SAINT JAMES THE GREATER (?-c.44), Apostle and martyr – Patron saint of Compostela, Spain, pharmacists, equestrians, laborers, and those suffering from arthritis and rheumatism
Today, the universal Church celebrates the Feast of Saint James, Apostle and brother of Saint John the Evangelist. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and was called together with his brother to follow our Lord –
“[Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee] and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him” (Matthew 4:21-22).
James was called “the Greater” to distinguish him from the other Apostle named James “the Lesser”, possibly due to the fact that the first James (John’s brother) was older, taller or he was chosen first.
James, along with his brother John, and together with Peter, were part of the inner circle of Jesus, who witnessed the Transfiguration. They were witnesses to certain of His miracles, including the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and who also accompanied our Lord to witness the agony He endured while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Like his brother, James was active in the work of evangelization after the death of Jesus. There is one tradition which asserts that James the Greater preached the Gospel in Spain. And upon his return to Judea, James was arrested due to his prominence among those who followed Christ. He won the crown of martyrdom about the year 44 by orders of King Herod Agrippa I –
“About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a).
James’ death is the only Biblical record we have of the death of one of the Apostles, and he was the first of that specially chosen group to give his life for his Master, in fulfillment of the prophesy our Lord made many years earlier, “‘Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We can.’ He replied, ‘My cup you will indeed drink’” (Matthew 20:22b-23a).
Saint James is especially honored at Compostela in Spain where a famous church, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, houses his tomb.
Please see more about Saint James in today’s “Meditation for the Day”.
We commemorate the Feast of Saint James the Greater on July 25.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint James)
“Almighty Father, by the martyrdom of Saint James, You blessed the work of the early Church. May his profession of faith give us courage and his prayers bring us strength.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”