St James’s Day

St James as o pilgrim with a shell on his bag

Saturday 25 July is St James’s Day which is special to pilgrims old, new and intending.

St James the Great, one of the core apostles and John’s brother, is now found in Santiago de Compostela cathedral where he draws thousands of pilgrims arriving on various trails across Spain from France and Portugal.

From England you start by walking the Pilgrims’ Way to Canterbury.

James’s shell logo is the badge for pilgrims to Santiago and other places including Canterbury where the shell is found on the cathedral’s gatehouse door.

“Pilgrimage is physical travel in pursuit of a spiritual goal,” says Vadis VR founder Professor Amy Giuliano when writing about St James as the patron of pilgrims.

“It is a microcosm of the soul’s lifelong journey to God – the greatest of all adventures.

“A pilgrim lives each day with radical intentionality and utter dependence upon divine providence. When he leaves the comforts and security of home behind, illusions of self-sufficiency and control quickly dissipate.

“He traverses unfamiliar terrain, encounters new people and customs, and sleeps each night in a different locale. He is vulnerable to the elements and the road’s many pitfalls. He experiences his own physical limits, his dependence on others for aid, and the necessity of pairing down his baggage to the bare essentials.

“At the same time, his spirits are buoyed by prayer, progress, and the natural beauty that surrounds him. He is encouraged by the charity of strangers and enjoys a deep camaraderie with fellow travellers striving toward the same goal.

“These lights and perils, ecstasies and elations involved in the pilgrim’s physical journey point to greater spiritual realities, thus imparting life-changing lessons.”

Information about St James and pilgrimage to Santiago is available from Camino Pilgrim.

St James depicted with pilgrim staff, water bottle and book decorated with a shell in a window at Wrotham Church. Thomas Becket stayed next door on his last ride back to Canterbury from Southwark in December 1170.

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