(CNS) — Jesus called James and John, the sons of Zebedee, to leave their livelihood as fishermen and follow him. Perhaps because of their zeal or temperament, Jesus called them “sons of thunder” (cf. Mt 4:21-22, Mk 1:19-20, Lk 5:8-11).
James was one of the three Apostles who were particularly close to the Lord. He was there with the Lord and his brother, John, and Peter at the Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane. “The greater” distinguishes him from the other Apostle James, “the lesser,” who likely was smaller or younger.
James was the first of the 12 to be martyred; he was beheaded in Jerusalem by order of Herod Agrippa about 44. Some legends say James preached in Spain before his death; others say his relics were transferred there.
He is the patron saint of pilgrims, laborers, rheumatism, several Latin American countries and Spain, where Santiago de Compostela has been a famous pilgrimage center since the Middle Ages. He is also the patron of St. James the Greater Parish in Glendale.