Saint James the Elder, Apostle

July 25 – St. James the Elder, Apostle –

James, son of Zebedee (died 44 AD) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was a son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of John the Apostle. He is also called James the Elder to distinguish him from James, son of Alphaeus, who is also known as James the Less.

The Gospel lists of the Twelve (Matthew 10, 2-4; Mark 3, 14-19; Luke 6, 13-16) all include James and John among the first four, and from Mark 3,17 we learn that Jesus nicknamed them ‘the sons of thunder’ – perhaps justified by the story (Luke 9, 51-56) that they once wished to call down fire from heaven to destroy a village which had refused them hospitality.

Saint James is said to have traveled a great deal. The scallop shell is a symbol for the traveler because he used this shell to scoop water to drink.

The James whose shrine is at Santiago de Compostela, in north-west Spain, was the brother of John (possibly the Evangelist). The Gospels (Matthew 4, 21-22; Mark 1, 19-20; Luke 5, 10-11) record that they were fishermen, the sons of Zebedee, partners with Simon Peter, and called by Jesus from mending their nets beside the sea of Galilee at the beginning of his ministry.

~Image: The picture is a Greek Catholic icon depicting apostle James the Greater with a pilgrim’s stick in his hand. The icon was painted at the end of the 18th century as part of the iconostasis of the Greek Catholic Cathedral of Hajdúdorog, Hungary. James’ icon is placed on the second tier of the iconostasis, the so called Twelve Apostles tier. This icon is the third painting from the right.