A rich symbol, with a rich history.

If you have visited Saint James Catholic Church in recent years, you will certainly have noticed the decorative motif of a seashell which is repeated on our altar rail as well as our ambo.  You may have wondered about the significance of this symbol. 

Shortly after the restoration of our church and with the launch of a new website, we have commissioned the design of a new parish logo which incorporates the scallop shell and the cross of Santiago. 

Ambo
Scallop Shell Motif on the Ambo

Here is a brief description for your consideration:  Our primary Patron, Saint James the Greater, was among the 12 apostles chosen by Our Lord, Jesus Christ, to carry the message of Salvation to the ends of the earth. 

After Jesus' Ascension, Saint James did, in fact, travel to Spain to bring the Good News.  After his martyrdom in Jerusalem, his relics were translated (relocated) to northwest Spain and buried in the region of Galicia.  Over the years, their whereabouts became obscured, and were relatively unremarkable except to a few locals. 

In the early middle ages, as travel to the Holy Land became more dangerous, European Christians began seeking other pilgrimage destinations.  At that time, a series of miraculous events took place which led to the re-discovery of the tomb of Saint James, and Christians began to make pilgrimage to his tomb from all parts of Europe. 

At this point, the scallop shell became a symbol of the pilgrimage or Camino to Santiago (a Spanish rendering of "Sancte Iacobus" or "Saint James") as paths from all over Europe would converge on a central point resemble the way several channels on the surface of the scallop shell are united in a single point.  To this day, the milestones along the various footpaths leading to Santiago incorporate the scallop shell which has become associated with our parish patron, Saint James.  

Altar Rail
Scallop Shell  Motif on the Altar Rail

The cross of Santiago, which is superimposed upon the shell in our logo, was used by the military religious order which had been founded to provide protection and assistance to pilgrims on the Camino.  

This is an appropriate logo for our parish not only because of the clear allusion to our patron, but because it also symbolizes the various ministries, apostolates and organizations in our parish, which have a single common destination and purpose - our sanctification in the cross of Christ, specifically through the action of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  

Watch for this logo to be used on our bulletin cover and parish stationery, and incorporated into a new crest for Saint James Catholic School. 

Fr. Totton on the Camino de Santiago
Fr. Totton walking the Camino de Santiago

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