St. James, known as the Greater, in order to distinguish him from the other Apostle St. James, our Lord’s cousin, was St. John’s brother. With Peter and John he was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration, as later he was also of the agony in the garden. He was beheaded in Jerusalem in 42 or 43 on the orders of Herod Agrippa. Since the ninth century Spain has claimed the honour of possessing his relics, though it must be said that actual proof is far less in evidence than the devotion of the faithful. The pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella in the Middle Ages attracted immense crowds; after the pilgrimage to Rome or the Holy Land, it was the most famous and the most frequented pilgrimage in Christendom. The pilgrim paths to Compostella form a network over Europe; they are dotted with pilgrims’ hospices and chapels, some of which still exist. St. James is mentioned in the Roman Canon of the Mass.
Almighty ever-living God, who consecrated the first fruits of your Apostles by the blood of Saint James, grant, we pray, that your Church may be strengthened by his confession of faith and constantly sustained by his protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.