Saint of the Day – 25 July – Feast of St James the Greater, Apostle of Christ and Marytr – Also known as: James Major, James the Elder, James the More, James, son of Zebedee, Santiago de España, Son of Thunder, Iago, Santiago, the Moor Slayer. Martyred – stabbed with a sword by King Herod Agrippa I in 44 at Jerusalem. Tradition says his body was taken by Angels and sailed in a rudderless, unattended boat to Spain where a massive rock closed around it. His relics are at at Compostela, Spain. Patronages – against arthritis or rheumatism, apothecaries, druggists or pharmacists, blacksmiths, equestrians, horsemen, riders, furriers, knights, labourers, pilgrims, soldiers, tanners, veterinarians, Spanish conquistadors, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Spain, Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington, diocese of Bangued, Philippines, 20 cities. St James 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 and James the brother of Jesus (James the Just). James the son of Zebedee is the patron saint of Spaniards and as such is often identified as Santiago.
His parents seem to have been people of means. Zebedee, his father, was a fisherman of the Sea of Galilee, who probably lived in or near Bethsaida, present Galilee, Israel, perhaps in Capernaum and had some boatmen or hired men. Salome, his mother, 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 he and 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. 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 John asked Jesus to grant them seats on his right and left in his glory. Jesus rebuked them and the other ten apostles were annoyed with them. 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” (traditionally identified with Herod Agrippa) 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] Biblical scholars suggest that this may have been caused by James’ fiery temper, for which he and his brother earned the nickname Boanerges or “Sons of Thunder”
Saint James is the Patron Saint of Spain and, according to legend, his remains are held in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. (The name Santiago is the local evolution of Vulgar Latin Sanctu Iacobu, “Saint James.”) 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. Some 237,886 pilgrims registered in 2014 as having completed the final 100 km walk (200 km by bicycle) to Santiago to qualify for a Compostela. When 25 July falls on a Sunday, it is a “Jubilee” year (an Año Santo Jubilar Compostelano or Año Santo Jacobeo) and a special east door is opened for entrance into Santiago Cathedral. Jubilee years fall every 5, 6, and 11 years. In the 2004 Jubilee year, 179,944 pilgrims received a Compostela. In 2010 the number had risen to 275,135.
Medieval “Santiago Matamoros” legend – tradition states that he miraculously appeared to fight for the Christian army during the legendary battle of Clavijo and was henceforth called Santiago Matamoros – Saint James the Moor-slayer. Cervantes has Don Quixote explaining that “the great knight of the russet cross was given by God to Spain as Patron and Protector.”