Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (20: 20-28) in which the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favour of him. Afterwards, Fr Paul shares a little about the life of St James, whose memorial we celebrate today.

Fr Paul says St James was the brother of St John and, like him, a fisherman. He was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration and was also one of those who slept through most of the Agony in the Garden.

James was the first of the apostles to be martyred, being beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I to please the Jewish opponents of Christianity. He was buried in Jerusalem, and nothing more is really known about him until the ninth century.

About that time, Fr Paul says, we learn of a tradition that the relics of St James were taken to Spain some time after his martyrdom, (perhaps early, perhaps as late as 830), and his shrine at Compostela in Galicia grew in importance until it became the greatest pilgrimage centre in western Europe. In every country there are churches of St James and known and well-trodden pilgrim routes.

The scallop-shell, the emblem of St James, has become the emblem for pilgrims, generally.

On this day, Fr Paul invites us to pray, ‘St James…pray for us!’