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Saint James on the South Apsidiole,
Church of St. John the Evangelist, Uncastillo, Spain, early 13th Century.


Photo by Don José Prieto

Arrest of Saint James



El absidiolo sur mantiene sus pinturas en un aceptable estado de conservación. Está decorado desde la tercera hilada de sillares hasta la imposta incluyendo columna, capitel y pilastra. Durante tiempo la interpretación de este ciclo pictórico ha sido errónea viendo a Cristo en Majestad en la gran figura que centra el absidiolo.

Ha sido la profesora Carmen Lacarra quien ha puesto luz en este asunto señalando que la figura que centra el absidiolo y a quien se dedica el mismo es el apóstol Santiago el Mayor, patrón de los peregrinos. Aparece al modo en que se le representaba en un principio, antes de mostrarlo como peregrino; es decir: sedente, descalzo, bendiciendo y con el Nuevo Testamento en su mano izquierda. Dos peregrinos le adoran besando sus pies. (Carmen Lacarra Ducay. Enciclopedia del Románico. Fundación Santa María la Real. Zaragoza-Tomo II, Pag. 690-691. 2010)

En los registros superiores, a ambos lados del apóstol aparecen dos grupos de peregrinos compuestos cada uno de ellos por tres personas. En el registro inferior de nuestra izquierda hay una escena de bautismo que corresponde al pasaje narrado en la Leyenda Dorada del bautismo del mago Hermógenes por Santiago el Mayor. Hay una inscripción que reza así: POPUL-US CREDEN(S) (I)HS.

El registro inferior derecho narra la escena del prendimiento y juicio de Santiago el Mayor por Herodes Agripa. Sobre la cabeza del apóstol hay una inscripción dividida que lo señala como IACO-BVS.
Source: romanicoaragones.com
The south apsidiole [small or secondary apse] maintains its paintings in an acceptable state of conservation. It is decorated from the third row of ashlars [finely dressed (cut, worked) stone] to the impost including column, capital and pilaster. Over time the interpretation of this pictorial cycle has been erroneously seen as Christ in Majesty in the large figure that centers the apse.

Professor Carmen Lacarra has been the one who has shed light on this matter, pointing out that the figure that centers the apsidiole and to whom it is dedicated is the Apostle Saint James the Greater, patron saint of pilgrims. He appears in the way he was originally represented, before being shown as a pilgrim; that is to say: seated, barefoot, blessing and with the New Testament in his left hand. Two pilgrims adore him by kissing his feet. (Carmen Lacarra Ducay. Encyclopedia of the Romanesque. Santa María la Real Foundation. Zaragoza-Volume II, pp. 690-691. 2010)

In the upper registers, on both sides of the apostle there are two groups of pilgrims, each composed of three people. In the lower register on our left there is a baptism scene that corresponds to the passage narrated in the Golden Legend of the baptism of the magician Hermogenes by Saint James the Greater. There is an inscription that reads like this: POPUL-US CREDEN (S) (I) HS.

The lower right register narrates the scene of the arrest and trial of Saint James [Jacob] the Greater by Herod Agrippa. Above the apostle's head there is a divided inscription marking him as IACO-BVS.



The soldier with axe is referenced as figure 541 in The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle
541. Fresco, Arrest of St. James-Major, early 13th century AD, Spanish, in situ, Santo Juan Ermita, Uncastillo.

Other Spanish Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers.
13th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers.