Often called “the Greater”, James was a son of Zebedee and brother of the apostle and evangelist John (celebrated on December 27). He belonged to the inner circle of the apostles and the gospels frequently name him along with Peter and John: they witnessed Christ’s transfiguration and agony in the garden.
James suffered martyrdom during the persecution under the king Herod Agrippa: he was beheaded probably in the year 42 AD, the first Martyr among the Apostles. A church was built over his tomb in Jerusalem.
According to a legend, he also worked in Spain and his remains are venerated in Santiago de Compostela since the 9th century. This site has become a goal of many pilgrimages from across Europe between the 10th until the 15th century.
A feast in his honor is attested since the 9th century in Rome; numerous churches and chapels called after him testify to his popularity among people. The pilgrimage on the Cammino de Santiago has become very popular over the past few decades again.