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St. James The Greater

James the Greater was one of the Twelve Apostles. He was the brother of John and the son of Zebedee. He is called the Greater because he was probably older than the other James mentioned in the Gospels. James was likely the older brother of St. John, because John is thought to have been the youngest of the Apostles. Their parents seem to have been fairly well off for Zebedee was a fishermen able to hire employees (Mark 1:20). Jesus called James and John Boanerges, meaning “Sons of Thunder,” since they were outspoken (Mark 3:17). The mother of James and John, whom some sources think may have been the Salome mentioned as one of the women who followed Jesus, asked Christ that her sons have a place of honor in His Kingdom (Matthew 20:21). James was the first of the Apostles to be put to death. Herod Agrippa I had him beheaded around 44 A.D. (Acts 12: 1-2). A tradition has that St. James preached the Gospel in Spain; this does not seem likely, for an older tradition holds that he never left Jerusalem after the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples on Pentecost. It is thought that some of his relics are in a church in Compostela, Spain, but this cannot be historically verified. The Church of Santiago de Compostela was an extremely popular pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages and it is still popular. The feast of St. James the Greater is July 25.

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