Today we welcome Bishop Stephen Conway from Ely, England, to worship with us and preach as we celebrate our saint’s day. Welcome Bishop Stephen!
Our church is named for St. James’ the Greater (apparently he was taller than the other James who followed Jesus). James was a fisherman with his brother John before becoming a disciple of Jesus. Is that where the scallop shell comes from you ask? No. James was not fishing for scallops as they were considered ritually unclean for Jews.
So what’s with all the scallop shells? Well, many of you will know that following his martyrdom in Jerusalem, James’ remains were taken west to Spain to a region called Galicia. Santiago de Compostela (more commonly referred to as Santiago) is the capital and where the shrine of St. James can be found.
Are they famous for scallops there then? Well kind of. The scallop shell became the symbol of the Camino de Santiago (the way of St. James) because the many lines on the shell symbolize the many routes that pilgrims took to journey to the shrine.
There is one story that explains the scallop shell that goes like this: As “…the boat containing his (James) body approached the coast, a wedding was taking place with a bridegroom on horseback. Upon seeing the boat, the horse spooked and bolted into the sea.” Another variation of the tale has a knight falling from a cliff as the boat with the saint’s body passed by. In either case, the saint intervened, saving the knight — or the bridegroom, still on horseback — who emerged from the sea covered in scallop shells.*
Truth or myth, the shell is now commonly associated with St. James and you can find it in several places in our church building.
I hope that you will join us to celebrate St. James the Greater, St. Anglican James Church, where we gather and worship together the one who James followed and proclaimed: Jesus the Christ who lived, died and rose again, the One that still brings us together here in Vancouver, over 2000 years later.
St. James was an evangelist. His actions brought people to Christ. On Sunday after High Mass, we will continue our celebration with a meal and you will be able to see how our faith has been put into action. I’ll see you then.
Accessed 19, July 2017