(Santiago de Compostela)
3.75 x 2 x 0.88 in
9.53 x 5.08 x 2.22 cm
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
This figurine depicts Saint James the Greater (Santiago) in a pilgrim’s guise, with a wide brimmed hat, a traveling cloak and staff, a rosary, and a scallop shell pinned to his hat. After Christ’s crucifixion, James is believed to have traveled to Spain, literally taking the Gospel to the ends of Earth. Following James’s death in Rome, his body mystically returned to Spain and was buried by his followers. The burial site, Santiago de Compostela, became one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations during the High Middle Ages, along with Rome and Jerusalem.
This small figure is made of jet, a material mined in León that became the substance most utilized in making mementoes of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. As mass-produced objects, statuettes like this one were sold as badges or pendants, signifying for the wearer the completion of the pilgrimage. A strap originally passed through the horizontal hole piercing the core of this figure so that it could be attached to garments or worn as a necklace.