Our Patron Saint
The Holy Apostle James the Just
Brother of the Lord, First Bishop of Jerusalem, and Author of the Epistle
"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.
As one of his last blessings of new church communities, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of blessed memory graciously granted us a charter and name for our church in honor of St. James the Apostle, First Bishop of Jerusalem and the Brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose feast-day is celebrated on October 23.
St. James has a lot of titles, more than most, doesn't he? It can get confusing – there are two other James that are also listed as "apostles." These other two, James son of Zebedee (and brother of St. John the Theologian) and James the son of Alphaeus (and brother of St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist) are of the "twelve" apostles originally called by our Lord Jesus Christ. James the Brother of the Lord (also known as the "just" or the "righteous") is not one of the original twelve apostles, but he is one of four saints from apostolic times whom the church has also designated as "apostles" (of the "Seventy" mentioned in St. Luke's gospel) whose writings are included in the New Testament, the other three being St. Paul, St. Mark the Evangelist, and St. Luke the Evangelist. The four are included in all the collections of the lives of the Apostles, and in fact the life of St. James says that he was appointed Bishop of Jerusalem not only by the other Apostles, but by the Lord also!
St. James's authority is confirmed by his mention in Chapter 15 of the Book of Acts, where he makes the deciding judgment at the First Council of Jerusalem, despite the fact that Sts. Peter, Paul, and Barnabas were there and spoke also. His decision was put into the text of the first Apostolic letter that went to the churches with the conciliar decisions. For this reason he is considered an Apostle in equal dignity to those of the "twelve." His piety was a cause of renown everywhere, and he was held in the utmost respect by all for his 26 years of episcopal service. St. James is of course the author of the canonical Epistle of St. James, and of the very first Christian liturgy in existence, which is still served today, and which our church celebrates at least two times a year.
St. James is called Brother of the Lord or Brother of God because he is the son of St. Joseph the Betrothed (one of four brothers), the husband of the Most-holy Mother of God, by St. Joseph's first wife, Salome, and thereby a stepbrother of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is both God and man. This appellation leads some people to mistakenly think that the Mother of God had other children aside from our Lord, but this is simply not true, as the term "brother" was much more expansive in apostolic times than our current understanding.
Finally, St. James, after incurring the wrath of the Scribes and Pharisees (who admired him, mistakenly believing that he shared their opinions) who asked him to proclaim his teachings from the summit of the Temple during the Passover, was cast down to the ground by the same when he gave an unexpected confession of true faith in Jesus Christ. He survived the fall, whereupon they then stoned him and clubbed him fatally on the head. He reposed in 61 or 62 AD under the reign of the Emperor Nero, and many considered his martyrdom the cause for the subsequent calamities that befell Jerusalem during Vespasian's invasion of Jerusalem in 67 AD, and its fall in 70 AD.
Holy Hieromartyr and Apostle James, pray to God for us!