|St. James the Greater,
Two of the twelve apostles were named James. St. James the Greater is the brother of the apostle St. John and son of Zebedee and Mary Salome. He is "the Greater" because he was called to the apostolate earlier than St. James the Less, the "Brother of Jesus" who led the Christians of Jerusalem until that city's destruction in 70 AD.
A tradition in late antiquity held that the apostles divided up the world into territories to be evangelized, with Spain falling to St. James. In the ninth century a Galician monk announced that a star had led him to a field where he found the remains of the saint. This "field of the star" became the city of Compostela, one of the most important medieval pilgrimage destinations.
Many images of St. James the Greater represent him as a well-equipped medieval pilgrim with an ample cape, sturdy boots, a broad-brimmed hat, and a walking stick with a hook for hanging a drinking gourd. The hat will be adorned with a scallop shell, which Compostela pilgrims have used a sort of heraldic device for more than a thousand years (example).
Less literal portraits of the pilgrim saint may show him in the kind of antique garb associated with apostles, with the walking stick as his one irreducible attribute (as at left and in this 15th century polyptych and this 18th century statue).
A second iconographic type presents St. James as Santiago Matamoros -- St. James the Moor Slayer. This image recalls Ramiro of Castile's victory over the Muslims at the Battle of Clavijo (ca. 844). Christian participants in the battle said they saw St. James riding with them, slaying the enemy on every side. Santiago Matamoros became the patron saint of Christian Spain, and an iconography developed in which the horseback saint raises his sword in the midst of the fray, with dead and dying Moors at his feet (example).
In the western hemisphere, Spanish propaganda emphasized the malignity of the indigenous gods and reinvented Santiago Matamoros as the common people's champion against them (example). Matamoros santos, often depicting the saint as a Spanish soldier of the colonial era, came to be ubiquitous in the region (example).
Thus taught to look to Santiago Matamoros as their protector, indigenous Peruvians who rose up against the Spanish in the 19th century took him as their patron, renaming him Santiago Mataespañois -- Saint James the Slayer of Spaniards. An image of this remarkable avatar is now in Compostela's Museum of Pilgrimages.
Feast day: July 25
At left, 1635 painting by Alonso Cano
Other images of Santiago Matamoros:
Other images of St. James as a pilgrim:
Among other saints:
Possible identification in the Ugljan Polyptych, 1450Hagiography: