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Sunday, January 16, 2011



Very little was saved from the original Saint James Presbyterian Church in Tarzana from the great Northridge earthquake. But, to the San Fernando Valley's good fortune, many of the original windows of the sanctuary were rescued and used when the church was rebuilt.
The Apostle James, sometimes referred to Saint James the Greater possibly due to his height, was martyred. According to legend, his followers took his remains to Roman Spain (Iberia) where his burial site remains a major shrine for Roman Catholics and others such as the Anglican/Episcopal Churches. His statue on the ruined bell tower in Paris points the way for pilgrims to the shrine. Pilgrims who make the journey are rewarded with scallop shells, symbolized in Tarzana by the three shells to the right.
photo by Gerald Fecht for the Archives of The Museum 2011

 The saint depicted in this window may be either St. Mark the Evangelist or St. Bartholomew the
Apostle. The heart like medallion in the icon's hand appears to me to be a winged lion, definitely the sign of Mark (example: Saint Mark's basilica in Venice). But, Mark is almost always shown with an open book or writing instruments.
The Apostle Bartholomew, it is sometimes said, was selected to be among the twelve, after Judas Iscariot killed himself. The martyred saint was flayed, thus accounting for the knife symbol to the icon's right.
The letter T to the left is the Greek letter Tau. It was used very early in the Christian church as a symbol of the cross upon which Jesus was killed. It is still a popular symbol among Eastern Orthodox Christians, and may be a form of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph Ankh, the key of life. 


California Girl said...

I attended St. James Presby from 1957 forward. I sang in the choir and watched it grow. Was the church levelled or structurally unsalvagable after the Northridge quake?

Gerald R. Fecht said...

Only parts of the original church were rescued after the earthquake. The windows,for the most part were salvaged. Unfortunately, the ceiling had asbestos in it and everything in the church was contaminated.
The church today has a small but dedicated congregation, and has just paid off the loans for the rebuilding of the structure. Jerry
If you have early photos, please scan them or send them to The Museum Archives.

Vicky said...

I went to this church in 1959-60. I lived with my aunt and uncle Betta and Bill Speakman on Tampa Avenue near Wells Dr. I went to Wilbur Elementary school 3rd-5th grades. Vicky Valentine