James, son of Zebedee

James, son of Zebedee (Hebrew: יַעֲקֹב, Yaʿqob; Greek: Ἰάκωβος; Coptic: ⲓⲁⲕⲱⲃⲟⲥ; died 44 AD) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, traditionally considered the first apostle to be martyred.

Saint James
Guido Reni - Saint James the Greater - Google Art Project
Saint James the Greater by Guido Reni
Apostle and Martyr
BornBethsaida, Galilee, Roman Empire, around 3 AD
Died44 AD
Jerusalem, Judea, Roman Empire
Venerated inAll Christianity
Major shrineCathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia (Spain), Cathedral of St. James, Jerusalem, Armenian Quarter (Israel)
Feast25 July (Western Christianity)
30 April (Eastern Christianity)
30 December (Hispanic Church)
AttributesRed Martyr, Scallop, Pilgrim's hat
Guatemala, Nicaragua, Spain, Guayaquil and some places of the Philippines and Mexico.
Veterinarians, equestrians, furriers, tanners, pharmacists, oyster fishers, woodcarvers.

In the New Testament

The son of Zebedee and Salome is James, styled "the Greater", to distinguish him from the Apostle James "the Less", with greater meaning older or taller, rather than more important. He was the brother of John the beloved disciple.[1]

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.[2] James and John[3] (or, in another tradition, their mother[4]) asked Jesus to grant them seats on his right and left in his glory. Jesus rebuked them, and the other 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]

Shield with symbol of St. James the Great, Church of the Good Shepherd (Rosemont, Pennsylvania)
Shield with symbol of St. James the Great, Church of the Good Shepherd (Rosemont, Pennsylvania)

The Acts of the Apostles records that "Herod the king" (traditionally identified with Herod Agrippa) had James executed by the sword. James the Greater is traditionally believed to be the first of the Apostles martyred for his faith.[Acts 12:1-2]. Nixon suggests that this may have been caused by James's fiery temper,[5] for which he and his brother earned the nickname Boanerges or "Sons of Thunder".[Mark 3:17] F. F. Bruce contrasts this story to that of the Liberation of Saint Peter, and notes that "James should die while Peter should escape" is a "mystery of divine providence".[6]


Rembrandt - Sankt Jakobus der Ältere
Saint James the Elder by Rembrandt
He is depicted clothed as a pilgrim; note the scallop shell on his shoulder and his staff and pilgrim's hat beside him.

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", with San Diego also being a derivative of Santiago.) 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, although its modern revival and popularity stems from Walter Starkie's 1957 book, The Road to Santiago. The Pilgrims of St. James.[7] 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.[8] 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[9] pilgrims received a Compostela. In 2010 the number had risen to 275,135.[10]

The feast day of St. James is celebrated on 25 July on the liturgical calendars of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and certain Protestant churches. He is commemorated on 30 April in the Orthodox Christian liturgical calendar (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 30 April currently falls on 13 May of the modern Gregorian Calendar). The national day of Galicia is also celebrated on 25 July, being St James its patron saint.


The site of martyrdom is located within the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of St. James in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. The Chapel of St. James the Great, located to the left of the sanctuary, is the traditional place where he was martyred, when King Agrippa ordered him to be beheaded (Acts 12:1-2). His head is buried under the altar, marked by a piece of red marble and surrounded by six votive lamps.[11]


Mission in Spain and burial at Compostela

According to Catholic tradition, Apostle James, son of Zebedee, spread Christianity in Spain. In the year 44, he was beheaded in Jerusalem and his remains were later transferred to Galicia in a stone boat, to the place where stands Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.

The 12th-century Historia Compostelana commissioned by bishop Diego Gelmírez provides a summary of the legend of St. James, as it was believed at Compostela. Two propositions are central to it: first, that St. James preached the gospel in Spain, as well as in the Holy Land; second, that after his martyrdom at the hands of Herod Agrippa, his disciples carried his body by sea to Iberia, where they landed at Padrón on the coast of Galicia, then took it inland for burial at Santiago de Compostela.

The translation of his relics from Judea to Galicia in the northwest of Iberia was done, in legend, by a series of miraculous happenings: decapitated in Jerusalem with a sword by Herod Agrippa himself, his body was taken up by angels, and sailed in a rudderless, unattended boat to Iria Flavia in Iberia, where a massive rock closed around his relics, which were later removed to Compostela.

According to ancient local tradition, on 2 January AD 40, the Virgin Mary appeared to James on the bank of the Ebro River at Caesaraugusta, while he was preaching the Gospel in Spain. She appeared upon a pillar, Nuestra Señora del Pilar, and that pillar is conserved and venerated within the present Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, in Zaragoza, Spain. Following that apparition, St. James returned to Judea, where he was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I in the year 44.[12][13]

The tradition at Compostela placed the discovery of the relics of the saint in the time of king Alfonso II (791-842) and of bishop Theodemir of Iria. These traditions were the basis for the pilgrimage route that began to be established in the 9th century, and the shrine dedicated to James at Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia in Spain, became the most famous pilgrimage site in the Christian world. The Way of St. James is a trio of routes that cross Western Europe and arrive at Santiago through Northern Spain. Eventually James became the patron saint of Spain.


James suffered martyrdom[Acts 12:1-2] in AD 44. According to the tradition of the early Church, he had not yet left Jerusalem at this time.[14] An argument supporting this assertion is based on the Epistle to the Romans, written after AD 44, in which Paul expressed his intention to avoid "building on someone else's foundation"[Rom. 15:20] by visiting Spain,[Rom. 15:23-24] suggesting that he knew of no previous evangelisation in Hispania.

The suggestion began to be made from the 9th century that, as well as evangelizing in Iberia, James' body was brought to and is buried in Compostela. No earlier tradition places the burial of St. James in Spain. A rival tradition places the relics of the apostle in the church of St. Saturnin at Toulouse; if any physical relics were ever involved, they might plausibly have been divided between the two.

The tradition of Saint James' burial in Compostela was not unanimously accepted, and numerous modern scholars, following Louis Duchesne and T. E. Kendrick,[15] reject it. (According to Kendrick, even if one admits the existence of miracles, James' presence in Spain is impossible.) The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) registered several "difficulties" or bases for doubts of this tradition, beyond the late appearance of the legend:

Although the tradition that James founded an apostolic see in Iberia was current in the year 700, no certain mention of such tradition is to be found in the genuine writings of early writers nor in the early councils; the first certain mention we find in the ninth century, in Notker, a monk of St. Gall (Martyrologia, 25 July), Walafrid Strabo (Poema de XII Apostoli), and others.

The Bollandists, however, defended it. (Their Acta Sanctorum, July, VI and VII, gives further sources.) A belief in the authenticity of the relics at Compostela was also asserted by Pope Leo XIII, in his 1884 bull Omnipotens Deus.

Medieval "Santiago Matamoros" legend

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - St Jacobus in Budapest
Saint James as the Moor-killer by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest). His mantle is that of his military order.

An even later 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). ¡Santiago, y cierra, España! ("St. James and strike for Spain") was the traditional battle cry of medieval Spanish (Christian) armies. Cervantes has Don Quixote explaining that "the great knight of the russet cross was given by God to Spain as patron and protector".[16]

A similar miracle is related about San Millán. The possibility that a cult of James was instituted to supplant the Galician cult of Priscillian (executed in 385) who was widely venerated across the north of Iberia as a martyr (at the hands of the local bishops, rather than as a heretic) should not be overlooked. This was cautiously raised by Henry Chadwick in his book on Priscillian;[12] it is not the traditional Roman Catholic view. The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1908, however, is quite cautious about the origins of the cult (see above at "Controversy").


Cross Santiago
The Cross of Saint James, the symbol of the Order of Santiago; the hilt is surmounted with a scallop.

James' emblem was the scallop shell (or "cockle shell"), and pilgrims to his shrine often wore that symbol on their hats or clothes. The French term for a scallop is coquille St. Jacques, which means "cockle (or mollusk) of St. James". The German word for a scallop is Jakobsmuschel, which means "mussel (or clam) of St. James"; the Dutch word is Jacobs schelp, meaning "the shell of St. James". In Danish and with the same meaning as in Dutch the word is Ibskal, Ib being a Danish language version of the name Jakob, and skal meaning shell.

Military Order of Santiago

The military Order of Santiago, named after James, was founded in Spain in the 12th century to fight the Moors. Later, as in other orders of chivalry, the membership became a mark of honor.

Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) teaches that James has been resurrected and that in 1829 he—along with the resurrected Peter and the translated John—visited Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and restored the priesthood authority with apostolic succession to earth.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: St. James the Greater".
  2. ^ Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36.
  3. ^ Mark 10:35-45
  4. ^ Matthew 20:20-28
  5. ^ R. E. Nixon, "Boanerges", in J. D. Douglas (ed.), The New Bible Dictionary (London: The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1963), 1354,
  6. ^ F. F. Bruce, "Commentary on the Book of the Acts" (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 251.
  7. ^ New York, E. P. Dutton, 1957, OCLC 28087235; reprinted by the Univ. of California Press in 1965 (OCLC 477436336) and published in Spanish translation in 1958 with the somewhat different title of El camino de Santiago: las peregrinaciones al sepulcro del Apóstol, trans. Amando Lázaro Ros, Madrid, Aguilar, 1958, OCLC 432856567. Both the English original and the translation have been republished.
  8. ^ "Estadísticas".
  9. ^ "Años". Archived from the original on 1 January 2010.
  10. ^ "La Peregrinación a Santiago en 2010" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 November 2015.
  11. ^ http://www.christusrex.org/www1/ofm/sbf/escurs/Ger/07santuarioGiacomoBig.jpg
  12. ^ a b Chadwick, Henry (1976), Priscillian of Avila, Oxford University Press
  13. ^ Fletcher, Richard A. (1984), Saint James's Catapult: The Life and Times of Diego Gelmírez of Santiago de Compostela, Oxford University Press
  14. ^ Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis, VI; Apollonius, quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History V.xviii)
  15. ^ "Saint James in Spain", London, 1960
  16. ^ Don Quixote, 2nd section, chapter 58
  17. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 27:12.

External links

Acts 12

Acts 12 is the twelfth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It records the death of the first apostle, James, son of Zebedee, followed by the miraculous escape of Peter from prison, the death of Herod Agrippa I, and the early ministry of Barnabas and Paul of Tarsus. The book containing this chapter is anonymous, but early Christian tradition uniformly affirmed that Luke composed this book as well as the Gospel of Luke.


Asnoun (Arabic: اصنون‎) is a small village in the Zgharta District, in the North Governorate of Lebanon. It is located 2 km south of the town of Zgharta.

The inhabitants of Asnoun are Lebanese and are followers of the Maronite Catholic Church. Its parish church and patron saint is Mar Yacoub (St. Jacob, also known as James, son of Zebedee, an apostle of Jesus), and his feast day is celebrated on 25 July each year. A second feast day is celebrated on 27 November each year to honour St. James Intercisus (also referred to as Mar Yacoub). An older church named after St. George can also be found amongst the olive trees in the village.

Battle of Clavijo

The Battle of Clavijo is a mythical battle. "To a serious historian, the existence of the Battle of Clavijo is not even a topic of discussion". However, it was believed for centuries to be historical, and it became a popular theme of Spanish traditions regarding the Christian expulsion of the Muslims. The stories about the battle are first found centuries after it allegedly occurred; according to them, it was fought near Clavijo between Christians, led by Ramiro I of Asturias, and Muslims, led by the Emir of Córdoba.

In the legend, the apostle James, son of Zebedee, an Apostle of Jesus, who died 800 years earlier, suddenly appeared and led an outnumbered Christian army to gain its victory. He became the patron saint of Spain and is known to Spaniards as Saint James Matamoros ("the Moor-killer"). Aspects of the historical Battle of Monte Laturce (859) were incorporated into this legend, as Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz demonstrated in 1948. The date originally assigned to the battle, 834, was changed in modern times to 844 to suit the inherent contradictions of the account. The day is sometimes given as 23 May.

The legend as it survives was first written down about 300 years after the supposed event on a spurious charter. Another item, a forged grant to the Church of Santiago de Compostela by which Ramiro reportedly surrendered a part of the annual tribute owed him by all the Christians of Spain, also dates from the mid-twelfth century. The history of the cult of Saint James is rich in such frauds. Historian Jean Mitchell-Lanham says, "While this event is based on legend, the supposed battle has provided one of the strongest ideological icons in the Spanish national identity."

Cathedral of Saint James, Jerusalem

The Cathedral of Saint James (Armenian: Սրբոց Յակոբեանց Վանք Հայոց, or Saints Jacobs Armenian Cathedral) is a 12th-century Armenian church in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, near the quarter's entry Zion Gate. The cathedral is dedicated to two Christian saints: James, son of Zebedee (James the Greater) (one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus) and James the brother of Jesus (James the Just).It is the principal church of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, also known as the Armenian Patriarchate of Sts. James.

Chronicon Iriense

The Chronicon Iriense is a short Latin chronicle of the Diocese of Iria Flavia, modern Santiago de Compostela, during the period beginning in 561 and ending in 982. It is usually found appended to the Historia Compostellana in medieval manuscripts, though it is also found in twelfth-century manuscripts that are otherwise in disagreement with the Historia. It may have been designed to complete the account of the diocese found in the Historia, but there is a school of thought which places its composition immediately after the last events it records, around 982, by the vengeful and recently deposed bishop Pelayo Rodríguez, as both Justo Pérez de Urbel and M. R. García Álvarez believed.

The Chronicon begins with Andrew, bishop during the First Council of Braga in 561 and continues to the episcopate of Pedro Martínez de Monsoncio. It mentions the discovery of the purported body of James, son of Zebedee, during the episcopate of Theodomirus, during the reign of Alfonso II the Chaste, but it does not describe how the body was found. According to the Chronicon, Theodomirus became the first bishop of the new see of Santiago de Compostela in the days of Charlemagne (called rex Franciae, king of France).

Eulalia of Mérida

Eulalia of Mérida (Augusta Emerita in 292 - Augusta Emerita 10 December, 304) was a young Roman Christian martyred in Augusta Emerita, the capital of Lusitania (actually Mérida, Spain), during the Persecution of Christians under Diocletian. Other views place her death at the time of Trajan Decius (AD 249-51). There is debate whether Saint Eulalia of Barcelona, whose story is similar, is the same person. Up till the proclamation of James, son of Zebedee, Eulalia was invoked as the protector of Christian troops in the Reconquista and was patron of the territories of Spain during their formation.

Heiligenstadt St. James's Church

St. James’s Church (German: Kirche St. Jakob) is one of two Roman Catholic churches in the parish of Heiligenstadt in the 19th district of Vienna, Döbling. It stands at the Pfarrplatz and is dedicated to James, son of Zebedee (Saint James).

The church is sometimes wrongly called St. Jacob's. The confusion arises because German, like many other languages, uses the same word for both James and Jacob.

Jacob (disambiguation)

Jacob was a patriarch of the Jewish & Christian traditions. It is also the true name of the two apostles of Jesus: James son of Zebedee and James son of Alphaeus.

James a late Latin or Vulgar name corresponding to "Jacob".

Jacob may also refer to:

Jow (unit), an obsolete unit of length in India

Jacob (sheep), a rare breed of black and white spotted, multi-horned sheep

Book of Jacob (Mormon), the third book in the Book of Mormon

Jacob (clothing retailer), a Canadian clothing store chain

Jacob (film), 1994 film about the life of the patriarch

Jacob (name)

Jacob is a common male given name and a less well-known surname. It is a cognate of James.

Jacob is derived from Late Latin Iacobus, from Greek Ἰάκωβος Iakobos, from Hebrew יַעֲקֹב (Yaʿqob, Yaʿaqov, Yaʿăqōḇ), the name of the Hebrew patriarch, Jacob son of Isaac and Rebecca. The name comes either from the Hebrew root עקב ʿqb meaning "to follow, to be behind" but also "to supplant, circumvent, assail, overreach", or from the word for "heel", עֲקֵב ʿaqeb.

In the narrative of Genesis, it refers to the circumstances of Jacob's birth when he held on to the heel of his older twin brother Esau (Genesis 25:26).

The name is etymologized (in direct speech by the character Esau) in Genesis 27:36, adding the

significance of Jacob having "supplanted" his elder brother by buying his birthright.In a Christian context, Jacob – James as reduced English form – is the name for several people in the New Testament: (1) apostle James, son of Zebedee, (2) another apostle James, son of Alphaeus, and (3) James the brother of Jesus (James the Just), who led the original Nazarene Community in Jerusalem.

James, son of Alphaeus

James, son of Alphaeus (Ἰάκωβος, Iakōbos in Greek; Hebrew: יעקב בן חלפי Ya'akov ben Halfay; Coptic: ⲓⲁⲕⲱⲃⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲁⲗⲫⲉⲟⲥ) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, appearing under this name in all three of the Synoptic Gospels' lists of the apostles. He is often identified with James the Less (Greek Ἰάκωβος ὁ μίκρος Iakōbos ho mikros, Mark 15:40) and commonly known by that name in church tradition. He is also labelled "the minor", "the little", "the lesser", or "the younger", according to translation. He is distinct from James, son of Zebedee and in some interpretations also from James, brother of Jesus (James the Just). He appears only four times in the New Testament, each time in a list of the twelve apostles.

James the Apostle

James the Apostle may refer to:

James, son of Zebedee (James the Greater), one of the twelve apostles of Jesus

James, son of Alphaeus, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus

James the Less

James the Less is a figure of Early Christianity. He is also called "the Minor", "the Little", "the Lesser", or "the Younger", according to translation. He is not to be confused with James, son of Zebedee ("James the Great or Elder"). He is mostly identified with James, the Lord's brother and often with James, son of Alphaeus. but the sources offer no certainty.

John I (bishop of Jerusalem)

John I of Jerusalem was the seventh Bishop of Jerusalem.

He was, according to Eusebius, a Jewish Christian born to Jewish parents who kept the Law of the Torah. According to universal tradition, John I replaced the first bishop of Jerusalem Saint James the Just, the "brother of the Lord," who was appointed bishop by the Apostles Peter, St. James (whom Eusebius identifies as James, son of Zebedee) and John.John was well versed in the Law of Moses and as a young man disputed with Christians until he converted with the instruction of St. Justus bishop of Jerusalem. He was baptized and ordained a deacon. His two-year episcopacy was one under which the church was persecuted.

John I died April 11, after serving two years in office.

Saint-Jacques-de-Leeds, Quebec

Saint-Jacques-de-Leeds is a municipality located in the Municipalité régionale de comté des Appalaches in Quebec, Canada. It is part of the Chaudière-Appalaches region and the population is 686 as of 2009. It is named after one of Jesus' apostles, James, son of Zebedee, and the city of Leeds, England.


Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur-de-Wolfestown is a parish municipality in Les Appalaches Regional County Municipality in the Chaudière-Appalaches region of Quebec, Canada. Its population is 189 as of the Canada 2011 Census.It was named after one of Jesus' first disciples, James, son of Zebedee. Wolfestown was the name of the historic township in which it is located, which was named after General James Wolfe.

St. James Cathedral (Orlando, Florida)

St. James Cathedral is a parish church and the seat of the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, John Noonan. The cathedral's patron saint is James, son of Zebedee, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and traditionally considered the first apostle to be martyred. The scallop shell has long been the symbol associated with St. James, and the cathedral uses it as its primary symbol. The parish operates St. James Cathedral School on nearby Robinson Street which offers classes from pre-school through eighth grade.

Tuxpan, Michoacán

Tuxpan is a small village in between Zitácuaro and Ciudad Hidalgo in the Mexican state of Michoacán. It is located 118 km (73 mi) from Morelia.

Tuxpan is distinguished for its fantastic church dedicated to James, son of Zebedee, St. James the Apostle (Santiago Apostol), in which a majestic painting by Cristóbal de Villalpando is exhibited.

New Testament people
Jesus Christ
Virgin Mary
See also
Seven Archangels
Other Saints

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