Nothing is known of St. James the Greater’s early life, though it has been established that he is the son of Zebedee and Salome and brother of John the disciple. The title “the Greater” was added to St. James’ name to help distinguish him from the Apostle James “the Less,” who is believed to have been shorter than James “the Greater.”
Saint James the Greater was one of Jesus’ first disciples. James was fishing with his father and John the Apostle when Jesus came to the shores of the Sea of Galilee and called for the fishermen, who were unable to catch any fish that day, to dip their nets in the water once again. When the fishermen followed Jesus’ instructions, they found their nets full, and after emptying the fish on board, the boats nearly sank from their weight. Later, James was one of only three called by Jesus to witness his Transfiguration, and when he and his brother wanted to call fire upon a Samaritan town, both were rebuked by Jesus.
Following Christ’s Ascension, James spread the Gospel across Israel and the Roman kingdom as well. He traveled and spread the Word for nearly forty years in Spain. It is said that one day, as he prayed, The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and asked him to build her a church, which he did. Later, James returned to Jerusalem but was martyred for his faith by King Herod, who decapitated him. Saint James the Greater is known as the first apostle to die. As he was not allowed to be buried following his martyrdom, his remains were taken to Compostela, Spain, by some of his followers, who buried him.
In the ninth century, his remains were discovered and moved to a tomb in Santiago de Compostela. Today, his remains can still be found in the Cathedral of Santiago. Because Santiago de Compostela is the most frequently visited place pilgrims migrate to following Rome and Jerusalem, Pope Leo declared it a shrine.
El Camino de Santiago or the Way of St. James is a spiritual journey that people from all walks of life have traversed for over a thousand years. The route covers 111 km (68 miles) that crosses through the picturesque northern Spanish countryside and ends at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of the apostle St. James lie.
Pilgrims take the Camino walk for a variety of reasons. Some seek penance, healing, or enlightenment and still others go to fulfil a longing for a unique spiritual journey. For whatever reason it may be, spiritual, cultural, or otherwise, the Camino walk is an unforgettable adventure that sets the perfect ambience for reflection as pilgrims follow the path in between villages, mountains and fertile valleys that have molded the lives of millions of pilgrims before them.
St. James the Greater Prayer
O glorious Apostle,
St. James, who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart
wast chosen by Jesus to be a witness of His glory on Mount Tabor,
and of His agony in Gethsemane;
thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory:
obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life,
that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus,
we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor’s crown in heaven.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, The Camino de Santiago (the Way of Saint James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.
Embark on an amazing, transformational journey within where you will experience the awe-inspiring, life-changing energy that millions of pilgrims have felt throughout the centuries. Join an 8-day Buen Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage. We have various departure dates available. Please visit our website here or contact us for more details.