Santiago was the brother of John the Evangelist. Both men were members of a fishing family, when Jesus called them to follow him. Santiago was one of only three people present when Jesus healed Jairus' daughter, when he prayed after the Last Supper, and when he was transfigured on top of Mount Tabor. He also saw Jesus resurrected.
After Jesus' death, Santiago went to spread the Gospel in Israel, Rome, and Spain. Later, when he returned to Jerusalem he was imprisoned by King Herod. During his imprisonment, he was tortured and eventually beheaded, making him the first Apostle to be martyred. Since martyrs were not allowed burial, his followers took his remains back to Spain. There, he was buried in Compostela. Later, King Alphonse II the Chaste named Santiago the patron saint of the Spanish empire.
In the early days, people did not have to perform miracles to become saints. Santiago did not have any miracles attributed to him during his life. After his martyrdom, however, he was credited with fighting the Muslim warriors during the Second Battle of Albelda, appearing on a pure white horse and waving a white battle standard. This gave rise to the cult of San Santiago. To this day, many people follow a pilgrimage to his burial site.
Petitioning San Santiago
Within the Catholic tradition, it is common to ask saints for help interceding with God. In other traditions, the relationship with saints is a bit different. Saints are considered part of the dead who are willing to offer help to the living, but not all saints are happy to do so, and it is not a good idea to expect them to work for free. Some saints will do this, others may not.
When you petition San Santiago, work to develop a relationship with him. It is not a good idea to work with many saints at once, because this makes it more difficult to have a good rapport. Light a San Santiago 7 day prayer candle, and read from a prayer card. Place a statue of San Santiago in a peaceful place in your home, and keep it clean and free of dust. Some people withhold their offerings until their requests are answered, others do not. It is important to remember that, if you make a promise to a saint, you had better keep your word!
As the patron saint of pilgrims, San Santiago can help protect your in your journeys. He was a fisherman, so he is also helpful to workers, fishermen, and laborers. Sometimes, he is petitioned to help with physical illness. When you want to protect your home and family, mop your floors from front to back with San Santiago Bath & Floor Wash. When you want to carry his help with you, say a prayer to him, and put on a little San Santiago cologne before leaving home.
A Prayer to the Saint
There is a very common prayer to San Santiago, asking for strength in the battles of life:
Who, by reason of your fervent and generous heart,
was chosen by Jesus to be a witness of His glory on Mount Tabor,
and of His agony in Gethsemane;
You, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory,
obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life,
that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus,
we may be victors in the strife
and deserve to receive the victor's crown in heaven.
Whether your battles are literal or metaphorical, San Santiago can help you. He was one of Jesus' most trusted companions and the first to die for his faith. Petition him in your time of need, and ask him for strength and protection.