Tonight is the vigil of the feast of St. James the Greater. Tomorrow, we are going to celebrate his feast by having Coquilles St. Jacques, and hopefully I will be able to get to Mass tomorrow on my lunch hour. We've never cooked this particular meal before and as the scallops are quite expensive, I hope that it turns out. Anyway, it will be an adventure.
When we had been married about ten years, maybe 1981, we were walking on the beach at Yorktown, VA and found this petrified scallop shell. At the time, it was encrusted with all sorts of other shells. Bill took it to the museum where he worked and they said it was probably about 45,000 (correction--now I'm told million) years old. When my daughter was in the fourth grade, she cleaned it and used it in her science project, and she and Bill made a box for it that looked a lot like this. That one fell apart, but about 7 years ago when we started praying about walking the Camino, Bill got someone to make a new frame and this one has been hanging in our living room ever since.
About the same time, I started looking for a statue of St. James. You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find a statue that I could bear to look in the face. This isn't exactly what I wanted, but it's different from anything else I had seen for sale, and I like it because I found it at the gift shop at the Chapel of Our Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine, which was the first shrine dedicated to the Blessed Mother in the United States. He usually sits up high on a bookcase, but I've moved him, along with the shell, to a more prominent place for the feast, and probably for some time to come.
We've talked here lately about the Pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and while most of you probably know why there is a cathedral there, maybe I ought to explain in brief. The cathedral stands in the place where, according to legend, a 9th century hermit named Pelayo found the remains of St. James, which had somehow been miraculously translated to this location some time after James was killed by Herod Agrippa I. A star marked the place, thus the name Compostela, field of stars. There is a ton of discussion and speculation about this story out there if you care to spend some time with Google, or even, gasp, in the library, but these are the basic facts that I've heard before and which concur with the information found here.
I've been thinking a lot about St. James today while I was planning to write this post, and I realized that my thoughts are so compartmentalized that when I think of Santiago de Compostela, I only think of St. James in this relation. I've been conscious that he was an apostle, of course, but today it really dawned on me, "Oh! This is the guy that was at the Transfiguration. He was one of the Sons of Thunder. He was the brother of the Beloved Disciple." I also found that he is the patron of many people and things including arthritis sufferers, and pharmacists (Have you any idea how many pharmacists I've had to do with lately?), so he'll be especially good to have around. He is also the patron saint of rides, which is nice to know in case I should ever be so insane as to get on the back of a horse again. I am not in charge and the horse always knows that I am not in charge, so maybe St. James could help me out.
May you all have a blessed feastday!