Feast (1969 Calendar): July 25
Double of the II Class (1955 Calendar): July 25
Today we celebrate the Feastday of St. James. He is called St. James the Greater in order to distinguish him from the other St. James, who was the author of the Epistle of St. James and another disciple of Our Lord. He is called "the Greater" simply because he became a disciple before the other James. According to some historians and legends, St. James the Greater may have been a cousin to Jesus. However, it is certain that St. James the Greater, who we remember today, was the brother of John and son of Zebedee.
James, John, Peter, and Andrew were all fishermen in Bethsaida, on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Our Lord called to Simon Peter and Andrew and said, "Come after Me and I will make you fishers of men" (Mt. 4:19). And, then Our Lord turned to James the Greater and his brother John, and both of them instantly left their nets and followed Our Lord.
St. James the Greater, along with Peter and John, was one of the few that witnessed Our Lord's Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and Our Lord’s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane before His passion.
And while St. James abandoned Our Lord during His Passion along with the other disciples, he repented and returned to the faith. And, not only that, but he went out and proclaimed the Gospel. According to legend St. James went to Spain and evangelized there for seven years. St. James and St. John asked Our Lord to be at His right-hand in Heaven, and Our Lord said they would be with Him in a far more different and wonderful way than they could have expected.
St. James the Greater died a martyr for Jesus. He was killed by the sword by the order of King Herod Agrippa in c. 44 AD, and his martyrdom is the only one of the apostles that is recorded in the Bible (Acts 12:2). He was the first apostle to be murdered for the faith.
Each year on July 24, many people make a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostela in Spain, the 3rd largest shrine in all of Christendom. According to legend,his body was taken by angels when he was murdered, and it was sailed in an unattended boat to Spain where a massive rock closed around it. In the ninth century, a star in the sky revealed the location of the tomb of St. James, and that was were the Shrine was built. Below the altar rests the remains of St. James the Greater. Some people do not believe the remains are truly his; however, Pope Leo XIII in 1884 in Omnipotens Deus accepted the authenticity of the relics at Compostela.
Be Thou, O Lord, the Sanctifier and Protector of Thy people: so that defended by the aid of Thine Apostle James, they may please Thee in their manner of life, and serve Thee in peace of soul. Through our Lord.
Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
Photo Source: "Apostle Saint James the Greater" by El Greco, 1606, oil on canvas, Museo del Greco, Toledo, Spain
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