3 May – Feast of Sts Philip and James – Apostles and Martyrs
Philip was one of the ﬁrst chosen Disciples of Christ. On the way from Judea to Galilee Our Lord found Philip and said, “Follow Me.” Philip straightway obeyed and then in his zeal and charity sought to win Nathaniel also, saying, “We have found Him of Whom Moses and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth” and when Nathaniel in wonder asked, “Can any good come out of Nazareth?” Philip simply answered, “Come and see” and brought him to Jesus. Another characteristic saying of this apostle is preserved for us by St John. Christ in His last discourse had spoken of His Father and Philip exclaimed, in the fervour of his thirst for God, “Lord, show us the Father and it is enough.” According to the anonymous Acts of Philip, through a miraculous healing and his preaching, Philip converted the wife of the proconsul of the city of Phyrgia. This enraged the proconsul, and he had Philip, Bartholomew tortured. Philip and Bartholomew were then crucified upside down and Philip preached from his cross. As a result of Philip’s preaching the crowd released Bartholomew from his cross but Philip insisted that they not release him, and Philip died on the cross. Another account is that he was martyred by beheading in the city of Hierapolis.
St James the Less, the author of an inspired epistle, was also one of the Twelve. St Paul tells us that he was favoured by a special apparition of Christ after the Resurrection. On the dispersion of the apostles among the nations, St James was left as Bishop of Jerusalem and even the Jews held in such high veneration his purity, mortiﬁcation and prayer, that they named him the Just. The earliest of Church historians has handed down many traditions of St James’s sanctity. He was always a virgin, says Hegesippus, and consecrated to God. He drank no wine, wore no sandals on his feet and but a single garment on his body. He prostrated himself so much in prayer that the skin of his knees was hardened like a camel’s hoof. The Jews, it is said, used out of respect to touch the hem of his garment. He was indeed a living proof of his own words, “The wisdom that is from above ﬁrst indeed is chaste, then peaceable, modest, full of mercy and good fruits.” He sat beside St Peter and St Paul at the Council of Jerusalem and when St Paul at a later time escaped the fury of the Jews by appealing to Caesar, the people took vengeance on James and crying, “The just one hath erred,” stoned him to death.
Why do we celebrate the feasts of St Philip and St James the Less on the same day? We celebrate them on the same day because their relics were brought to Rome together on the same day in early May. They rest there still, in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles. The reception of the Bodies of Sts Philip and James, which were brought from the East, somewhere about the 6th Century, gave rise to the institution of to-day’s Feast and this led gradually, to the insertion into the Calendar, of the special Feasts for the other Apostles and Evangelists.
For more on Sts Philip & James: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/blessed-feast-day-of-sts-philip-and-james-apostles-of-jesus-christ/