James, son of Zebedee

James, son of Zebedee


James, son of Zebedee 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 Sea 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” 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.” Veneration 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
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. Spain 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 effected, 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. Santiago y cierra España
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. — Cervantes, Don Quixote A similar miracle is related about San Millán.
The possibility that a cult of James was instituted to supplant the Galician cult of Priscillian
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, Walafrid
Strabo, and others. The tradition was not unanimously admitted
afterwards, while numerous modern scholars, following Louis Duchesne and T. E. Kendrick,
reject it. The Bollandists however defended it. 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 authenticity of the relics at Compostela
was asserted in the Bull of Pope Leo XIII, Omnipotens Deus, of 1 November 1884.
The Catholic Encyclopedia 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 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 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, 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
of St. James”. The German word for a scallop is Jakobsmuschel, which means “mussel of St.
James”; the Dutch word is Jacobsschelp, meaning “shell of St. James”.
The military Order of Santiago, named after James, was founded in Spain in the 12th century
to fight the Moors. Later, as in other orders of chivalry, the membership became a mark
of honor. Kongo 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 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. Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 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. See also
Saint Peter of Rates Way of St. James
Cathedral of St. James St. James’ Church
References External links
“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 History
St. James the Greater, Apostle at the Christian Iconography web site
St. James the Greater from Caxton’s translation of the Golden Legend

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