St. James and his brother Jude were the only Apostles related to Jesus by blood; their mother was a relative of Our Lady. Jesus called James to be His Apostle in the second year of His public ministry, but after that James fades into the background of the gospels.
St. Paul tells us that Our Lord appeared to James alone after the Resurrection. Before Our Lord’s Ascension, He commended the Church in Jerusalem to James’s care, while the rest of the Apostles traveled the world to spread the Faith.
James became well-beloved in Jerusalem, gaining the name “James the Just” from the faithful. Jews and Gentiles alike respected him and revered his great holiness. He was very strict with himself and spent so much time in prayer that his knees grew very hard.
From his place in Jerusalem, James supported and defended the other Apostles and disciples. The early Church relied heavily on his wisdom and example, calling him—along with Peter and John—a pillar of the Church. He wrote the Epistle that bears his name in the New Testament.
In 62 A.D., hostile Jews attempted to make him apostatize before a huge crowd during the Pasch. James instead proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ so that all could hear. He quoted Our Lord’s words from the cross—“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”—as the crowd martyred him.
Although James was a great man in the early Church, he is still known to us by the non-flashy name of James “the Less,” making him a good saint to look to for humility. You can ask St. James to help you grow in this virtue as you follow the pithy advice of Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s 12-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem. With beguiling humor and refreshing candor, these twelve simple steps will smooth your way to growing in one of the hardest virtues. Get your copy today at The Catholic Company!