|The Martyrdom of St James the Greater by Jean Fouquet|
Today is the Feast of St. James, the Apostle. Last night I was reading through some of the readings in the Breviarium Romanum (pre-Vatican II breviary) and was struck by the 5th & 6th readings from the office of Matins:
St. James, Apostle of Our Lord, pray for us!After that Jesus Christ was ascended into heaven, James preached how that He was God, and led many in Judaea and Samaria to the Christian Faith. A while afterward, he went to Spain, and there he brought some to Christ, of whom seven were afterwards ordained Bishops by Blessed Peter, and were the first such sent into that country. From Spain James went back to Jerusalem, where he taught the Faith to diverse persons, and, among others, to the Magician Hermogenes. Thereupon Herod Agrippa, who had been raised to the kingdom under the Emperor Claudius, to curry favour with the Jews, condemned James to death for his firm confession that Jesus Christ is God. The officer who led James to the judgmentseat, at sight of the courage wherewith he was ready to offer up his testimony, declared himself also to be a Christian. As they were being hurried to execution, this man asked pardon of James, and the Apostle kissed him, saying, 'Peace be unto thee.' James healed a paralytic, and immediately afterwards both the prisoners were beheaded. The body of the Apostle was afterwards taken to Compostella, (in the province of Gallicia, in Spain,) where his grave is very famous. Multitudes of pilgrims from all parts of the earth betake themselves thither to pray, out of sheer piety or in fulfilment of vows. The Birthday of James is kept by the Church upon this day, which is that of the bringing of his body to Compostella. It was about Easter-time (Acts xii. 2-4) that he bore witness to Jesus Christ with his blood, at Jerusalem, being the first of the Apostles to do so.