Santiago de Compostela was established as a parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange on September 1, 1979 by Bishop William Johnson. It was named after the Shrine of Saint James of Compostela in Spain. The parish buildings are set on six acres of land featuring a church, rectory (1984) and parish hall (1997). Our church is home of four thousand families. The first Galician Granite Pilgrimage Cross in the United States is now located in our parish fountain. This granite cross was a GIFT to us from our mother church Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Bishop Michael Driscoll blessed this cross on July 25, 1993. The three-foot, carved statue of Santiago was placed in its shrine niche on August 1, 1993.
Our patron saint is Saint James who was son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of Saint John the Apostle, and may have been Jesus' cousin. He is actually called Saint James the Greater because he became an Apostle before Saint James the Lesser. He was a disciple of Saint John the Baptist and a fisherman by trade. St. James is described as one of the first disciples to join Jesus. He left everything when Christ called him to be a fisher of men, on the shores of the River Jordan.
James was one of the three Apostles, along with Peter and John, privileged to witness three miraculous events:
• The Healing of Peter's mother-in-law (Matthew 1:29-31),
• The raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37-43),
• The Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:2-8).
Jesus called James a 'son of thunder'. St. Luke's Gospel tells us that James called down fire from Heaven on the Samaritans because of their lack of faith. There is a well-known story in St. Mark's Gospel where the two brothers ask Jesus for the privilege of sitting at His right and left side in Heaven.
James was also present in the Garden of Gethsemane as one of the few apostles who accompanied Jesus there. He fell asleep as Jesus prayed before he was arrested on the orders of Pontius Pilate. After Pentecost, James went on to preach the Gospel in Samaria and Judea, and then legend says he traveled a great distance to Spain to spread the good news there.
St. James the Greater was preaching by the River Ebro in Caesaraugusta (Spain). It was looking like James’ mission was failing, making him depressed, he was in prayer one day when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him in the flesh (she was still alive at this time, so it was not an apparition but a bilocation) she appeared standing on a six-foot tall pillar of jasper, carried by angels.
The Virgin Mary told St. James: “This place is to be my house, and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall build… and the people of this land will honor greatly my Son Jesus.”
The chapel originally built by Saint James was later destroyed along with a number of subsequent chapels built on the same site. However, the statue and pillar have been preserved however for almost 2000 years. Numerous healings have occurred throughout the years by those visiting the site.
Saint James is the patron saint of Spain and, according to legend, his remains are held in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. (The name Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sanctu Iacobu, "Saint James".) The traditional pilgrimage to the grave of the saint, known as the "Way of St. James", has been the most popular pilgrimage for Western European Catholics from the Early Middle Ages onwards, although its modern revival and popularity stems from Walter Starkie's 1957 book, The Road to Santiago. The Pilgrims of St. James. 237,886 pilgrims registered in 2014 as having completed the final 100 km walk (200 km by bicycle) to Santiago to qualify for a Compostela. When 25 July falls on a Sunday, it is a ″Jubilee″ year (an Año Santo Jubilar Compostelano or Año Santo Jacobeo) and a special east door is opened for entrance into Santiago Cathedral. Jubilee years fall every 5, 6, and 11 years. In the 2004 Jubilee year, 179,944 pilgrims received a Compostela. In 2010 the number had risen to 275,135.