What is the origin of the name Santiago? And its meaning?

We tell you everything about one of the names that you will hear the most during the pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.

Santiago el Mayor | Wikicommons

Santiago el Mayor | Wikicommons

Have you ever wondered, whether or not as a pilgrim, what is the origin of the name Santiago? By now you will know that it is about one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and some other detail belonging to the history of this historical character; but behind Santiago there is a most interesting origin, with a meaning that will surprise many.

Origin of the name Santiago

The origin of the name Santiago belongs to the Hebrew 'Yaakov', which is the same, Jacob. In the Christian tradition, Santiago is one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ; but he is also known as Santiago el Mayor to distinguish him from another apostle of the same name, Santiago el Menor.

Santiago el Mayor is considered the patron saint of Spain, and it is believed that he is buried in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the final destination of the Camino de Santiago for thousands of pilgrims year after year.

James the Greater became one of the first disciples of Jesus, and one of the three closest apostles along with Peter and John. After the crucifixion, James became one of the main leaders of the early church, preaching the gospel in Spain and dying a martyr in Jerusalem in AD 44.

Catedral de Santiago | Wikicommons. Autor: Archivaldo

Catedral de Santiago | Wikicommons. Autor: Archivaldo

After his death, his remains were moved to Galicia, specifically to the city of Santiago de Compostela. Over the centuries the religious figure and legend of Santiago grew, especially during the Middle Ages. As the story goes, Santiago himself appeared at the Battle of Clavijo, helping the Christians defeat the Muslims.

Meaning of the name Santiago

The name Santiago means Saint James or Saint James in Spanish. Remember when we mentioned that Jacob is the origin of it in Hebrew? Its meaning, taking into account its origin, means 'supported by the heel' or 'supplanter'. In this way, various interpretations ensure that the name of Santiago means 'supplanting saint' or 'saint who relies on God'.

In addition, according to its etymological meaning, the name of Santiago has great historical and religious value, especially in Spain as we have already shown you. In turn, Santiago also has some variants. For example, Jaume in Catalan; Xaime or Xacobe in Galician; Santi or Yakue in Basque; Jacqueline or Jaques in French; James in English; or Russian Iakoben.

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