Saint James the Greater, Apostle, Martyr
(Feast Day 25 July)

Jesus calls Saint James to be an Apostle - by GHIRLANDAIO, Domenico - from Cappella Sistina, Vatican


Feast of Saint James the Greater

Known as Saint James the Greater because he was called to be an Apostle before the other James (James the Less); he was also the older brother of Saint John the Evangelist who were sons of Zebedee and Salome.

He followed his brother John to the shores of the Jordan River where he was called by Jesus to be "fishers of men." James was one of the three privileged Apostles, along with Peter and John, to witness three miraculous events: the healing of Peter's mother-in-law (Matthew 1:29-31), resurrection of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37-43), and the Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:2-8). James was also present in the agony of Garden as one of the few apostles who accompanied Jesus there and fell asleep.

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Our Lady of the Pillar

Jesus affectionately called James a "son of thunder" because of his great flaming love of his soul for the Son of God. James revealed his humanity in Luke 9:51-56 when James impetuously railed about calling down fire from Heaven on the Samaritans because of their lack of faith, and in the famous scene in Mark 10:35 -45 where the two brothers ask Jesus for the privilege of sitting at His right and left side in Heaven.

But after Pentecost all imperfections faded and James went on to preach the Gospel in Samaria and Judea, then traveled a great distance to Spain where he evangelized.

In Zaragosa, Spain around 40 A.D. the Blessed Mother made her first recorded apparition, this before her Assumption, appearing to James in a vision as Our Lady of Pillar, because she stood on a pillar with the angels supporting it.

Her purpose was to summon him back to Jerusalem where he was martyred by beheading at the hands of Herod Agrippa around 43 AD. He was buried in Jerusalem but his relics were transferred to Compostela, Spain in 830 A.D. where they remain today.