Saints Philip and James, Apostles

Friday, May 3

Saints Philip and James, Apostles


The apostle Philip is mentioned several times, especially in John’s gospel. He was originally from Bethsaida, the hometown of the brothers Peter and Andrew. After Jesus called him, he brought Nathanael with him. Tradition holds he preached in Phrygia, dying on a cross at Hieropolis. There are two apocryphal works attributed to him: the Gospel according to Philip and Acts of Philip.

The apostle James, surnamed the Lesser, because he followed Christ after the other apostle of the same name, James the Greater, brother of John (July 25) was the son of Alpheus. Some identify him with James, son of Mary, who was under the cross (Matt 27:56), and the early church used to identify him with James, the brother of the Lord (Mark 6:3) and leader of the Jerusalem Church. It is doubtful that he authored the Letter of James from the New Testament. Nothing certain is known about his further life. He is believed to have been beaten or stoned to death. He is venerated as the patron of the dying and along with James as patron saints of Uruguay.

Their shared veneration goes back to the reported transfer of their relics into the church of Twelve Apostles in Rome. The dedication day of this church, May 1, 570 is also the original day of their memorial. After the introduction of the memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker on May 1, the feast of the apostles was first moved to May 11 and eventually to May 3.