St. James the Less
James the Less (Saint James the Less in Catholic and Orthodox traditions). In the Catholic tradition he was the son of Alpheus of Cleophas and Mary, who was either a sister or a close relative of the Blessed Virgin Mary (for that reason, according to Jewish custom, he was sometimes called the brother of the Lord). In the Protestant tradition, he is the younger brother of Jesus born of Mary and Joseph. He wrote the epistle which bears his name. James was a witness of the Resurrection of Christ; he is also a "pillar" of the Catholic Church, whom St. Paul consulted about the Gospel. He was the first Bishop of Jerusalem.
Author of the first Catholic Epistle, his discourse is an exhortation to practical Christian living.
James had a prominent place in the early church and Christian history:
- He was one of select individuals Christ appeared to after his resurrection (I Cor 15:7)
- Paul called him a 'pillar' of the church (Gal 2:9)
- Paul, on his first post conversion visit to Jerusalem, saw James (Gal 1:19)
- Paul did the same on his last visit (Acts 21:18)
- When Peter was rescued from prison, he told his friends to tell James (Act 12:17)
- James was a leader in the important Council of Jerusalem (Act 15:13)
- Jude could identify himself simply as "a brother of James" (Jude 1:1), so well known was James.
- Josephus mentions James' death at the hands of the Jewish authorities.
James was martyred in 62 A.D.
Feastday: May 3.
Prayer to Saint James the Lesser
O Glorious Saint James, you were our Lord's cousin and at the same time his friend and follower. You wrote that every good and perfect gift comes to us from the Father of lights, and that faith without works is useless. You preached the divinity of Jesus until your death as a martyr. Obtain for us from the Father of lights the great gift of a living faith in Jesus' divinity which will inspire us to unstinting labor in the service of God and our fellow human beings and enable us to reach our heavenly destiny. Amen.