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Representations of St. James

Plaza del Obradoiro is an excellent visual summary of the possible iconographic representations that have been made of St. James. The Cathedral façade features the pilgrim with a cape, hat and staff. In the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos and Colegio de San Xerome, he appears as an apostle, although with some nods to pilgrim symbols. And finally, high up on Rajoy Palace, he is depicted as a warrior, riding on his white horse and beside the famous Battle of Clavijo.

Alfonso Rodríguez Castelo gives the following explanation in his book “Sempre en Galiza”: “Europe depicted the Apostle James like its pilgrims, wearing a cape and hat covered with scallop shells (…) as we see on top of St. James’ in Paris, like a saint protecting the roads, a symbol of Europe’s travelling spirit.”

“Spain depicted the Apostle James in the likeness of Reconquest warriors, mounted on a white horse and wielding a sword (…); this is St. James the Moor-Slayer, who is venerated in Hispanic churches as a provincial patron saint or the patron saint of Spain.”

“Galicia depicted the Apostle James in the likeness of the Patriarchs, seated in majesty, (…) his eyes staring towards the unknown West and his lips repeating that Psalm of David: “Through the sea your way was, And your path was through many waters.” That is how Maestro Mateo depicted him and sculpted him in the “Pórtico de la Gloria,” with a replica on the high altar to receive the ancient visitors of his Cathedral.”

Image gallery

Representations of St. James Apostle at the Holy Door

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