The Holy Apostle James, son of Zebedee
O gracious God, we remember before you today your servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that you will pour out upon the leaders of your Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
St James the Greater, the son of Zebedee and brother of St John the Divine, was one of the Twelve. He and St John, later called the “Sons of Thunder”, reputedly followers of St John the Baptist, both left their father Zebedee to become Christ’s disciples. Along with Peter, they witnessed the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the Transfiguration of the Lord, and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemene.
According to tradition, after the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost, James, enabled to speak Latin, began preaching the Gospel westward in Spain and abroad. He returned to Jerusalem to continue his commission, and certain Judeans hired the sorcerer Hermogenes to rebut St James’ claims. Hermogenes sent his disciple Philetus (or Philip). First Philetus, then Hermogenes were converted. Hermogenes burned his magic books and became a disciple of Christ.
The leaders in Judea persuaded Herod Agrippa to have St James arrested and sentenced to death. (Ac 12:1, 2). Eusebius’ Church History, records an account of the first Apostolic Martyr’s execution:
The one who led James to the judgment-seat, when he saw him bearing his testimony, was moved, and confessed that he was himself also a Christian. They were both therefore, he says, led away together; and on the way he begged James to forgive him. And he, after considering a little, said, “Peace be with thee,” and kissed him. And thus they were both beheaded at the same time.
According to tradition, this “one who led James to the judgment-seat” was named Josiah.
An excellent account of the history and legends of St James the Greater can be found at The Golden Legend: The Life of St James the More.
O Holy Apostle James, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.