St. James, "The Greater", "Son of Thunder"
Feastday: July 25
Patron: of Pilgrims and Spain
James the Great also known as James, son of Zebedee or as Saint James the Greater (Hebrew: יַעֲקֹב, Yaʿqob; Latin: Iacomus Maximus; Greek: Ἰάκωβος; died 44 AD) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament. James is described as one of the first disciples to join Jesus. The Synoptic Gospels say that James and John were with their father by the seashore when Jesus called them to follow him. Saint James is the patron saint of Spain and, according to tradition, his remains are held in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.
Nothing is known of St. James the Greater's early life, though it has been established that he is the son of Zebedee and Salome and brother of John the disciple.
The title "the Greater" was added to St. James' name to help distinguish him from the Apostle James "the Less," who is believed to have been shorter than James "the Greater."
Saint James the Greater was one of Jesus' first disciples. James was fishing with his father and John the Apostle when Jesus came to the shores of the Sea of Galilee and called for the fisherman, who were unable to catch any fish that day, to dip their nets in the water once again.
When the fishermen followed Jesus' instructions, they found their nets full, and after emptying the fish on board, the boats nearly sank from their weight.
Later, James was one of only three called by Jesus to witness his Transfiguration, and when he and his brother wanted to call fire upon a Samaritan town, both were rebuked by Jesus.
Following Christ's Ascension, James spread the Gospel across Israel and the Roman kingdom as well. He traveled and spread the Word for nearly forty years in Spain.
It is said that one day, as he prayed, The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and asked him to build her a church, which he did.
Later, James returned to Jerusalem but was martyred for his faith by King Herod, who decapitated him. Saint James the Greater is known as the first apostle to die.
As he was not allowed to be buried following his martyrdom, his remains were taken to Compostela, Spain, by some of his followers, who buried him.
In the ninth century his remains were discovered and moved to a tomb in Santiago de Compostela. Today, his remains can still be found in the Cathedral of Santiago.
Because Santiago de Compostela is the most frequently visited place pilgrims migrate to following Rome and Jerusalem, Pope Leo declared it a shrine.
In the New Testament
The son of Zebedee and Salome, James is styled "the Greater" to distinguish him from the Apostle James "the Less", with greater meaning older or taller, rather than more important. He was the brother of John the Apostle.
James is described as one of the first disciples to join Jesus. The Synoptic Gospels state that James and John were with their father by the seashore when Jesus called them to follow him.[Matt. 4:21–22][Mk. 1:19–20] James was one of only three apostles whom Jesus selected to bear witness to his Transfiguration. James and John (or, in another tradition, their mother) asked Jesus to grant them seats on his right and left in his glory. Jesus rebuked them, and the other apostles were annoyed with them. James and his brother wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan town, but were rebuked by Jesus.[Lk 9:51-6]
The Acts of the Apostles records that "Herod the king" (traditionally identified with Herod Agrippa) had James executed by the sword. Nixon suggests that this may have been caused by James's fiery temper, for which he and his brother earned the nickname Boanerges or "Sons of Thunder".[Mark 3:17] F. F. Bruce contrasts this story to that of the Liberation of Saint Peter, and notes that "James should die while Peter should escape" is a "mystery of divine providence".
St. James the Greater Prayer
O glorious Apostle,
St. James, who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart
wast chosen by Jesus to be a witness of His glory on Mount Tabor,
and of His agony in Gethsemane;
thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory:
obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life,
that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus,
we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor's crown in heaven.