Saint James the Greater

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 CommonsAlso known as

  • Iago
  • Jacobus de Oudere
  • Jacobus Major
  • Jakobus der Ältere
  • James Major
  • James the Elder
  • James the More
  • James the son of Zebedee
  • James, son of Zebedee
  • Santiago
  • Santiago de España
  • Santiago de los Caballeros
  • Son of Thunder



Son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of Saint John the Apostle, and may have been Jesus’ cousin. He is called “the Greater” simply because he became an Apostle before Saint James the Lesser. Apparent disciple of Saint John the Baptist. Fisherman. He left everything when Christ called him to be a fisher of men. Was present during most of the recorded miracles of Christ. Preached in Samaria, Judea, and Spain. First Apostle to be martyred.

The pilgrimage to his relics in Compostela became such a popular devotion that the symbols of pilgrims have become his emblems, and he became patron of pilgrims. His work in Spain, and the housing of his relics there, led to his patronage of the country and all things Spanish; for centuries, the Spanish army rode to battle with the cry “Santiago!” (“Saint James!”)

Like all men of renown, many stories grew up around James. In one, he brought back to life a boy who had been unjustly hanged, and had been dead for five weeks. The boy‘s father was notified of the miracle while he sat at supper. The father pronounced the story nonsense, and said his son was no more alive than the roasted fowl on the table; the cooked bird promptly sat up, sprouted feathers, and flew away.





  • key
  • pilgrim with wallet and staff
  • pilgrim‘s hat
  • pilgrim‘s staff
  • sword
  • cloak
  • cockle shell
  • dark-bearded man holding a book
  • dark-bearded man holding a sword
  • dark-bearded man holding a scroll
  • dark-bearded man with a floppy pilgrim‘s hat, long staff, water bottle, and scallop shell
  • elderly, bearded man wearing a hat with a scallop shell
  • long cape
  • man mounted on horseback, trampling a Moor
  • man holding the long staff of a pilgrim from which a wallet or gourd of water is suspended
  • man with a thin beard, and the hair parted in the middle and flowing down on each side
  • man with shells around him
  • pilgrim of Compostella
  • scallop shell
  • scallop shell on his flapped hat
  • scallop shell on his shoulder
Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Saint James the Greater“. CatholicSaints.Info. 21 January 2022. Web. 25 January 2022. <>