July 25 is the feast of St. James, patron saint of Spain.
July 25 is also Galicia Day, which is fitting as St. James is the patron saint of Galicia as well as Spain. According to legend, his remains are held in the Santiago de Compostela cathedral in Galicia.
In 2016, St. James' Day is a regional public holiday in Basque Country, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Navarra.
James was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. Following the ascension of Jesus, the apostles traveled spreading the word of the gospel. James' travels took him to Spain, Initially his sermons were not well received - even being taken prisoner in Grenada. However he was soon released and went on to preach in Galicia.
According to local tradition, in January 40AD, the Virgin Mary appeared to James on the bank of the Ebro River, while he was preaching the Gospel in Iberia. She appeared upon a pillar, which remains today and is venerated within the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, in Zaragoza. She told James to return to Jerusalem once the church had been established.
James went back to Jerusalem in 44AD, as Mary had wished. During the trip back he visited Mary in Ephesus. Mary predicted his death in Jerusalem, and on his return to Jerusalem, he was soon taken prisoner.
He was taken to Calvary, the same place where years before Jesus had been crucified. He was then tied to the rocks, blindfolded and beheaded.
The body of James was taken by his disciples back to Galicia. His remains re said to be buried in the cathedral in Galicia.
Popularised in the ninth century, many pilgrims from across Europe, walk the "Camino de Santiago" (way of St. James) which leads them to the saint's tomb, to ask pardon for their sins.
Today, pilgrims still arrive at the Cathedral for the holy Feast Day of St James. On the eve of the Feast day, a spectacular show of fireworks, music and lasers illuminate the cathedral.