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Our Patron Saint

Who was St James?

St James the Great is the patron saint of our school. James and his brother John were two of Jesus’ closest disciples. The Gospels (Matthew 4, 21-22; Mark 1, 19-20; Luke 5, 10-11) record that they were fishermen, the sons of Zebedee, partners with Simon Peter, and were called by Jesus from mending their nets beside the Sea of Galilee at the beginning of his ministry.  

James and John witnessed Jesus working at first hand and were present at the healing of Peter's mother-in-law (Mark 1, 29), and at the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5, 37; Luke 8, 51).  They are described in private conversation with Jesus on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13, 3). They were also present, with Peter, at the Transfiguration, a key event in the life of Jesus (Matthew 17, 1-13; Mark 9, 2-8; Luke 9, 28-36), and again, the same three disciples are called apart from the others in Gethsemane (Matthew 26, 37; Mark 14, 33).

Jesus was asked by James and John to accord them places on his right and his left when they enter his kingdom (Matthew 20, 20-28; Mark 10, 35-45), when they declared themselves ready to drink from the same cup as Jesus, i.e. to accept martyrdom. Finally, the sons of Zebedee are specifically mentioned as being present at the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus (John 21, 2) on the shores of Lake Tiberias and amongst those gathered in the upper room after the Ascension (Acts 1, 13).

St James was martyred (Acts 12, 1-2) by sword at the hands of Herod Agrippa I (r. 41-44 A.D.).

He is known as James the Great to distinguish him from James the Less who became a pillar of the Jerusalem community, and is thought to have been the first bishop of Jerusalem (Galatians 1, 19 and 2, 9).

There is a shrine to St James at Santiago de Compostela, in north-west Spain. This is a place of pilgrimage for Christians, with thousands visiting the shrine every year.