Christ had named the Apostles James and his brother John, the Sons of Thunder and by the early medieval period James had acquired another name: Santiago Matamoros.

Castor and Pollux were the sons of Jupiter, known as the Thunderer, thereby they also, were designated The Sons of Thunder.

In ancient mythology Castor descended from heaven astride a white horse to become protector of man and slayer of his enemies in battle. Castor and Pollux were venerated in Roman Spain.

In 844, a generation after the discovery of the tomb of Saint James at Compostela, the caliph of Cordoba, Abd al-Rahman ordered a punitive raid on the Christians of the north. The Christian king Ramiro 1st met the large Saracen army on the plain below the castle at Clavijo.

clavijo-by-arbego1In a dream before the battle, Saint James appeared to Ramiro, predicting his victory. During the course of the ensuing battle a figure on a white horse was seen leading the Christian charge. It was the Apostle himself.

Henceforth, Saint James made visionary appearances during the great battle of the Reconquista leading the Christian forces to victory.

He was named Santiago Matamoros – the Moorslayer. Cathedral Compostela Santiago MatamorosVisions of the saint on a white charger occurred at Clavijo in 9th century, Simanacas in 10th, Coimbra in 11th and Las Navas de Tolosa 1212. When the reconquest was completed in 1492, Ferdinand & Isabella gave thanks at the shrine at Compostela.

In one of the miracles recorded in the Codex of Calixtus the following story is recounted: A Greek bishop rebuked some soldiers for praying to St James for military assistance. That night he dreamed of St James dressed as a crusader ready for battle.

“Blessed James appeared, clad in white garments, bearing the arms of a warrior, shining with radiance and arrayed as a soldier, holding in his hand two keys. Then he made this position even clearer in words, ‘I am appearing to you so that you will not doubt that God has made me a soldier and a contender and sent me to fight for the Christians against the Saracens and to gain victory for them”.


  1. Jacob the fisherman evolved into the archetypal hero of Western culture. From Sant’ Iago Matamoros (killer of the Moors) to Sant’ Iago Mataindios (killer of Indians) – and in a complete about turn,to Sant’ Iago Mataespañois (killer of Spaniards) – everyone wanted him as their hero!
    In Mexico City there is a carving from the altarpiece of the Church of Santiago Tlatelolco showing him as Santiago Mataindios – the Indian-slayer.
    And although Christianity and the Catholic religion were taken to the Americas by the Spaniards, when Mexico fought to obtain its independence from Spain in 1810, Sant’ Iago was exalted as Santiago Mataespañois – the slayer of Spaniards!
    In Peru, during an indigenous uprising in 19th-century they adopted Santiago as their champion, using the “Matamoros” iconography of “Santiago Mataespañois” that in Peru had come to be associated with a pre-Columbian deity who drove out evil forces.
    There is a mid-19thC silver statue of Santiago Mataespañois in the Museum of Pilgrimages in Santiago de Compostela.

    and another one – scroll down to under Ano 1998 – (as well as pictures of items from the museum) here:

    You can see the altarpiece of Santiago Mataindios here (click on the photo to enlarge it)

    You can see paintings of Santiago Matamoros and Mataindios together here:

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