Saint James the Greater Facts

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Facts of Apostle James the Greater

St James the Greater facts, the disciple made us understand that St James is one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He is called ‘the Greater to distinguish him from James the Less‘, another Apostle. He was the first Apostle to be martyred, when Herod Agrippa ordered his death, about AD 44.

The saints of the Christian church can often be identified by a device, known as their attribute. Here St James holds a pilgrim’s staff with a drinking bottle attached. He is usually depicted as a pilgrim and often wears a hat with a cockleshell attached.

In the medieval period, the story of St James was greatly embellished. In northern Spain, a legend developed that he had travelled to the coast of Galicia to convert the local population. After he was martyred in Jerusalem, his servant brought his body back to Galicia by sea.

  • As the boat approached the shore, a startled horse threw its rider to the ground, and the man drowned. The servant prayed, and miraculously the man emerged alive from the water, covered in cockleshells, hence James’s shell.

    In the early 9th century the bishop of the area claimed that God had told him where to find the body of St James. He built a church on the site. By the 11th century, Santiago de Compostela was a major pilgrimage destination; it still attracts thousands every year. Saints were often thought of as protectors, and the possession of relics of an important one was to be ensured of divine protection

The Story and History

Apostle James the Greater Logo
Emblem Saint James the Greater

The story and history of Saint James the Greater, who was one of the disciples of Jesus. James was prominent amongst the twelve apostles. He was James, the son of Zebedee, who was considered the greater apostle of those called James.

James thought to be a cousin of Jesus, by the sister of the Virgin Mary, and the brother of Saint Jude Thaddeus. James worked as a fisherman with his brother John, his father Zebedee, and his partner Simon. John and James were followers of John the Baptist and then Jesus.

John the Baptist referred to Jesus with the words “Behold the Lamb of God!”. He left his life as a fisherman when Jesus called him to be a fisher of men.

One of the facts is that he followed Jesus as one of his disciples until Jesus was crucified. James was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles and was given the mission to spread the gospel of Jesus.

He made a pilgrimage to Spain to spread the word. St James returned to Judea, where he was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I (10 BC – 44 AD) in the year 44. This is detailed in the Bible in Acts 12 of the New Testament. The remains, or relics, of Saint James the Greater, are said to be buried in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Spain) explaining why Saint James is the patron saint of Spain

The Legend of St James the Greater

St James the Greater facts, or according to the Spanish form of his name, St Lago, is also the great military patron of Spain. His mission to defend the Christian Church against invaders was however reserved until after his death.

During the celebrated battle of Clavijo, he suddenly appeared on a milk-white charger, waving aloft a white standard, and leading the Christians to victory.

This manifestation was in response to the soldiers’ invocation of his name, “Saint Lago!” as the battle cry of that day. Hence, the name of the ancient city (Santiago) which is where the cathedral was founded in his honour

Author of Book of James

St James the Greater facts solves the issue that some people confuse the Apostle James as the author of the Book of James but that James was the half-brother of Jesus who only professed faith in Christ after Jesus rose from the dead.

By the time that Book of James was written, and it appears to be the first book written in the New Testament around 45 AD, James the son of Zebedee had already lost his life.

Only a few of the apostles wrote books in the New Testament and James the son of Zebedee was not one of them, however, his brother, the Apostle John, wrote five books; the Gospel of John, 1st, 2nd, 3rd John, and of course the Book of Revelation although the actual author was Jesus Christ (Rev 1:1)

Apostle James Symbol

One of the facts is that James, also known as James the son of Zebedee, was one of Jesus’ inner circle in the gospels. Along with Peter and his brother, John, James was a witness to Jesus’ transfiguration and many other events that Jesus showed only to the three.

Tradition has it that James travelled widely to preach the gospel, going as far as Spain. One of his symbols, the shell, comes from the legend that these shells were numerous on the shore on which James arrived in Spain. He has a couple of other common symbols.

The sword indicates how he was killed by King Herod, recorded in Acts 12. A travelling stick also points to his extensive journeys.

The Feast Day of St James

St James facts tell us that the Feast Day of St James the Greater is July 25th and is widely celebrated in Spain, especially in Santiago de Compostela, where they hold a firework display at the end of a two-week celebration.

When the Feast of St James falls on a Sunday that year will be a Camino Holy Year, also known as a Year of Compostela, or Jacobean Year. During these years visitors to the Cathedral in Santiago can receive a plenary indulgence.

St James the Greater facts
Saint James the Greater

Apostle James Actions

James, along with his brother John, is portrayed in the gospels as perhaps being more important than most of the other apostles. He was present at the resurrection of Jarius’s daughter, at Jesus’s transfiguration, and at the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus was arrested. Other than a few references to him in the New Testament, however, we have no information about who James was or what he did.

The Origin of Feast Days

Most saints have specially designated feast days that are associated with a specific day of the year. The feast days first arose from the very early Christian custom of the annual commemoration of martyrs on the dates of their deaths at the same time celebrating their birth into heaven

Prayer to Saint James The Apostle

Prayer St James the Greater
O Glorious St. James, because of your fervor and generosity Jesus chose you to witness his glory on the Mount and his agony in the Garden. Obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending struggles of this life. Help us to follow Christ constantly and generously, to be victors over all our difficulties, and to receive the crown of glory in heaven. Amen

St James the Greater Conclusion

St James the Greater facts state that James is the elder brother of John. He is a rather quiet part of the team of disciples in that we don’t read much about him in Scripture.

As part of Jesus’ “inner three” he was permitted to be present along with Peter and John when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37), he witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 17:1), and he was in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus. (Mark 14:33)

James was the first disciple to be martyred (he was beheaded) and the only disciple to have their martyrdom recorded in Scripture. (Acts 12:1-3)

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