Las Fiestas de Santiago Apostol
"Loíza is a town steeped in tradition. It has roots that combine Spanish culture and traditions with African culture, and meld them into a unique Puerto Rican experience.
One of the most colorful examples of this would be the annual Fiestas Tradicionales en Honor a Santiago Apóstol (traditional festivities to honor Saint James) in Loíza. It is a multi-day event that occurs around July 25, the feast day of Saint James.
Expect lots of colorful parades, dance shows, music (traditional bomba along with newer stuff), and tables/kiosks selling crafts and traditional food.
Saint James, one of the 12 apostles, is the patron saint of Christian Spanish military, having helped them conquer the pagan Moors. His apparition is said to have appeared in both Spain and Loíza, so both have adopted Saint James as their patron saint. Spain and Puerto Rico have similar celebrations for the feast day of Saint James.
Apparently, there are three images (statues) of Saint James that play a role in the traditional celebrations: Santiago de los Hombres (Saint James of the Men), Santiago de las Mujeres (Saint James of the Women), and Santiago de los Niños (Saint James of the Children). Each image is honored on a specific day during the multi-day long celebration.
Each of these statues are guarded at specific private homes throughout the year (called mantenedores) and, the night before the feast day, they lead a procession through town from the Church.
On July 24, the statue of Santiago de los Hombres is carried in procession to Saint Patrick Church (Iglesia San Patrício) in town. And then there is a Mass
On July 25, there is a procession of the “Loicenos Ausentes” from the Herrera Bridge to the Public Plaza in town.
On July 26, the statue of Santiago de los Hombres is carried in procession to Saint James Church (in the Medianía Alta neighborhood). This procession includes the traditional running of the flags carried by horsemen. Then it is returned to the house of the mantenedor. The Procession with the statue of Santiago de las Mujeres goes toward St Patrick’s Church.
On July 27, the procession takes the statue of Santiago de las Mujeresfrom town to the mantenedor’s house in the Medianía Alta neighborhood.
On July 28, the statue of Santiago de los Niños is carried from town to the mantenedor’s house in the Medianía Alta neighborhood."