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James the Elder Feast Day (July 25)

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Feast days are taken seriously at our house. We take the day off from school and try to do something to commemorate the day, and, well, feast.

Today we are celebrating James the Elder (sometimes called the Greater). James, along with his brother John are fishing when along comes Jesus who summons them. They leave their father and their fishing nets and follow Him. James, with John and Peter, is also witness to the Transfiguration, and we see James again as he witnesses Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Herod Agrippa put James to death about A.D. 42 by the sword. Legend tells us that James spent seven years in Spain, spreading the Gospel. After his death, it's believed his followers returned his remains to Spain for burial. Then, somehow, his body was lost. In the ninth century, miraculously, a star appeared above his tomb. A great shrine was built on the spot and called Compostela ("Star of the Sea"). Pilgrims began visiting the shrine in the 11th century. Compostela was a much visited destination for pilgrims on pilgrimage; only Jerusalem and Rome attracted more pilgrims than Santiago! (Iago is James in Spanish.)

The symbol of Santiago is the scallop shell. The shell was worn by all pilgrims who journeyed to the shrine in Compostela. Earlier this year, the children and I read The Ramsay Scallop by Frances Temple. The characters go on pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James and, of course, receive their scallop shell. The book is about the physical journey for the characters from England to Spain, but also the spiritual and personal journeys for the characters as well.

The festival in Compostela is a week-long affair "celebrated with dramatic liturgy, beautiful local costumes, Galician bagpipe music, dancing, and wonderful special food." Today, many enjoy dishes featuring scallops in honor of Saint James.

As I have members in my family not too keen on scallops, we'll be making Madeleines today--those yummy scallop-shaped cookies. Enjoy the day, feast!, and remember James the Elder -- a prime example to us for living out this Christian life.

O gracious God, your servant and apostle James was first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ: Pour out upon the leaders of your Church that spirit of self-denying service, by which they may have true authority among your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Source: A Continual Feast and Book of Common Prayer, 2019.

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