Paete's town fiesta is held on July 25, the feast of St. James the Great, Apostle and Martyr ( his complete title). In Spanish he is known as "Santiago Mayor, Apostol y Martir."

Lots of people like to put a "San" before Santiago (making it "San Santiago"), but truly, it is just "Santiago." The old Spanish equivalent of the English "James" is "Iago", thus "Santiago" is sufficient enough. It was an old practice in Spain that if the name of the saint starts with a vowel, the title "San" or "Santo" simply gets connected to it. Two other examples are Santana (Santa Ana) and Santisteban (Santo Esteban).

The town of Paete must have been really special to the old Spanish friars that they gave to Paete Spain's own patron saint. Santiago is to Spain as St. Patrick is to Ireland.

St. James the Great was an apostle of the Lord Jesus, the brother of St. John the Evangelist (patron saint of neighboring village of San Juan.) St. James was among the most trusted by the Lord, along with his brother St. John and St. Peter. The three of them were with Jesus at the raising of Jairius' daughter, during the Transfiguration, and at the Agony in the Garden. Santiago was called "the great" or "major" because he was supposed to have been a taller and heavier man than the other James disciple of Christ, St. James the Less (Santiago Minor.)

In the Bible, we read of the mother of James and John asking the Lord that when He sits at His kingdom, could He be gracious enough to have her sons on either side of Him? (In the famous Da Vinci "Last Supper", traditionally carved in bas relief in Paete, this request was granted - St. John sits to the right of Jesus while St. James sits on His left.)

But in the Bible, the Lord answered that while that privilege is not for Him to give, would the brothers be willing to drink of His cup? Yes, they replied - and so they did. St. James was the first among the apostles to die for the faith.

In Spain as in Paete, Santiago is depicted as a warrior riding a white horse with a sword held up high, ready to strike at the Saracens. In real life, Santiago was a fisherman, as was his brother James; as also was Peter and his brother Andrew. Why then this Santiago knight on a white horse?

Well, the story goes that the body of Santiago was translated from Palestine to Spain at the time when Campostela was overrun by the moors. In a vision, the Spanish saw Santiago riding on a white horse, galloping across the sky, brandishing a sword. From that time on, the Saracens (moors) were driven out of Spain and to this day, Campostella is a major pilgrimage site north of Barcelona.

If you can't afford to go to Campostela, Spain on St. James' Day - why, just come to Paete. St. James is venerated here as well - in our churches and in our hearts.

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