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Santiago the Moor-Killer



     The devil is in the details, and now the devil is our beloved Jaqui White. A scholarly Episcopalian, she writes:
     My Episcopal Calendar says that St. James The Apostle's day is Monday, the 26th of July, NOT the 25th, as you mentioned. I do not wish for you to spend the wrong day in revelry.
     Jaqui: As always, I am right. I checked the Spanish encyclopedia, and it says July 25. It you wish for an official statement, consult Acta Sanctorum, vi, 1-124. I would like to know: Are Episcopalians unorthodox to the point of changing Saints' days? I suspect they are. I must consult scholarly friends.
     In any case, Sunday, July 25 was a great day in Santiago de Compostela. The eve the sky had been lit up by pyrotechnics.(My recollection is of being unable to get any sleep because of the noise. My comments were quite unsaintly). On Sunday morning the great cathedral was the scene of a concelebrated mass with 21 bishops lined up. King Juan Carlos read an appeal for Christian love and an end to violence. (To prove again their disdain, Basque terrorists did their best to wreck a new bridge in Bilbao, the home of WAISer Ignacio Palacios). Then the King, the Queen and the dignitaries climbed the steps behind the altar and embraced the statue of the saint, who (or which) seemed totally indifferent. Meanwhile, the huge censor, hanging from the cathedral ceiling on a long chain, swung back and forth over the heads of the faithful, filling the air with incense. ("Ceiling" should be spelled "cieling" since it derives from the heaven to which the incense smoke rises, like prayers).
     Then the King, the Prime Minister, and other top officials rushed to the airport to catch the plane which flew them to Rabat, just in time for the funeral ceremonies of King Hassan II. More embraces; I have lost count of the number of germ-spreading embraces I have seen on European TV in the last two days. Note that I like garlic. No mention of Santiago. The Moor-Killer is not loved in Morocco.
     Not mentioned publicly in Santiago were real problems. There was no mention of Socialists participating in the Santiago ceremony; these clerical operations are a political statement rather than an expression of piety. The Aznar government has been shrill in condemning the Socialist Party for its deal with the Galician independentists. The leaders of the Portuguese government took part, probably to show support for them. After all, Galicia is the cradle of Portugal and speaks what is really Portuguese.

Ronald Hilton - 07/25/99


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