Saint James the Greater

His feast day is 30 april or 25 july

depending on where in the world you are


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 fishermen, 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, Jesus rebuked both.

Following Christ's Ascension, James spread the Gospel across Israel and the Roman kingdom as well. He travelled 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.

St James' relics were discovered sometime between 791 CE and 842 CE. 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 was the most frequently visited place pilgrims migrate after Rome and Jerusalem, Pope Leo XIII asserted that the relics of St James at Compostela were authentic in a papal bull, thus declaring it a shrine. This papal bull was published on November 1, 1884.

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.

Read about a parishioners story of walking part of the Camino Francais to Santiago de Compostela by clicking on the picture to the right