Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Haw Jimmy!

 The chapel containing the relics of St James in Compostela, Spain
Or even (if you have the Gaelic), Ha Seamus! (Which is Anglicised into the forename Hamish).  Today is St James's Day.  He was St John's brother and, like him, a fisherman. One of the witnesses of the Transfiguration and one of those who slept through most of the Agony in the Garden. He was the first apostle to be martyred, being beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I in 44AD to please the Jewish opponents of Christianity. He was buried in Jerusalem, and nothing more was heard about Oor Jimmy until the ninth century.
Then a tradition emerged that his relics were brought to Spain (unlike poor old Andrew who was shipwrecked on the Fife coast and has had to put up with the weather both here and in the RC Cathedral in Edinburgh ever since) some time after his martyrdom, and his shrine at Compostela in Galicia grew in importance until it became the greatest pilgrimage centre in western Europe. In every country there are churches of St James and well-known, well-trodden pilgrim routes.  In England, pilgrim routes lead from all parts of the country to the major ports that were used on the pilgrimage. This network of routes is a witness to the fact that the Middle Ages were not the static stay-at-home time that we often think them to be: everyone must have known someone, or known someone who knew someone, who had made the pilgrimage. The scallop-shell, the emblem of St James, has become the emblem of pilgrims generally.

Since have in the last 2 weeks celebrated the Scottish 1929 Liturgy twice and attended Communion in the Church of England according to the Book of Common Prayer 1662 (Scottish Eucharistic Prayer infinitely superior, English order more sensible, but both Eric Morecombe liturgies - all the right words just not necessarily in the right places!), Archbishop Cranmer's collect is the only fit response:

Grant, O merciful God, that as thine holy Apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all that he had, without delay was obedient unto the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him; so we, forsaking all worldly and carnal affections, may be evermore ready to follow thy holy commandments; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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