La Antigua Guatemala on July 25th to visit the burial site of Santo Hermano Pedro Betancourt. Also, often she points out the close relationship between Islas Canarias, Spain and La Antigua Guatemala; sometimes she even copies the subjects of the entries from this humble site. 😉 Rudy, you are rambling again, get to the point, you shout. Okay, this palm tree in Central Park of La Antigua Guatemala was brought from Gáldar, Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, which by the way shares the Santiago name.

The Plaque below, planted next to the palm tree says the following:

The Honorable City Hall of Gáldar
Under this canarian Palm tree
It will be remember through perpetuity
The brotherhood
Of the Jacobus Cities
Of La Antigua Guatemala
And Gáldar (Canary Islands)
United through the common name of
Saint James of the Knights
(fast and liberal translation from yours truly)

Palm Tree from Canarias Plaque

The Saint James Trivia Side Note:

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)

Rudy, all of that for a palm tree; you’ve got to be kidding me, you say, right?

© 2007 – 2020, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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