Our Patron Saint
St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem
St. James, brother of our Lord and author of the epistle that bears his name, was not a believer until after the resurrection of Christ. But once he came to faith, he was a bold witness of the gospel and a faithful leader of the early Church, even staying in Jerusalem to minister to his flock during a period of intense persecution when other Apostles left the city.
St. James presided over the Council of Jerusalem, as described in Acts 15, in which a major dispute between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile converts was settled. The Jewish Christians wanted to require that the new converts be circumcised, and St. Paul and St. Barnabas stood in strong opposition. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, St. James pronounced that the Gentiles were free from the ceremonial requirements of the Mosaic law, but that they must be sure to put away the idolatry and sexual immorality that were rampant in their culture.
St. James was widely known as a man of prayer. In fact, he spent so much time on his knees that they became calloused, and he was fondly referred to as "camel-kneed." His piety and strict adherence to the Law of God won him the respect of both Christians and Jews, and he was widely known as "James the Just" or "James the Righteous."
However, in 62 A.D., the Temple leaders began to fear the spread of Christianity under the influence of St. James, so they determined to kill him if he would not deny Christ. Having been called before the High Priest, he continued to preach the gospel, encouraged by shouts of "Hosanna" from Christians in the crowd. Angered by his persistence, the priests and scribes took him to the top of the Temple and threw him to the ground. He survived the fall and began praying for his persecutors, but someone in the mob below clubbed him to death. Several other Christians in the crowd were also martyred that day. Eight years later, when the Temple was destroyed, the historian Josephus named the murder of St. James as one of the causes of God's judgment on Jerusalem.
Collect for the Feast of St. James
O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst set thy brother James on the throne of thy church in Jerusalem: Grant, we beseech thee, that as he continually made supplication for the sins of thy people, and labored to reconcile in one body both Jew and Gentile; so thy Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity, and may ever be an effectual witness for the salvation of all mankind. Grant this, O Son of Man, who art on the right hand of the Father, in the unity of the Spirit, now and ever. Amen.
The Jerusalem Cross
Because of our connection with St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, we often use the Jerusalem Cross as a symbol of our church.