Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint James of the Marches (1391–1476)

Saint James of the Marches (1391–1476)

Patron of his birthplace, Monteprandone, Italy, and co-patron of Naples, Italy

Feast day: November 28

Saint James was born in the March of Ancona in Italy. He attended the University of Perugia, where he attained doctorates in canon law and civil law. After he earned his degrees, he felt called to join the Franciscans and live a very disciplined life. This austerity included fasting for nine months of the year and sleeping only three hours per night. Saint Bernardine of Siena advised him to moderate his penances!

He continued his education by studying theology with Saint John of Capristrano. James was ordained and began his ministry as a successful preacher. He converted many to the Catholic faith and facilitated the spread of the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. James founded montes pietatis (literally, mountains of piety), or nonprofit credit establishments, that loaned money to the poor at very low interest rates. These were the first pawn-shops.

Some people were unhappy with James's ministry. There were two assassination plots against him, but both assassins lost their will to kill when they came face to face with him. Saint James of the Marches was canonized in 1726.

A note on the art: The snake in the chalice may refer to an attempt to poison Saint James, or it may refer to a theological controversy about the Precious Blood of Christ.

(Image in public domain-100)