St James the Great (also known as St James the Greater) was one of Jesus’ Apostles and the first Apostle to be martyred. St James was one of the sons of Zebedee and Salome and the brother of John the Apostle.
Read the full St James the Greater novena on the novena page. You can also learn more about novenas here.
Who Was Saint James the Greater?
St James the Great (also known as St James the Greater) was one of Jesus’ Apostles and the first Apostle to be martyred. Pray this novena for Spain and for pilgrims.
St James was one of the sons of Zebedee and Salome and the brother of John the Apostle.
He is known as St James the Greater to distinguish him from the other Apostle with the same name, likely because St James the Greater was the physically larger of the two.
From the New Testament, we know that Jesus called the two brothers when St James was fishing in the Sea of Galilee with his father and brother (St John the Apostle).
They had caught no fish, but Jesus told them to put down their nets again, and when they did so they made an enormous catch, prefiguring the fishers of men that they would become.
St James, along with Sts Peter and John, were part of Jesus’ inner circle of Apostles, and these three witnessed His Transfiguration.
Tradition holds that St James traveled across Israel and the Roman Empire, sharing the Faith. He spent the greatest amount of his life in Spain preaching the Gospel.
One day, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and told him to build a church in her honor, which St James did.
In 44 AD, St James traveled to Jerusalem where King Herod martyred him for his faith.
His followers carried his remains to Compostela, Spain and buried him there.
His remains were discovered in the 800s and placed in a tomb in Santiago de Compostela.
Because of this history, the Camino de Santiago is a world famous pilgrimage with different routes through Europe that converge on the tomb of St James in the Cathedral there.
Feastday: July 25 Patron: of pilgrims and Spain Death: 44