James, son of Zebedee
|James the Greater or the Great|
|Apostle and martyr|
|Born||1st century AD
Bethsaida, Judaea, Roman Empire
Jerusalem, Judaea, Roman Empire
|Honored in||All Christianity|
|Major shrine||Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia (Spain), Cathedral of St. James, Jerusalem, Armenian Quarter (Israel)|
|Feast||25 July (Western Christianity)
30 April (Eastern Christianity)
30 December (Hispanic Church)
|Attributes||Scallop, Pilgrim's hat|
Acoma Pueblo, Sahuayo, Santiago de Querétaro, Galicia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Guayaquil, Spain, etc.
Veterinarians, equestrians, furriers, tanners, pharmacists
James, son of Zebedee (Greek Ἰάκωβος, from Hebrew/Aramaic Yaʿqob; died 44 AD) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and traditionally considered the first apostle to be martyred. He was a son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of John the Apostle. He is also called James the Greater or James the Great to distinguish him from James, son of Alphaeus. James the Greater is the patron saint of Spain.
In the New Testament
The son of Zebedee and Salome, James is styled "the Greater" to distinguish him from the Apostle James "the Less", who was probably shorter of stature. We know nothing of St. James's early life. He was the brother of John, the beloved disciple, and probably the elder of the two.
His parents seem to have been people of means. Zebedee was a fisherman of the Lake of Galilee, who probably lived in or near Bethsaida, perhaps in Capharnaum; and had some boatmen or hired men. Salome was one of the pious women who afterwards followed Christ and "ministered unto him of their substance". And his brother John was personally known to the high-priest; and must have had wherewithal to provide for the Mother of Jesus.
It is probable that his brother had not received the technical training of the rabbinical schools; in this sense they were unlearned and without any official position among the Jews. But, according to the social rank of their parents, they must have been men of ordinary education, in the common walks of Jewish life. They had frequent opportunity of coming in contact with Greek life and language, which were already widely spread along the shores of the Galilean Sea.
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 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 sword. He is the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in the New Testament. He is, thus, traditionally believed to be the first of the twelve apostles martyred for his faith. [Acts 12:1-2] Nixon suggests that this may have been caused by James' 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."
Saint James is the patron saint of Spain and, according to legend, his remains are held in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. The traditional pilgrimage to the grave of the saint, known as the "Way of St. James", has been the most popular pilgrimage for Western European Catholics from the Early Middle Ages onwards. 125,141 pilgrims registered in 2008 as having completed the final 100 km walk (200 km by bicycle) to Santiago to qualify for a Compostela. When 25 July falls on a Sunday, it is a ″Jubilee″ year, and a special east door is opened for entrance into the Santiago Cathedral. Jubilee years fall every 5, 6, and 11 years. In the 2004 Jubilee year, 179,944 pilgrims received a Compostela.
The feast day of St. James is celebrated on 25 July on the liturgical calendars of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and certain Protestant churches. He is commemorated on 30 April in the Orthodox Christian liturgical calendar (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 30 April currently falls on 13 May of the modern Gregorian Calendar).
According to ancient local tradition, on 2 January AD 40, the Virgin Mary appeared to James on the bank of the Ebro River at Caesaraugusta, while he was preaching the Gospel in Iberia. She appeared upon a pillar, Nuestra Señora del Pilar, and that pillar is conserved and venerated within the present Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, in Zaragoza, Spain. Following that apparition, St. James returned to Judea, where he was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I in the year 44.
The 12th-century Historia Compostellana commissioned by bishop Diego Gelmírez provides a summary of the legend of St. James as it was believed at Compostela. Two propositions are central to it: first, that St. James preached the gospel in Iberia as well as in the Holy Land; second, that after his martyrdom at the hands of Herod Agrippa his disciples carried his body by sea to Iberia, where they landed at Padrón on the coast of Galicia, and took it inland for burial at Santiago de Compostela.
The translation of his relics from Judea to Galicia in the northwest of Iberia was affected, in legend, by a series of miraculous happenings: decapitated in Jerusalem with a sword by Herod Agrippa himself, his body was taken up by angels, and sailed in a rudderless, unattended boat to Iria Flavia in Iberia, where a massive rock closed around his relics, which were later removed to Compostela.
An even later tradition states that he miraculously appeared to fight for the Christian army during the battle of Clavijo, and was henceforth called Matamoros (Moor-slayer). Santiago y cierra España ("St. James and strike for Spain") has been the traditional battle cry of Spanish armies.
St. James the Moorslayer, one of the most valiant saints and knights the world ever had ... has been given by God to Spain for its patron and protection.
A similar miracle is related about San Millán. The possibility that a cult of James was instituted to supplant the Galician cult of Priscillian (executed in 385) who was widely venerated across the north of Iberia as a martyr at the hands of the bishops rather than as a heretic should not be overlooked. This was cautiously raised by Henry Chadwick in his book on Priscillian; it is not the traditional Roman Catholic view. The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1908, however, states:
Although the tradition that James founded an apostolic see in Iberia was current in the year 700, no certain mention of such tradition is to be found in the genuine writings of early writers nor in the early councils; the first certain mention we find in the ninth century, in Notker, a monk of St. Gall (Martyrologia, 25 July), Walafrid Strabo (Poema de XII Apostoli), and others.
The tradition was not unanimously admitted afterwards, while numerous modern scholars, following Louis Duchesne, reject it. The Bollandists however defended it (their Acta Sanctorum, July, VI and VII, gives further sources). The suggestion began to be made from the 9th century that, as well as evangelizing in Iberia, his body may have been brought to Compostela. No earlier tradition places the burial of St. James in Hispania. A rival tradition places the relics of the apostle in the church of St. Saturnin at Toulouse; if any physical relics were ever involved, they might plausibly have been divided between the two.
The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) registered several "difficulties" or bases for doubts of this tradition, beyond the late appearance of the legend:
James suffered martyrdom[Acts 12:1-2] in AD 44. According to the tradition of the early Church, he had not yet left Jerusalem at this time. St Paul, however, in his Epistle to the Romans written after AD 44, expressed his intention to avoid "building on someone else's foundation",[Rom. 15:20] by visiting Spain[Rom. 15:23][15:24], suggesting that he knew of previous evangelization in Hispania.
The tradition at Compostela placed the discovery of the relics of the saint in the time of king Alfonso II (791-842) and of bishop Theodemir of Iria. These traditions were the basis for the pilgrimage route that began to be established in the 9th century, and the shrine dedicated to James at Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia in Spain, became the most famous pilgrimage site in the Christian world. The Way of St. James is a tree of routes that cross Western Europe and arrive at Santiago through Northern Spain. Eventually James became the patron saint of Spain.
The English name "James" comes from Italian "Giacomo", a variant of "Giacobo" derived from Iacobus (Jacob) in Latin, itself from the Greek Ἰάκωβος. In French, Jacob is translated "Jacques". In eastern Spain, Jacobus became "Jacome" or "Jaime"; in Catalunya, it became Jaume, in western Iberia it became "Iago", from Hebrew יַעֲקֹב, which when prefixed with "Sant" became "Santiago" in Portugal and Galicia; "Tiago" is also spelled "Diego", which is also the Spanish name of Saint Didacus of Alcalá.
James' emblem was the scallop shell (or "cockle shell"), and pilgrims to his shrine often wore that symbol on their hats or clothes. The French for a scallop is coquille St. Jacques, which means "cockle (or mollusk) of St. James". The German word for a scallop is Jakobsmuschel, which means "mussel (or clam) of St. James"; the Dutch word is Jacobsschelp, meaning "shell of St. James".
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (September 2013)|
James had a special place in the Central African Kingdom of Kongo because of his association with the founding of Christianity in the country in the late 15th century. Portuguese sailors and diplomats brought the saint to Kongo when they first reached the country in 1483. When King Afonso I of Kongo whose Kongo name was Mvemba a Nzinga, the second Christian king, was facing a rival, his brother Mpanzu a Kitima, in battle, he reported that a vision of Saint James and the Heavenly Host appeared in the sky, frightened Mpanzu a Kitima's soldiers, and gave Afonso the victory. As a result, he declared that Saint James' feast day (25 July) be celebrated as a national holiday.
Over the years, Saint James day became the central holiday of Kongo. Taxes were collected on that day, and men eligible for military duty were required to appear armed. There were usually regional celebrations as well as one at the capital. In some cases, Kongolese slaves carried the celebration to the New World, and there are still celebrations of Saint James Day in Haiti and Puerto Rico.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) teaches that James has been resurrected and that in 1829 he—along with the resurrected Peter and the translated John—visited Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and restored the priesthood authority with apostolic succession to earth.
- Camerlynck, Achille. "St. James the Greater." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 16 Jan. 2014
- Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36.
- R. E. Nixon, "Boanerges," in J. D. Douglas (ed.), The New Bible Dictionary (London: The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1963), 1354.
- F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of the Acts (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 251.
- Chadwick, Henry (1976), Priscillian of Avila, Oxford University Press
- Fletcher, Richard A. (1984), Saint James's Catapult : The Life and Times of Diego Gelmírez of Santiago de Compostela, Oxford University Press
- Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis, VI; Apollonius, quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History V.xviii)
- Doctrine and Covenants 27:12.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint James the Greater.|
- "St. James the Great, Apostle", Butler's Lives of the Saints
- The Life, Miracles and Martyrdom of St. James the Great: Apostle and Martyr of the Christian Church
- The Way of St. James Guide for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela following St. James's footsteps.
- R. A. Fletcher, Saint James's Catapult: The Life and Times of Diego Gelmírez of Santiago de Compostela Oxford University Press, 1984: chapter 3, "The Early History of the Cult of St. James"
- Apostle James the Brother of St John the Theologian Orthodox icon and synaxarion