The following paragraph is taken from the "Catholic Almanac"
A Galilean, son of Zebedee, brother of John (with whom he was called a "Son of Thunder"), a fisherman; with Peter and John, witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter to life, the transfiguration, the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani; first of the Apostles to die, by the sword in 44 during the rule of Herod Agrippa; there is doubt about a journey legend says he made to Spain and also about the authenticity of relics said to be his at Santiago de Compostela; in art, is depicted carrying a pilgrim's bell; July 25 (Roman Rite), Apr 30 (Byzantine Rite).
The following is taken from "The Apostle" by Otto Hophan, O.F.M.Cap. and listed in the sources in the Doctors of the Catholic Church.
James had much in common with Andrew, his neighbor and forerunner in the college of apostles. Yet the two differed considerably in their characters and manners. James was also a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, and had worked on the water with Andrew and Simon Peter for many years. The Gospels indicate that the two fishermen's families even shared the same boats and fishing equipment, and managed their affairs together.
When our Lord had brought about the miraculous catch of fish, and Simon and his brother Andrew were not able to take in the overabundance alone, :"they beckoned to their comrades in the other boat to come and help them. And they came..." And so it was to be later on. When Peter, as a fisher of men, drew in his overflowing nets, he called to his former companions on the sea; and they came to share the weight of his burden, the overwhelming joy of his work.
James had a brother who also heard the apostolic calling. He was John the Evangelist, whose symbol is an eagle, whose wings one day were to carry him to greater heights than James would reach. James was to stand below in the shadows, just as Andrew did. It may be that Andrew and James owed many of their special favors and privileges to their prominent brothers. But James was neither quiet nor shy-and herein lies the difference between him and the silent Andrew-for he was born to be a great leader.
James, the Bold Apostle
James and John were the sons of Zebedee. Literally this name means "gift of God." Here the evangelist explicitly pointed out the father in order to distinguish this James from another apostle with the same name, James the son of Alpheus. This other James, the Son of Alpheus, was named James the Younger, or the Less (minor), by the evangelist Mark. He was called younger because he was called by Christ to the apostolate after James the son of Zebedee was called, and also because he was younger in age. Therefore, John's brother was usually called the elder-in Latin, major. Traditionally literally, major, is "the greater one."
The first surname-the Lord gave him yet another-indicates the nature of James' personality and character. He was indeed James the Great, high-minded and ambitious, even haughty at times, a man of stature and influence, an active apostle. The picture of him that Rubens painted depicts him as a man of strength, an upright man full of expression and energy.
Both James and John were gifted with this great characteristic from their infancy. Their father Zebedee, truly the "gift of God," must have been a generous and noble man, although he was a humble, unknown fisherman. His aspirations were high, and in the hour in which his sons were called by the Lord he saw his hopes fulfilled. It happened suddenly. Jesus called not only one of his sons, but both of them, and both at the same time. The Messias literally took James and John away from their boats and nets. "And they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him," St Mark observed.
How Zebedee had yearned and waited for this hour! The great spiritual joy in his soul overwhelmed the bitter sorrow that struck at his human love for his own two sons. In that hour he had opened up his heart. He watched them following Christ, and was silent. His own sons were no longer his own; they were the Lord's. But he wanted them to go with Jesus. Neither did he try to change their minds, nor did he hold them back. He knew they would ascend to greater heights with Jesus than they would with him in the fishing boats on the sea. And he was well able to adapt himself to his work without his sons. Zebedee was a great father. Rarely does a parent offer his children to God so nobly.
Salome, the mother of James and John, was also a noble-minded woman. It was more difficult and heart-breaking for her to give up both her sons to the distant apostolate at the same time than it was for Zebedee, but she also made the sacrifice very bravely. Soon she herself became a follower of Christ, and along with other pious women, she ministered to the Lord in the best way she knew how. She persevered and remained with the crucified Christ on Calvary. As a mother, she knew further sorrow when she saw that her son John was the only one of all the twelve apostles to stand by the cross. Where was James? Such parents are truly "gifts of God."
James is not mentioned at the calling of the disciples on the Jordan. John, his younger brother, was there. One of them had to remain at home to help Zebedee, and the elder son knew from past experience that in such cases favor fell upon the younger. Yet James profited by the merits of his brother John, as Scripture shows us. When the beloved disciples returned home, he spoke breathlessly about Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Israel, whom he had met on the Jordan with the sons of Jona. It may have affected James very deeply that he too could not have been there. Must he remain a fisherman, mending and washing nets for the rest of his life? He also felt a calling to higher things. If only the Messias would have walked past him, he would have gone with Him immediately! He waited.
Almost a year passed before the Lord returned to call James and his brother John to follow Him forever. Like the rays of a red sun coming up from the edge of the sea, the light of the Messias had already shone upon Simon and Andrew. It now struck James and John:
And going farther on, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother, John with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And immediately they left their father, and followed him.
When speaking of the selection of the Twelve, which followed the above-mentioned callings by a few months, St. Mark made the brief but significant remark, "There were...James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (these He surnamed Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder)." To be sure, our Lord gave a surname to Simon also; He renamed him Peter, the "rock." Just as "Peter" indicates an office, so "Boanerges" describes a character. James and John had such thundering and flashing natures, such stormy dispositions and almost reckless manners, that our Lord purposely added this surname, which is half praise and half censure.
The Gospels give two examples of the impetuous and presumptuous natures of the sons of Zebedee. The first occurred on a journey to Jerusalem through Samaria, Jesus "sent messengers before him. And they went and entered a Samaritan town to make ready for him; and they did not receive him, because his face was set for Jerusalem." Once before, when Jesus had left Jerusalem and approached their town, they welcomed Him, they "came to him, and they tried to detain him, that he might not depart from them... They besought him to stay there; and he stay for two days." But now their attitude was quite different, just the opposite of that previously shown Him. Since He had "set His face" to the capital city which the Samaritans so hated, they refused even to receive Him.
Certainly all the apostles were indignant about this violation of the obligation to show hospitality to a traveler. Now "when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, wilt thou that we bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?'" What a horrible desire! Both apostles, the two brothers, wanted to destroy this Samaritan citya. What they had in mind was even worse than the devastation and annihilation inflicted upon mankind by modern warfare. And these were apostles of the New Law! Had Christ spoken the Sermon of the Mount in vain? Had they not listened? Or had they not understood Him then? " 'But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you...'".
Both James and John should have remembered the judgment and punishment that the prophet Elias called down upon the messengers of the disloyal and rebellious King Ozochias because they made a similarly inhuman request. Jesus did not enforce his teachings with fire and fist. "But he turned and rebuked them." In some biblical manuscripts-the statement is missing in the best Greek, and in some Latin, manuscripts-our Lord added, "'You do not know of what manner of spirit you are; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'" The Sons of Thunder-how fitting the surname of these two brothers!
How rash and fiery this pair of brothers could be is shown in another Gospel incident. On their last journey to Jerusalem, when Christ made His triumphal entry into the city, the sons of Zebedee boldly approached their Master and asked Him, "'Grant to us that we may sit, one at thy right hand and the other at they left hand, in they glory.'" But before considering and passing judgment on this enigmatic and brazen act, one should read it in its context. Immediately before this, our Lord had predicted His passion and death for the third time:
"We are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that have been written through the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and scourged and spit upon; and after they have scoured him, they will put him to death; and on the third day he will rise again."
Even in this extremely grave hour in the life of Jesus, James and John brought up their selfish desire. They could only hear the prophecy of the Resurrection, which they thought would certainly be the long-awaited beginning of the Messias' glorious kingdom on earth. Their request was directed sharply against Simon Peter, to whom our Lord earlier had promised a position of honor and authority. They actually wanted to take Simon "down a notch."
Once before in Holy Scripture, a certain James had caused another to lose a special right and privilege. The patriarch James, or Jacob, inflected this loss on his brother Esau, from whom he stole the right of the first-born, the special blessing of their father. And Esau called out bitterly, "Rightly did they name him Jacob; already twice has he outwitted me." In an old Ethiopic "Acts of the Apostles," James the apostle is similarly chided: "You are as the sole of my foot, an oppressor."
In another part of the Gospels, the evangelist Matthew recorded the same incident in a different light. There James and John very modestly had their mother, Salome, approach the Lord to ask for this special favor. (What some mothers will not do to please their sons!) The good Salome may have felt quite embarrassed and ashamed to make such a plea, but her womanly logic told her she had to set such questionable affairs straight and bring them to a definite conclusion before they went too far. Besides, had she not given her two sons to the Lord? And, if this thought did not enter her mind, had she not herself ministered to Him? Were her sons not as eager and as qualified as the other apostles to occupy the first places in the kingdom of heaven?
The ambitious desire of the sons of Zebedee stirred up discord and ill feeling among the other apostles. "And when the ten heard this, they were indignant at the two brothers." The impetuous and presumptuous natures of these two may have been particularly burdensome to the college of apostles.
Clement of Alexandria explained the uniqueness of the death of the apostle James, casting a light on the painfully restrained temperament of this son of Zebedee. On the way to the place of execution his accuser followed him and pleaded for pardon. James considered only a moment, then embraced him and said, "Peace be with you." Joined with his former enemy, the bold apostles welcomed the blow of the sword of martyrdom. Nor was John by any means the sweet disciple he is so often depicted to be in representations which are sometimes worse than poor calendar-art. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were until death Boanerges, Sons of Thunder. They were virile and robust apostles, men, and any saccharine interpretation to the contrary repulsively contradicts Sacred Scripture.
Some of the spiritual writers and many teachers-God bless their innocence!-do not hesitate to exhort their readers and students to turn away from such ambitious and thunderous natures. Therefore it must astonish them, and with them any scrupulous and narrow-minded souls, that the Lord used a different, far-seeing pedagogy with James and John. These two sons of Zebedee received a certain general precedence and preference. In all four scriptural lists of the apostles they are placed among the first group, the first four. St. Mark places James in the second place, immediately after Peter. Throughout the Gospels James is portrayed as a prominent and distinguished apostle.
In the house of Jairus, at the miraculous raising from the dead of Jairus' daughter, our Lord "allowing no one to follow him except Peter and James, and John the brother of James." Jesus took only Peter, James and John to Mount Tabor. There they saw all the magnificence and majesty of the Lord. James had John wanted to share in this sitting at His right and left. He took Peter, James, and John with Him into the Garden of Olives to drink of His chalice. But they did not; they slept. Later they were to drink of His chalice, and they drank boldly. In addition to these few occasions on which the first three apostles were granted special privileges by our Lord, there may have been many more about which we do not know.
By this, then, Jesus Himself indicated that He wanted these three apostles to be men of greater influence and importance than the others. And He chose the three most daring, the three most thunderous. Only the great-minded could understand Him, the greatest of all. Only the great were capable of comprehending the deep meaning in this lesson which He set before them.
Certainly Jesus did not stifle James' bold and daring ideas. He did not let this valuable man stand idle, but encouraged him to persevere in his own natural ways. Certainly James, like his brother, John, had a fair amount of common sense. Although he may have been proud, but he was also courageous. Who would throw away a nugget of gold because he found it in a clod of dirt? Who would fell a productive tree because its form was crooked? A man's manners may differ according to the culture of his environment, but whatever the circumstances, if his actions are done for God, the value of them cannot be destroyed.
Extraordinarily gentle, therefore, was our Lord's answer to the daring and presumptuous request of the sons of Zebedee. Even though they had removed themselves so very far from the spirit of the Gospels, He did not speak to the two brothers in an imperious tone. He neither censured them, rebuked them, nor reprimanded them; but He rejected their daring petition with an illusion to divine predestination:
Christ did not want to restrain the two brothers in their efforts to reach greater heights; He wanted to direct these efforts to another goal. He did want to quench their thirst before they had drunk of the chalice."'Can you drink of the cup,'" He lured them on, " 'of which I am about to drink?' " Here, in the drinking of the cup, in the sufferings which accompany friendship with Jesus, James was to stand the test of his greatness. He who wants to share in the majesty of God must first drink of the cup of the Lord, share His cross.
Christ used this occasion also to instruct the other apostles about true greatness. The indignation of the remaining ten became apparent to the sons of Zebedee. These others felt the prick of the thorny ambition of Salome's sons. Our Lord did not will to replace their ardent zeal with a sense of sufficiency and self-complacency. He wished them to strive for the highest goal in life, but he also wanted to give them a new purpose in their striving:
"You know that those who are regarded as rulers among the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you. On the contrary, who ever wishes to become great shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the slave of all; for the son of Man also has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
The simple and easy way to enter the kingdom of God is to persevere along the road of service, whether the way is rutty or paved. So the Master of the Twelve welcomed this occasion. While answering the request of James and his brother John, He laid down a fundamental principle for His disciples that serves as a new appraisal of value for all ages. In the kingdom of Christ, too, there are those who are first, but on earth these must be as the last.
When Jesus asked, " 'Can you drink of the cup...?' " James answered quickly and self-confidently, " 'We can.' " Surprised and glad, Jesus looked deep into the heart of James, His daring son of Thunder. In compassion, He prayed for this courageous apostle.
James, the Martyr
Time passed, and nothing happened. James had done nothing conspicuous or outstanding in the ranks of the apostles. Then Christ was crucified, and all was over. Before the risen Savior's manifestation in Galilee, this apostle had returned, with his coworkers, to his fishing. There on the sea everything seems to be as it had been before the Messias came. Yet something was missing. The Resurrection gave Jesus back to His apostles, but only for awhile. After the Ascension, the fearful little group had retreated to an upper room to await the first Pentecost. Suddenly "fire from heaven" fell upon them, the true and holy and heavenly fire that purifies. James left his hide-out with the others and went to the far regions of the world preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Breviary praises this apostle in the lesson read on his feast day: "After the ascension James preached the divinity of the Lord in Judea and Samaria and converted many to Christianity." But all the others did this, also. He drank from the cup of the Lord, but so had all the others drunk from this chalice.
During the first persecution of the Church that was instigated by Jewish leaders-"the high priest... and a party of Sadducces"-he was seized and arrested, imprisoned and scourged. But the others endured this, too. Later "they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus." No longer did the words that James had spoken to the Lord remain without meaning.
The second persecution took place when Stephen, the first martyr of the infant Church, was stoned to death that he might join the crucified God-Man. How significant it is that we should celebrate St. Stephen's birthday on December 26, the day after the birth of Christ!
The third persecution was that of Herod Agrippa 1. There were three Herods, and of these three the first was the most diabolical. There was a curse on all generations of this family, bearing out the biblical allusion to the inheritance of a debt.
The grandfather of Herod Agrippa 1 was Herod 1, so-called the Great, ruler from 40-4 B.C. His reign glowed with success, but his character was tinged with darkness. He was sly, crafty, cunning. He literally sought to slaughter the infant Church in the cradle when he murdered the children of Bethlehem, the Holy Innocents. Agrippa's father, Aristobolus, along with another one of his brothers, was executed by the other Herod because he was suspected of treason.
The uncle, Herod Antipas, who ruled from 4 B.C. to 39 A.D. as tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, was an incestuous adulterer and the murderer of John the Baptist. Early on the morning of Good Friday he derided the accused Christ; he jeered and scoffed and sneered at him.
This was the sinful ancestry of Herod Agrippa, king of the Jew from 41 to 44 A.D. He spent a dissipated childhood, first in the courts of his grandfather Herod and later in Rome, where he became acquainted with sin and vice. through the favor and good will of his equally immoral friend, Emperor Caligula, who ruled from 37 to 41 A.D,, he seized the tetrarchate of his deceased uncle, Philip, and also that of Lysanias. Through plots and intrigue, he took over the province and jurisdiction of his uncle, Herod Antipas, who was forced into exile. Finally he appropriated the rule of Idumea, Judea, and Samaria from Emperor Claudius. This powerful sovereign united under his scepter the entire district that was once his grandfather's. Not less powerful an enemy of the Church, he appeared to have it in his power to crush the Church with the mere nod of his head.
The Acts of the Apostles briefly states the reason for the persecution of Herod Agrippa: "It pleased the Jews." The majority of the Jews were dissatisfied with the power and rule of Agrippa. A rabbi had even prohibited him from entering the temple. Nevertheless, the king meant to disarm his enemies through crafty and cunning concessions, and thus gradually gain for himself the sympathy of the people. In view of this ambition he persecuted the unpopular and hated Christians to please the Jews. Just as his uncle, Herod Antipas, for politico-diplomatic reasons, previously had turned our Lord over to Pilate, so this Herod also, became of bribery, turned the respected men of the apostolic Church over to the Jews: "Now at this time Herod the king set hands on certain members of the Church to persecute them. He killed James the brother of John with the sword..." It was around Easter time in the year 42.
Herod looked upon James-and with good reason-as a special capture. It is justifiable to assume that this fervid Son of Thunder, by his zeal for Christ, had made himself particularly odious to the Jews. They wanted to dispose of him more than of any other. James the apostle was enemy number one. What a vast amount of seed James had sown for Christ! And now, before he had time to reap harvest, before he had time to taste of the sweet cup, he was struck down by the blow of a criminal. Could God not have cared for and protected the men who wanted to carry out His divine plan? Lord, where are Your friends?
And one can ask still another question here, which leaves no peace of mind until answered. Herod "proceeded to arrest Peter also,...intending to bring him forth to the people after the Passover." Was it to bring him forth to the people or to cast him forth to the dogs? But Peter was miraculously rescued and freed by an angel. Why had God sent no angel to James? Was James not worthy of the same miracle? Inscrutable are the ways of the Lord! The mission of James was completed in his martyrdom for Christ, and immediately he received his reward. But Peter and the other apostles still had a whole world to win.
In the bloody death of James the light of divine wisdom is perceptible. Once James had assured the Lord that he could drink of His bitter chalice: God took him at his word. Martyrdom and persecution were to be the sign for the apostles to go to all parts of the world. According to very old and reliable sources, the apostles had confined their work, for almost twelve years, to the little corner of Palestine. Now the persecution of Herod Agrippa had spread over the entire land of the Jews. Peter "departed, and went to another place." This he did as soon as he was freed from his prison cell, and most of the other apostles followed his example.
James, however, lay in his blood next to the temple in Jerusalem. Since the days in Samaria, this son of a fisherman had longed passionately to prepare the way for the Lord, but this privilege was not to be his any longer. His death served God in another way, though it is not ours always to understand at first glance the ways of Divine Providence. The martyrdom of St. James finally set into action the proselytizing of the whole world. By this noble death the apostle James became "the Great" and "the First." Here is heard the echo from the Gospels: " ' Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.' "
Often later, when oppressed and persecuted, the other apostles were to recall the martyrdom of their brother, James. Of these sufferings, Paul could truthfully write,
From the Jews five times I received forty lashes less one. Thrice I was scourged, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was adrift on the sea; in journeying often, in perils from floods, in perils from robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils from the sea, in perils from false brethren; in labor and hardships, in many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness.
Indeed Paul suffered, but James had suffered even more for Christ than the others. His martyrdom was a living encouragement to them. His ambitious nature had at one time hurt the others, but he was to prove that he really was first, not the first in authority, as Peter, and not the first in labors, as Paul, but the first in death.
James, the Journey Apostle
The early death of this follower of Christ-he died before the first council of the apostles in 49 A.D.-was not conducive to the development of legends concerning him. Old apocryphal works restricted themselves to a depiction of his works, his sphere of life, his circle of acquaintances, and his martyrdom, all in Jerusalem. Theodomir, Bishop of Iria in Galicien around the year 772, was the first to record the definite statement that James suffered martyrdom in Jerusalem after his return from Spain. His mortal remains may have been taken first to Joppe, and from there across the sea to Iria in Spain, by the apostle's followers and disciples. Subsequently, Iria received the name Compostella, which many consider to be a shorter form of Giacomo Postolo- James the apostle-or San Jago de Compostella.
In the year 1082 a stately building was begun over what was believed to be the grace of this apostle-martyr. Santiago de Compostella must be classed with Jerusalem and Rome as one of the three great attractions today for tourists on pilgrimage. From the tenth to the fifteenth centuries pilgrimages to the grave of James were world-famous. Only the pope could release one from a solemn promise to make a pilgrimage to Santiago. Innumerable are the churches and shrines and fountains dedicated to St. James on the roads leading to Santiago. James the Elder was at one time the most popular of all the apostles, today he is the patron of Spain and the patron of pilgrims.
No one can begrudge the gallant Spaniards the honor of claiming this courageous apostle for their own. Their great devotion to this saint has been passed down for centuries, but the legends concerning his labors in Spain are scarcely tenable. These legends had a late origin. The rich Spanish literature from the fifth to the eighth centuries is completely silent about James' journey to Spain. A remark in the Epistle at that time, about the year 58 A. D., had not yet been opened up to Christianity: "But now, having no more work in these parts..., when I set out for Spain I hope to see you as I pass through..."
Another traditional belief which was questioned was the transference of the relics of the apostle James to Compostella in Spain. Pope Leo XIII, in the year 1884, recognized its authenticity. In the early Church, the feast of James the Elder-there is another opinion that maintains this was a feast of James the Less-was observed on December 27, together with that, of Peter and John. It was considered as a companion-feast in connection with Christmas. Today the feast is celebrated on July 25, supposedly the day on which the relics of St James were taken to Spain. Many customs have arisen around this date: a day for a celebration, a day to begin picking apples, a day to begin the harvest-St James' Day, the harvest day; St James Day, the cutting day-and in the European mountains it is a holiday for shepherds.
Since the twelfth century James has always been portrayed as a muscular pilgrim, with a pilgrim's scrip and staff which indicates a widespread knowledge of the legend that he did journey to Spain. He was the first apostle to complete a mission for the Lord. Indeed he was the first to see the "majesty of the Lord, " for he was the first to drink in martyrdom.
We also are pilgrims, far from the Lord. In this life we have no lasting state; the future is always uncertain. When we, as James, drink of our cup, then we, too, shall come to our distant home, tired and happy. In the Votive Mass for Pilgrims the prayer is said:
Lord, we beseech Thee, remain with us, and graciously let the journey be spent in your holiness, that in all changes of this way and of this life it may always find your protection and help.
This grant us through the petition of your holy pilgrim and apostle and saint, James. Amen.
St Anthony Messenger Magazine had an excellent article by Wynne Crombie in its July 2003 edition about St James the Apostle titled "Journey Spain's Road to Compostela." I will quote it in part and imagine the author is speaking and writing about his visit and interviewing as he goes.
For centuries, faith-filled pilgrims have braved the route to Santiago de Compostela. Even today, the famous Cathedral of St. James draws them.
Ever since the relics of St James were discovered, pilgrims have been trekking the Camino from the Pyrenees in France to Santiago in the northwestern corner of Spain.
At the height of its popularity, in the 11th and 12th centuries, the city was receiving over half a million travelers a year. People of all classes and walks of life come to visit the shrine of St James the Apostle, making this the third-holiest site in Christendom, after Jerusalem and Rome.
The complete Spanish portion is about a six-week journey.
As the Legend goes, it began in the early days of Christianity when James the Apostle had been sent to evangelize Spain. When he returned to Jerusalem in 44 A.D., King Herod had him beheaded. After Herod refused permission to have St James' body buried, the saint's disciples, Theodore and Athanasius, pirated the body and cast it afloat upon an unmanned boat.
As the legend goes, an angel led the boat across the sea and up the river Ulla to the capital of Roman Galicia to a place where there was a cemetery, or compostum. It became known in time as the Compostela, or field of stars.
Dr Jose Cernadas, a professor of medieval history, teaches a class on the Camino at the University of Santiago, where the author met him. His class discusses the legends as well as the facts.
"The problem," he says, "is that we are not really sure that St. James is the one buried in the cathedral. From a historical point of view, people from the Middle Ages believed that St. James is the one buried here.
Dr Cernadas also mentions one of the Compostela's most renowned tourist. "One of the first pilgrims was St Francis of Assisi," says Dr. Cernadas. "What we know is that he came to Compostela and founded the monastery of St. Francis.
"Is the journey safe?" the author asked? "Perfectly," Dr. Cernadas say, "even for a woman traveling alone. And the experience can be a magical and profoundly human one. There is always the camaraderie of shared experiences. Without a doubt, it is spiritual, cultural and historical-all of that."
Pope John Paul II visited Mt Gozo in 1993. A large granite monument stands as a testimony to that event. On one side a copper plaque commemorates the pilgrimage of John Paul to Santiago. St Francis' journey is honored on the other side.
The first place the pilgrims view their final destination is on Mt. Gozo (Mount of Joy), just outside the city. We drive up on a warm Santiago day to experience the final mile of the Camino for ourselves. As we walk along that last mile, villages blend together. It is a rural way of life, as it has been for centuries.
In recent years a religious awakening for the Compostela pilgrimage has occured, most due to the celebration of the "Holy Years." The Ano Santo Compostelano, a yearlong celebration, occurs whenever the 25th of July (the feast of St. James)occurs on a Sunday. The last celebration was in 1993 when Pope John Paul II came to Santiago to open the Puerta Sacra, or sacred door. The next one comes up in 2004.
Nothing prepares you for the sight of the twin spires of the Cathedral of St James. The first part was consecrated in 1105, and the rest in 1211. The outside is encased in 18th-century splendor, but the inside is strictly Romanesque gilt and gold.
The author conclues by saying that "we come away with the intense belief that, in spite of the absence of concrete proof, the bones of St James are indeed in the tomb. Such faith could not exist otherwise."
The following links provides insight on St James: http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/golden233.htm