St. James the Greater, (Santiago) was the son of Zebedee and Salome who became one of disciples of Jesus. He figures in many ancient traditional stories and one of the more popular is his engagement in battle at Clavijo (Spain, 844) against Muslims, symbol of Reconquista. Saint James, it was said, appeared as a warrior-knight on his white steed holding aloft a white banner as he helped the Christian armies of King Ramiro I in attacks against the Moors. As a result of their victory, St. James has come to be known as "Matamoros".
Santiago is Spain's patron saint, and in the Philippines, he is also the titular patron of such towns as Plaridel (Bulacan), Bolinao (Pangasinan), Betis (Pampanga), Libon (Albay), Ibaan (Batangas) and Dapitan. The famed Fort Santiago in Manila features the wooden relief of the saint is carved on a gateway arch.
The beautiful processional santo of Philippine origin shown above represents the saint vanquishing the Moors. At least three decapitated heads are at the feet of his white horse, excellently carved and outfitted with glass eyes and perhaps, abaca hair for its mane and tail. Santiago is of the articulated manikin type of santo; he wears a human hair wig. On his head is a knight's helmet, decorated with a feathered plume. He brandishes a sword and an embroidered shield in his hands. He wears an elaborated set of gold-embroidered vestments.
Martyred by Herod Agrippa in AD 44, his remainswere transferred to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. Santiago is the patron of veterinarians, equestrians, pharmacists, tanners and furriers. His Feast Day is December 30.
O Glorious Saint James, because of your fervor and generosity
Jesus chose you to witness his glory on the Mount
and his agony in the Garden.
Obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending struggles of this life.
Help us to follow Christ constantly and generously,
to be victors over all our difficulties,
and to receive the crown of glory in heaven. Amen.