Thoughts on the Feast Day of Saint James July 25, 2019

In Spain, July 25 is a national holiday in honor of Saint James the Apostle, the patron saint of Spain.  In Spanish, James is translated as Santiago.

The Spanish custom is that a person who has the name of a saint must treat every one on the feast day.  The Catholic Spaniards to this day frequently celebrate the saint’s day more so even than the birthday.

The relics of St. James may be found in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Throughout the centuries Catholic pilgrims have journeyed to Compostela.  Many Americans enjoy the popular Camino de Santiago.

The historian Americo Castro argued that the Spanish cultural identity developed during the Middle Ages when Jews, Muslims, and Christians live in peace together in the Iberian peninsula.  The historian Claudio Sanchez-Albornoz offered an entirely different perspective.

There is no question that in medieval Spain a superior Muslim culture flourished and that at the same time there were important Jewish figures such as Maimominides.

It is easy to reflect on the atrocities perpetrated by the Muslims in the conquest of Spain and elsewhere in their attempted conquest of Europe.  Likewise we might reflect on the overzealous Inquisition and the Conquistadores.

But it seems more profitable to reflect on that which unites the three great monotheistic faiths.  It seems like the same exact formula.  You are to be ever-vigilant of your own sins and repentant.  You are to turn to God and you are to accomplish justice for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the resident alien.

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