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FEAST - A Saint for the Day (July 25): St. James the Great


John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>


medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>


Mon, 25 Jul 2016 07:18:27 +0000





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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

James (d. ca. 42) and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee, were Galilean fisherman along with Simon Peter.  They are prominent in gospel accounts of Jesus' ministry and always come early in lists of the Twelve Apostles.  According to Acts 12:1-2, James was martyred on the orders of Herod Agrippa I (reigned, 41-44).  The legend that he had evangelized parts of Spain is at least as old as the seventh century.  In the early ninth century James' sepulchre was "discovered" in Galicia at what is now Santiago de Compostela.  As is evidenced by its mention in the martyrology of Florus of Lyon (808-830), word of this event spread quickly.  By the tenth century people from abroad were making pilgrimages to his shrine and James was on his way to becoming a patron saint of pilgrims.  He is frequently represented in art with a pilgrim's hat and staff, often too with the seashell that was the special badge of those returning from Compostela.

In Latin-rite churches and in others whose sanctoral calendars have been influenced by those of the Roman Rite today (25. July) is James' feast day.  Byzantine-rite churches celebrate him on 30. April. 

Some period-pertinent images of St. James the Great:

a) as depicted in the very late fifth- or early sixth-century mosaics (betw. 494 and 519) in the Cappella Arcivescovile in Ravenna: 



b) as depicted (at center) in the earlier sixth-century mosaics (betw. 527 and 548) of the basilica di San Vitale in Ravenna: 



c) as depicted (fourth from left) in the earlier to mid-sixth-century mosaics of the presbytery arch (carefully restored, 1890-1900) in the Basilica Eufrasiana in Poreč: 



d) as portrayed in relief (at far left) on a leaf of the mid-tenth-century ivory Harbaville Triptych in the Musée du Louvre in Paris: 


e) as depicted (martyrdom) in the late tenth- or very early eleventh-century so-called Menologion of Basil II (Città del Vaticano, BAV, cod. Vat. gr. 1613, p. 185):



f) as depicted in the earlier eleventh-century mosaics (restored betw. 1953 and 1962) in the narthex of the church of the Theotokos in the monastery of Hosios Loukas near Distomo in Phokis: 


g) as depicted (bottom register at far right; after St. Paul) in the mid-twelfth-century mosaics (ca. 1143) of the chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (a.k.a. chiesa della Martorana) in Palermo: 



h) as depicted (lower register, center) in the mid-twelfth-century apse mosaics (completed in 1148) of the basilica cattedrale della Trasfigurazione in Cefalù: 


i) as portrayed in high relief by Master Mateo on the trumeau of the later twelfth-century Pórtico de la Gloria (betw. 1168 and 1188) in the catedral de Santiago in Santiago de Compostela:


j) as portrayed in relief (second from left; after St. Jude Thaddeus) by Anselmo da Campione in his Last Supper panel on the later twelfth-century parapet (_pontile_; ca. 1170-1180) in the cattedrale di San Geminiano in Modena: 


k) as depicted in the later twelfth-century Ascension fresco (betw. 1176 and 1200) in St. George's Church in Staraya Ladoga (Leningrad oblast): 


l) as portrayed in relief on the late twelfth-century portal (ca. 1190-1200) of the basilique primatiale Saint-Trophime in Arles: 



m) as depicted in one of four panels of a full-page illumination in the late twelfth-century so-called Bible of Saint Bertin (ca. 1190-1200; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 5, fol. 26v, sc. 2A):



n) as depicted (upper right, after St. Andrew) in the late twelfth- or very early thirteenth-century wooden altar frontal of Baltarga in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona: 


o) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Peter) in a thirteenth-century fresco in Matera's rupestrian church of San Giovanni in Monterrone: 


p) as portrayed in relief in an earlier thirteenth-century enameled copper repoussé plaque of Limousin origin (ca. 1220-1230) from the high altar of the abbey church of Grandmont, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: 


q) as portrayed in relief on the mid-thirteenth-century châsse of St. Eleutherius in the cathedral of Tournai / Doornik: 


r) as depicted (at right; at right, St. Thomas the Apostle) in the mid-thirteenth-century Carrow Psalter from East Anglia (Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, Walters ms. W.34, fol. 5v): 


s) as depicted in the late thirteenth-century Livre d'images de Madame Marie (ca. 1285-1290; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 66r): 


t) as depicted (martyrdom; image greatly expandable) in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the _Legenda aurea_ (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 81v): 


u) as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century glass window panel (ca. 1301-1325; probably from the château of Rouen) in the Musée National du Moyen Age (Musée de Cluny) in Paris:


v) as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century glass window panel (ca. 1301-1325; from Seligenthal Abbey in Landshut) in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich:


w) as depicted (bas-de-page; martyrdom) in the early fourteenth-century Queen Mary Psalter (ca. 1310-1320; London, BL, Royal MS 2 B VII, fol. 258r):



x) as depicted (martyrdom) in an earlier fourteenth-century French-language legendary of Parisian origin with illuminations attributed to the Fauvel Master (ca. 1327; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 183, fol. 34v): 


y) as depicted by the workshop of Simone Martini in an early fourteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1317-1320) in the National Gallery of Art in Washington: 


z) as depicted by Andrea di Vanni d'Andrea in a mid-fourteenth-century panel painting (betw. 1355 and 1360) in the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte in Naples: 


Detail view: 


aa) as depicted in a mid-fourteenth-century copy, from the workshop of Richard and Jeanne de Montbaston, of the _Legenda aurea_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (1348; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 169v): 


bb) as portrayed in relief (third from right) on the late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century tomb of St. Wendelin in his basilica in Sankt Wendel: 


cc) as depicted (martyrdom) in a late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century copy of the _Legenda aurea_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Rennes, Bibliothèque de Rennes Métropole, ms. 266, fol. 177r):


dd) as portrayed in relief in a fifteenth-century English alabaster in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London: 


ee) as depicted by Martino da Verona (attrib.) in an early fifteenth-century fresco in the chiesa di San Giacomo del in Vago di Lavagno (VR) in the Veneto: 


ff) as depicted (martyrdom) in an earlier fifteenth-century _Bible historiale_ (ca. 1430; Den Haag, KB, ms. KB, 78 D 38 II, fol. 213r):


gg) as depicted in an earlier fifteenth-century fresco (ca. 1440) in Ballerup kirke, Ballerup (Sjælland): 


hh) as portrayed (at right; at left, St. Boniface of Mainz) in a polychromed and gilt wooden statue in a later fifteenth-century winged altarpiece of the BVM in the Hohhaus-Museum in Lauterbach (Lkr. Vogelsbergkreis) in Hessen:


ii) as depicted by Cosmè Tura in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1475; from a dismembered altarpiece) in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Caen: 


jj) as portrayed in a later fifteenth-century limestone statue (betw. 1475 and 1500) of Burgundian origin in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: 


kk) as depicted (at upper left) by Hans Memling on one of the wings (closed position) of his later fifteenth-century St. John Altarpiece (completed ca. 1479) in the Memlingmuseum in the Sint-Janshospitaal in Bruges: 


Detail view: 


ll) as depicted (at left; at right, St. John the Evangelist) by Miguel Ximénez and workshop in panels of his and Martín Bernad's late fifteenth-century altarpiece of the Holy Cross (completed, 1487) for the parish church of Blesa (Teruel) and now, after dismemberment, mostly in the Museo de Zaragoza:


mm) as portrayed by Gil de Siloe in a late fifteenth-century alabaster statue (ca. 1489–1493) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: 


nn) as portrayed by the Master of Elsloo in a late fifteenth- or earlier sixteenth-century wooden statue (oak; ca. 1490-1550) in the Kerk Sint-Lambertus in Neeroeteren (prov. Limburg):


oo) as portrayed in a very late fifteenth- or very early sixteenth-century wooden statue of north German origin in Hasslövs kyrka, Hasslöv (Hallands län): 


Detail view:


pp) as portrayed (third from left) in the very late fifteenth- or very early sixteenth-century statues of the apostles (betw. 1498 and 1509) in the south porch of the chapelle St.-Herbot in Saint-Herbot, a locality of  Plonévez-du-Faou (Finistère): 


qq) as portrayed (seated) in an early sixteenth-century polychromed wooden statue (betw. 1501 and 1515) in the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin: 




John Dillon


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