Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
St. James the Apostle, the brother of John Zebedee, was one of the first four disciples called by Jesus. James and his brother John were nicknamed by Jesus as “the sons of thunder” because they were zealous and impetuous. Yet, later St. James earned the title of the “Apostle of Peace” who would receive a special commission by Our Lady the Queen of Peace in preparation for her appearances into Spain and later the New World.
What we know about St. James happened during the years Jesus began his public ministry. After Jesus invited Peter, James and John to join Him, He would include them at special times, revealing that He was the Son of God. These times were: when he raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead; and when He transfigured into His glorified body in conversation with Moses and Elijah on Mt. Tabor; and again Jesus invited them to pray with Him in the Garden at Gethsemane.
After Jesus died, rose from the dead, and Ascended into heaven. The apostles inspired by the Holy Spirit went out to preach and tell others about Jesus. James evangelized throughout Israel and beyond to the Roman kingdom and on to Spain. He spent 40 years in Spain and converted only a few to Christianity.
Discouraged, while he and his companions were sitting on the bank of the Erbo River, they saw a bright light streaming down and in the light were myriads of angels carrying a throne. On the throne was the Blessed Mother crowned as a Queen. The vision was “extraordinary” because Mary was still alive in Jerusalem. Mary told James to build a church to honor God and she gave him a pillar with her image on it and she instructed him to put it in the sanctuary of the church. Then Mary told James that he would stay there until the church was built and then return to Palestine where he would die.
St. James built the first Christian Church in the world, the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar. He returned to Palestine and was martyred. There are two reports one was that he was arrested by King Herod Agrippa I and beheaded and the other he was arrested and slain by the sword of the king’s men. In any case, St. James was the first Apostle martyred. St. James’ body was not allowed to be buried in Jerusalem. His disciples took his body and it was sent at night by a “miraculous boat guided by God” to Galicia without anyone knowing where his body went.
It was 800 years before his body was found after Pelagio, a hermit, had a vision of where the tomb could be found. On July 25, 812 there was a bright light which filled the spot where the tomb was discovered. and they called the field “Compostela” which means “field of light.” There his body remains at Santiago de Compostela by Papal bull, Pope Leo XIII verified that “the remains of St. James” truly are in Compostela. Many miracles have happened near the site his body was found and attributed to St. James.
This is not the end of miracles associated with St. James and Our Lady Queen of Peace. The Spanish conquistadors were devoted to the virgin Mary painting found in the Spanish mountains which was thought to have been painted by St. Luke. The image was called “A Virgin of Guadalupe” which was the name of the river that passed through the mountains where the painting was found.
In 1519, the conquistadors led by Cortes landed in Vera Cruz (now Lantigua) and constructed the first church which was dedicated to St. James the Apostle. In 1521, the Spanish conquered the Aztecs and Cortes again constructed a church in the ruins after the war and dedicated it to St. James. This is the church Juan Diego ,on September 9, 1531, was going to morning Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (official approval was given in 1477). On his way he met a beautiful Aztec Princess on Tepeyac Hill, the Virgin of Guadalupe.
In 1981, the villagers in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, built a church and dedicated it to St. James the Apostle, the Apostle of Peace. The villagers hoped that he would bring peace to the village. Here Our Lady Queen of Peace appeared to six Croatian teenagers and continues to appear to them bringing messages of prayer and love which she says will change hearts.
“James’ life after Pentecost symbolizes the pilgrimage of the Christian journey.” (Benedict XVI, General Audience, June 21, 2006) This is why he is considered the patron saint of pilgrim travelers. He persevered in service to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary wherever they led him. This is why St. James will prepare the way for Our Lady Queen of Peace.
Let us pray to St. James to help us in our pilgrimage journey and to always listen and obey the requests of Our Lady. It is through Our Lady that we will get closer to Jesus and live in the Father's Will.
Let us continue to pray for the Pope, Bishops, and all priests to be like St. James and lead us to pilgrimage on the right path to heaven.