St. James the Greater: Son of Thunder
July 25 is the feast day of St. James the Greater. St. James is known as the Greater, in order to distinguish him from the other apostle James, our Lord’s cousin. St. James the Greater was one of the apostles of Jesus Christ, the son of Zebedee and Salome, the brother of John the Evangelist, and, like him, a fisherman. James and John came to be called “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17) — a name given to them by Jesus Himself — due to their passionate preaching style and their evangelical zeal.
St. James the Greater and his brother John were repairing the nets on their boats on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus called them to follow Him to become “fishers of men.” With Peter and John, he witnessed the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, Jesus’ Transfiguration, and Christ’s Agony in the garden of Gethsemani.
In his own ministry, James spread the gospel message to Samaria, Judea, and Spain. He returned to Jerusalem, where he was beheaded by the sword under King Herod Agrippa I in the year 44, becoming the first of the apostles to be martyred.
Tradition tells us the remains of St James were miraculously brought to Spain after his martyrdom and a chapel was built over it. Santiago de Compostela in Galicia grew in importance and has become the greatest pilgrimage site in Western Europe.
St. James the Greater is the patron saint of: arthritis and rheumatoid sufferers, blacksmiths, equestrians, furriers, pharmacists, pilgrims, soldiers, tanners, and veterinarians.
Prayer to St. James the Greater
O Glorious St. James, because of your fervor and generosity Jesus chose you to witness his glory on the Mount and His agony in the Garden. Obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending struggles of this life. Help us to follow Christ constantly and generously, to be victors over all our difficulties, and to receive the crown of glory in heaven.