Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint James the Greater (first century)

Saint James the Greater (first century)

Patron saint of laborers, people with rheumatism, and Spain

Feast day: July 25

Saint James and his brother Saint John the Apostle were two of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles. Saint James is often called "Saint James the Greater" to distinguish him from the other Apostle James, called "the Lesser."

Jesus first encountered James and John while they were fishing with their father. After joining Jesus, James and John were among Jesus’ closest disciples. James was present at Jesus’ Transfiguration and in the garden of Gethsemane.

In the Gospel of Matthew, after the mother of James and John asks if the brothers may be seated at Jesus’ right and left sides in his Kingdom, Jesus instructs the disciples on the importance of service, sacrifice, and humility. James and John both confidently proclaim their allegiance to Jesus’ message of love and service.

Their confidence proves well founded, as the Acts of the Apostles tells of King Herod killing James, making him the first of the Apostles to be martyred. A special pilgrimage, called the “Way of Saint James,” (also known as "The Camino," which is Spanish for "way" or "road") leads to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, where James’s remains are said to be buried.

(Image by Jusepe de Ribera, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)