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Saint James. History of the Apostle Saint James the Greater

Saint James was the apostle of Jesus Christ and the son of Zebedee. And also the brother of St John the Evangelist, the Word of God. And he was one of the twelve apostles who left his ship with his brother. His father and ship’s boat went after Jesus at His divine call and followed Him everywhere, taking heed to the teachings from His holy mouth. The Lord loved these two apostolic brothers so much that one of them gave him his breast to hold. And this one, he promised him his cup, which he drank on the Cross.

Saint James was the son of Zebedee and the brother of Saint John the Evangelist, the Word of God. And he was one of the twelve apostles who, with his brother, left his ship, his father, and his boat, followed Jesus at his divine call and followed Jesus at his divine call and followed him everywhere.

The Camino de Santiago is a route that takes an average of one and a half months to complete. Starting in France and crossing the Pyrenees into Spain to reach the edge of Europe, on the cliff where the earth was once thought to end. The highlight of the initiatory journey is the tomb of Christianity’s first apostle martyr, St James, at Santiago de Compostela.

Who is Saint James?

James and John and St. Peter the Apostle never left them without telling them something; above all, He revealed to them more than to the others His divine mysteries, as on Tabor, when wishing to show the glory of His divinity. He took Peter, James, and John. And after the passion of his own free will. And after the resurrection and ascension of our Lord, and the reception of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Apostle James went to Spain and elsewhere, preaching the word of God, and returned to Jerusalem.

St. Luke the Apostle, brother of St. Luke the Evangelist, was one of the Twelve Apostles of the Saviour. Both St. James and his brother left their father, Zebedee, and their work as fishermen to follow Christ. The Holy Gospels recall that the Apostle James was present at the Transfiguration of Mount Tabor and the Savior’s events in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The sorcerer, proud and need to speak to James alone, sent his disciple, Philip, saying: “Not only me alone, but my disciple also Jacob will not be able to overcome him in wisdom.” But Philip, speaking with St. James, could not resist the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, which was in the apostle; but was silent as a mute and did not open his mouth in opposition. And knowing the truth, he humbled himself and turned to the sorcerer; his teacher told him that the teaching of James is unbiblical, which he also strengthened with miracles, advising the teacher that, after leaving his teaching, he would be willing to be James’ disciple.

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Biography of Saint James

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What is Saint James the Greater known for?

This Holy Apostle was the son of Zebedee and brother of the Evangelist John, the Comforter of God. Moreover, James was one of the twelve apostles of the Saviour, who, together with his brother, left his native land, leaving behind his home and his father. He goes in search of the Saviour at His divine call.

Saint James is known for being an apostle of Christ who, after Pentecost, preached the Gospel in many places, reaching as far as Spain. Returning to Jerusalem, he was to suffer much torment at the hands of the Jews.

Through his words, full of the grace of the Holy Spirit, Saint James succeeded in bringing many Jews and pagans to faith in Christ. Tradition records the sorcerer Hermoghen, his disciple Philip, and Josiah, all opponents of the Apostle. The latter was even condemned to death, along with the Apostle James, both taking the crown of mutiny in the year 45.

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Why is James the Great called James the Great?

Saint James, after the passion and ascension of our Saviour Jesus Christ, being hated by Herod because he dared to preach the Saviour’s teaching, is captured and killed, thus becoming the Saviour’s second disciple, after the disciple Stephen.

James the Great is called “James The Great” to make it possible to distinguish him from St James, the relative and bodily brother of Jesus, who was the son of Joseph, the husband of Mary. This James the Great was the son of Zebedee and Salome, the elder brother of the Evangelist John, and appears alongside Jesus from the very beginning of the Messiah’s public activity.

From his youth, loving the harsh life, he never ate food or oil, only bread. Neither did he taste wine or any other alcoholic drink, but only water. He did not go into the bath, and all bodily rest he denied himself, then on his body, he always wore a rough coat of hair, and all nights he spent in prayer.

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Key Verse related to Saint James the Great

“James and John desire to bring fire down from heaven upon a Samaritan village.”

Luke 9:51-56 (NIV)

Saint James

What miracles did St. James perform?

The data contained in the New Testament are reliable and indisputable. To these is added a tradition that claims that St James reached Spain. This is highly unlikely. But the transmission of the rule mentioned explains the spread of the cult of St James in Spain and the Spanish lands.

Biblical and historical sources found at the Dead Sea attest that St. James the Great performed three great miracles after the ascension of Jesus:

  1. he healed the lame in the name of Jesus Christ
  2. saved souls
  3. delivered some demonized people from sin

But numerous localities bear his name: Santiago (St James), churches, and monuments dedicated to St James. And especially the famous pilgrimage site in northwest Spain, Compostella. A legend from the 7th century says that after the execution of St James, his disciples took his body and boarded a ship that happened to be on the seashore. They were miraculously brought to the shores of Galicia (Spain).

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Did St. James go to Spain?

James the Great overcame the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of the Holy Scriptures. He is rebuking and reproving the hardness of heart and unbelief of those. They are not able to stand against his unblameable words. Baited a certain sorcerer-philosopher, Ermoghen, with gold against him, that he might quarrel with James. And they shame his teaching.

After the passion of Christ, the resurrection and ascension of our Lord, and the reception of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Apostle James went to Spain, preaching the word of God, and returned to Jerusalem. And he was as fearful as thunder to the Jews because, not doubting, he taught with all boldness about Jesus Christ. That He is the true Messiah, the Savior of the world.

Also, the disciples went ashore in Spain and buried Saint James the Great in the middle of a field. Much later, in the 9th century, God shows a shepherd, by a beautiful star, where the earthly remains of the “Son of Thunder” rest; excavations are made, and indeed the bones of the Holy Apostle are discovered, at whose touch countless miracles are performed. 

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Primary Takeaways

  • Santiago is the Father in the faith of the Iberian Church. And therefore, the Church in South America is an integral part of that great branch of the Catholic Church. Which is the Church of James (born of the preaching of Santiago), spread throughout the western hemisphere.
  • James preached the faith in Spain and, after his early death, continued to grow the seed he planted there. He continued to help and inspire his successors in every period of history, adapting it to the circumstances demanded.
  • The chroniclers of America have clear evidence of the devotion to the Apostle James of the inhabitants of the New World, both white and Indian. It is enough to see the solemnity, pomp, and widespread rejoicing with which they celebrated him.


Christ had Simon, James, and John as his favorites. Only these three received unique nicknames from Christ: Simon, he called Peter; James and John, he called “Boanerges,” meaning “sons of thunder.”

St James is the father and founder of the Church of Spain. Which then spread throughout the New World the spiritual legacy of the tree branches planted by the apostle in the Iberian Peninsula. Being thrown into prisons and scourged, “James was overjoyed that he was found worthy. Worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus” (as we read in Acts). There followed second persecution, whose illustrious victim was St Stephen, and then a third, crueler than the others, unleashed by Herod Agrippa “to please the Jews.”

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  • Van Herwaarden, J. (2003). Between Saint James and Erasmus: Studies in Late-Medieval Religious Life: Devotions and Pilgrimages in the Netherlands (Vol. 97). Brill.
  • Belén, M., & Fernández, C. (2016). The way of Saint James: Memory, propaganda, and power. In Sacred Mobilities (pp. 129-143). Routledge.
  • Lack, K. (2005). A Dyer on the Road to Saint James: An Identity for the Worcester Pilgrim’?. Midland History30(1), 112-128.
  • KING, G. G. (1919). The Vision of Thurkill and Saint James of Compostella. Romanic Review10, 38.