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James, patron saint of Spain

Starting in the 9th century, the monarchs of the Reconquest recognised the apostle James as the patron saint of Spain; they established the “Voto de Santiago” (Vow to St. James), which obliged the liberated lands to make a compulsory offering every year of goods to the Cathedral of Santiago, in appreciation for the apostle’s intercession. The Spanish Parliament determined, in 1646, that this Vow would be an offering from monarchs, princes and Compostela’s archbishop to the Apostle’s Church; it is still carried out symbolically during the solemn mass held on St. James’ Day.

A few years before, in 1630, Pope Urbanus VIII had declared the apostle James as the only patron saint of Spain, against the opinion of some who wanted to declare Teresa of Avila as a co-patron saint.

The figure of James also played an inspiring role in the Conquest of America, during which he appeared like a “thunderbolt,” being transfigured into a warrior riding on a white horse to help the Christians on to victory. This explains why the apostle James is the patron saint of numerous Latin American cities founded in his name:

- Santiago de Chile
- Caracas, Venezuela (founded on July 25, 1567, with the name of Santiago de León de Caracas)
- Santiago de Guayaquil (Ecuador)
- Santiago de Cuba
- Santiago de Querétaro (Mexico)
- Santiago de Cali (Colombia)
- Santiago de Guatemala
- Santiago de Veraguas (Panama)
- Santiago de Chiuitos (Bolivia)
- Santiago de los Caballeros (Dominican Rep.)
- Santiago de Estero (Argentina)
- Province of Mendoza (Argentina)
- Province of Santiago de México
- Santiago de Sesimbra (Portugal)

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James, patron saint of Spain
James, patron saint of Spain