Many Anglican churches are named after various characters from the Bible or Christian saints, remembered for their courageous faith. Rudry Church is named after James (often referred to as St. James the Great), the apostle of Jesus. But who was James?

Quick facts about St. James

-The patron of Pilgrims and Labourers

-Memorial Day / Feast Day: July 25th

-Named by Jesus as one of the Sons of Thunder

-Date of Death: Saint James the Greater died in A.D. 44

-Cause of Death: Beheaded

Who or what is St. James the patron saint of?

Saint James the Greater is the patron of Pilgrims and Labourers. Why is Saint James the Greater is the patron of Pilgrims? St. James the Greater is universally regarded as the patron of pilgrims to the Holy Land, because after establishing the Christian religion in Spain, he returned to Judaea on a pilgrimage and was there beheaded. The scallop-shell is the recognised symbol of all pilgrims to the Holy Land, as it abounds on the shores of Palestine. When returning to his own country, pilgrims displayed the scallop-shell in their hats, to show that they had carried out their pious intentions.

The Story and History of St. James

James was one of the disciples of Jesus. James was prominent amongst the twelve apostles. He was James, the son of Zebedee, who was considered the greater apostle of those called James. James is thought to be a cousin of Jesus, by the sister of the Virgin Mary, and the brother of Saint Jude Thaddeus. James worked as a fisherman with his brother John, his father Zebedee and his colleague Simon. John and James were followers of John the Baptist and then Jesus. John the Baptist referred to Jesus with the words "Behold the Lamb of God!”. He left his life as a fisherman when Jesus called him to be a fisher of men. He followed Jesus as one of his disciples until Jesus was crucified. James was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles and was given the mission to spread the gospel of Jesus. He made a pilgrimage to Spain to spread the gospel. He returned to Judea, where he was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I (10 BC - 44 AD) in the year 44. This is detailed in the Bible in Acts 12 of the New Testament. The remains of St. James the Great are said to be buried in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Spain) which is why Saint James the Great is the patron saint of Spain, as well as of pilgrims and labourers.

How St. James the Great is represented in Christian Art

It is helpful to be able to recognise Saint James the Greater in paintings, stained glass windows, illuminated manuscripts, architecture and other forms of Christian art. The artistic representations reflect the life or death of saints, or an aspect of life with which the person is most closely associated. Saint James the Greater is represented in Christian Art in the garb of a pilgrim, with staff, gourd, and scallop-shell.

Feast Day of St. James the Great

The Feast Day of Saint James the Greater is July 25th. The origin of Feast Days: most saints have specially designated feast days and are associated with a specific day of the year and these are referred to as the saint's feast day. The feast days first arose from the very early Christian custom of the annual commemoration of martyrs on the dates of their deaths at the same time celebrating their place within the Church. Many churches hold a "patronal service" on the anniversary of their Saint.


Jesus calls James

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding round him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Luke 5:1-10