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Saint James the Less by Pompeo Batoni, National Trust, Basildon Park

Feast of Saint James the Lesser

(1st c.)

St. James the Lesser, also called St. James the Just, was one of the Twelve Apostles and the cousin of Jesus. Both James and his brother, St. Jude, began to follow Jesus in the second year of his ministry. St. James the Less was the first of the Twelve Apostles to whom the risen Christ appeared.

After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, James was given charge as bishop of the Church in Jerusalem, making him an important leader of the early Church. He was well-known for his prayer life and holiness. It is described that his knees and forehead were calloused due to long hours spent prostrate in prayer. His sanctity was such that he was respected by the Jews and considered by many to be a holy man.

James the Less is the author of the New Testament epistle that bears his name. He was martyred by being thrown from the roof of the Jerusalem temple and then stoned and beaten to death as he prayed for his murderers. He died in the year 62 A.D. during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. St. James the Less is the patron saint of pharmacists and the dying.

His feast day is May 3rd.

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Saint James the Lesser, a 17th-century painting by Spanish Baroque master Jusepe de Ribera

My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

James 5:19-20
St James the Minor by Peter Paul Rubens, oil on panel (1612-1613), Museo del Prado, Madrid

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone may say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called “the friend of God.” See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

James 2:14-26
Credit: MonasteryIcons.com

saint james the less, apostle, martyr, pray for us.

Be not afraid!  And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.  Holy Family, pray for us.  Amen.

The Holy Family, Murillo
The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities (c. 1675-82) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682)

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