A Garner of Saints – Saint James the Elder

detail of a stained glass window of Saint James the Greater; 19th century by F X Zettler, Munich, Germany; parish church of Saint Alban, Gutenzell-Hürbel, Biberach, Germany; photographed in January 2015 by Andreas Praefcke; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

(French: Jacques, Italian: Jacopo or Giacomo, Latin: Jacobus, Spanish Jago): After the Ascension he preached in Judea and Samaria and then proceeded to Spain. Returning to Judea he was encountered by a magician named Hermogenes, who was leagued with the Pharisees and who sent his disciple Philetes to dispute with James. But when Philetes arrived the apostle overcame him in argument and wrought many miracles in his presence, so that he went back to his master declaring himself a convert. Hermogenes in a rage bound him by magic so that he could not move, but he sent word to James, who returned him a handkerchief, and when Philetes touched this the spell was broken; and he hastened to the apostle. Then Hermogenes sent devils, commanding them to bring James and Philetes to him bound. When the devils came they prayed the apostle to have mercy on them, and he released them from the charms of the sorcerer, commanding them to bring Hermogenes to him bound. And they brought Hermogenes to James with his hands bound behind him and besought the apostle to permit them to be avenged on the magician for the torments which he had inflicted on them. James, however, commanded Philetes to release Hermogenes, who stood confounded not daring to depart, as he feared the wrath of the devils. But the apostle gave him his staff and he went to his house and brought all his magical books to be burned. James commanded that they should be thrown into the sea, lest the smell of them should harm the unwary. When this had been done Hermogenes besopght the apostle’s pardon, and grew in grace thereafter, many marvels being wrought by him. After these things the Jews came and reproached the apostle for preaching Christ, but he addressed them with such eloquence that many of them believed. However, Eleazar the High Priest raised a tumult and caused James to be taken, while Jonah the scribe put a rope round his neck and dragged him before Herod Agrippa. And Herod, being willing to please the Jews, commanded that he should be beheaded. As James was on the way to the place of execution, a paralytic man, who was lying by the roadside, called on him that he should heal him. The apostle, invoking the name of Christ, immediately made him whole, and when Jonah the scribe saw this, he confessed Christ so that he also was condemned to be beheaded. Immediately afterwards James suffered martyrdom. Then came the disciples by night and put the body into a ship, committing themselves to the sea without mariners or pilots. And they came to Galicia in Spain when Lupa was queen. Laying the body on a stone, the hard material yielded like wax and became a sarcophagus. Proceeding to the queen the disciples related how Christ had sent her the body of the apostle, but she directed them deceitfully to the king of Spain, who cast them into prison. From their dungeon they were set free by an angel, and the king sent soldiers to kill them, who were drowned by the breaking of a bridge. Then the king sent for the disciples and was converted, but Lupa was grieved. However she offered them certain oxen which she kept on a mountain to take the saint’s body where they would. Now these oxen were wild and were guarded by a huge dragon, and she hoped that they would tear the holy body in pieces. But the disciples ascended the mountain, slew the dragon by the sign of the cross, and yoked the oxen to a wain upon which they laid the body of James in its stone sarcophagus. And the oxen were as tame as lambs and drew the body to the midst of the queen’s palace without guidance. When she saw this she believed and gave her palace at Compostella as a church for the holy body, endowing it richly. Among other posthumous miracles it is related that three poor pilgrims, a father and mother with their son were travelling to Compostella, and halted by the way at an inn. The landlord’s daughter, struck by the youth’s beauty, offered herself to him, but being repulsed hid her father’s drinking cup in his baggage. After their departure the pilgrims were pursued, and the cup being found in the youth’s baggage, he was taken before the Alcayde and forthwith condemned to be hanged. The parents performed their vows, and on their return the mother went to see the remains of her son and was astonished to find him alive and well. Saint James, he said, had supported him so that he had suffered nothing. The father and mother went immediately to the Alcayde, who was sitting down to dinner of a cock and a hen which were laid before him. The mother came in crying that her son was alive. “Nonsense,” replied the Alcayde, “he is as much alive as these fowls,” and as he uttered the words the birds rose up in the dish alive and well. The Alcayde immediately repaired to the gibbet followed by all the village, and they found the youth fresh and ruddy as if he had been feasting instead of fasting for six months. And the pilgrims departed together rejoicing.


  • As a pilgrim with the staff and escallop shell.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint James the Elder”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 April 2017. Web. 19 June 2018. <>