Today's Gospel in Art - Feast of Saint James

  • Patrick van der Vorst

Santiago de Compostella Cathedral  © Christian Art

Santiago de Compostella Cathedral © Christian Art

Gospel of 25th July 2020 - Matthew 20:20-28

The mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her, 'What is it you want?' She said to him, 'Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.' 'You do not know what you are asking' Jesus answered. 'Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?' They replied, 'We can.' 'Very well,' he said 'you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.'

When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, 'You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'

Reflection on the Cathedral

Today we celebrate the Feast of St James the apostle. Saint James, son of Zebedee, was born in Galilee and died 11 years after Christ died. He is the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in the New Testament (Acts 12:2). As a close friend of Jesus and being part of His inner circle, James witnessed events such as the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37, Luke 8:51), the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2), and Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33, Matthew 26:37). James was beheaded by order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea and according to Spanish tradition, his body was taken to Santiago de Compostella, where his shrine still attracts pilgrims from all over the world. I have never walked the Camino myself, but would love to do so one day…

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella (illustrated in our photo) is only one of three cathedrals in the world built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus, the other two being St Peter's in Vatican City and St Thomas' Cathedral in Chennai in India. It would take too long to go into all the architectural history of the Cathedral, but basically the building is a Romanesque structure, with later Gothic and Baroque additions… a juxtaposition of different styles.

The Cathedral is of course also known for its swinging 'botafumeiro', or large swinging thurible. Created in 1851, it weighs 81 kilograms and is 160cm in height. When used, it is filled with 40 kilograms of charcoal and incense, pulled then by eight red-robed tiraboleiros pulling the ropes and bringing it into a swinging motion almost to the roof of the transept, reaching speeds of 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph).

On this day, exactly 30 years ago, my father sadly passed away, aged 50 years old. If I could kindly ask you to keep him in your prayers today. Thank you.


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Tags: Christian Art, Patrick van der Vorst, Compostella, St James

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