He lived in: 1st Century AD
He died in: 44 A.D
Feast Day: 25th July
Patron Saint of Spain

Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me.

There is no recorded date of his birth to a family of fishermen in Galilee.  His father was Zebedee and his brother was John, who later became The Evangelist.  It is believed that Jesus and James were related due to the fact that Salome the mother of James, was the sister of Mary, Our Lady.

One day James, John and Zebedee were by the seashore fixing their nets, when Jesus walked by.  He asked James to come and be one of His disciples.  Together with St Peter and St Andrew, they became members of Christ’s inner circle and were the first witnesses to His ministry.  These included:

  • The Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Hermon also known as Mount Sinai
  • The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemene

After Jesus ascended to heaven, it is said that Our Lady appeared to James on the bank of the Ebro River which is the longest river in Spain.  He saw her vision on a pillar which can be found today in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza, Spain.

Having been a fisherman and having followed Jesus throughout His earthly ministry, the Scallop Shell is the emblem of St James.   The shell relates to two layers of a human being i.e. physical and spiritual. 

Having many grooved lines they lead from the outer rim to a meeting point at the base.  The shell represents the many different spiritual and religious pathways that lead to the same place to the universal centre of all of our lives.

When a pilgrim carries the Scallop Shell it represents their personal journey – the sacred path that we should take within.  We are all on the outer rim of the spirit, sometimes struggling to find our way to the centre.

James walked a long and difficult road with Jesus.  Despite having a fiery temper at times, he learnt to control it and to live a peaceful and spiritual life which he shared with others to help them on their own personal journeys to discover Christ and the Holy Spirit.

In 43 A.D. he had returned to Palestine and was martyred the following year by King Herod Agrippa I, who ordered the persecution of all Christians in order to satisfy the Jewish people.

His martyrdom is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (12:2).

For those of you who have travelled on The Way of St James, you will know that your destination would have been the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.  Pilgrimages have been undertaken since 9th Century A.D. culminating at the magnificent cathedral.

“There is no greater love than this.   There is no greater gift that can ever be given.  To be willing to die, so another might live”.

Thank you for reading and God Bless,

Previous Posts in the Apostles of Christ Series

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