The fraternal order of Sant' Yago, is dedicated to the Brotherhood of the "Caballeros" Royal Order of St. James, has played a powerful role in the history of Spain. It has been an order since well before the ninth century and has moved men to accomplish incredible deeds. The fraternal order of St. James began when St. James, one of the 12 Apostles, came to Spain to preach the Gospel.
The early conversion of Spain to Christianity is attributed to the missionary zeal of St. James, the fisherman, a disciple of Christ. Traveling the length and breadth of Spain, he converted thousands from Paganism to Christianity. He was sommoned to Jerusalem and, at the age of 44, was beheaded by Herod Agrippa.
James' followers and devotees carried his body back to Spain, his adobted land, and laid him to rest in the region of La Coruna, in the province of Galicia, and this became the place of pilgrimage for those early Christians. They came from all over Europe, braving the dangers of travel. To this day, one may follow the "Way of St. James" ("El Camino de Santiago") from France into Spain.
The next 400 years saw Spain suffer under the heavy hand of war. Rome and Carthage swept across the land and it became far too dangerous to be a Christian, let alone make a pilgrimage, so the grave of St. James lay unattended and forgotten. The Moors and Arabs came and Spain was brought to her knees.
Then, the hermit monk in the forest found the lonely grave of St. James in a field ablaze with little stars. Legend has it that he led the village priests to the site and it was confirmed that this was truly the place of St. James burial. The King declared that the church be built on the site and the town of Santiago rose around it.
There, followed 400 years of wars, and in the 12th century, Christian forces were being badly beaten. Defeat seemed inevitable. But, as the story goes, amid the roar and screams of battle, there appeared a vision of St. James, astride a white horse, carrying a flag with a cross emblaxoned on it. The Christian soldiers were suddenly able to overcome impossible odds and delivered a blow to Islam from which it never recovered. St. James (Sant' Yago) became the Patron Saint of Spain.
Once again, pilgrims made the long journey to the grave of St. James at Santiago de Compostela (St. James of the Starry Field). Out of the countryside rode knights in search of adventure. Their sole purpose was the defense of good and right; the knights banded together to afford protection to the pilgrims as they traveled. The people began to speak of the knights of Sant' Yago, and their deeds culminated in the founding of the Royal Order of St. James, "Cofradia de Caballeros de la Orden Real de Sant' Yago." Many famous Spanish explorers were members of the Brotherhood.