Saints Philip and James 


Feast Day - May 11

Philip was born at Bethsaida, and was one of the first of the twelve Apostles to be called by Christ the Lord. From him Nathaniel learned that the Messias promised in the Law had come, and was led to the Lord. How close Philip was to Christ is clearly shown by the fact that some of the Gentiles who wished to see the Savior went first to Philip. And when the Lord wished to feed the multitude in the wilderness, He said to Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?” After Philip had received the Holy Spirit, it fell to his lot to preach the Gospel in Scythia; and he converted nearly all that people to the Christian faith. Finally, when he had reached Hieropolis in Phrygia, he was fixed to a cross and then stoned to death for the name of Christ. His body was buried there by the Christians and later taken to Rome and buried in the basilica of the Twelve Apostles, together with the body of St. James.

James, a kinsman of the Lord, surnamed the Just, refrained, from his earliest youth, from using wine or strong drink, never cut his hair nor used baths and ointments. He alone was allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies. He wore linen garments, and was so devoted to prayer that his knees became as hard as camel’s skin. After the ascension of Christ, the Apostles made him Bishop of Jerusalem; and it was to him that the Prince of the Apostles sent the messenger to say that he had been delivered from prison by an Angel. When a dispute arose in the Council of Jerusalem about the Law and circumcision, James followed the opinion of Peter and gave a speech to the brethren approving the calling of the Gentiles and saying that the absent brethren should be written to and told not to impose the yoke of the Mosaic Law on the Gentiles. The Apostle Paul wrote of him in his letter to the Galatians: “I saw none of the other Apostles, except James, the brother of the Lord.”

Such was the holiness of James’s life that people used to vie with one another trying to touch the fringe of his garment. He reached the age of ninety-six, having governed the Church of Jerusalem for thirty years in a most holy way. At that time, when he was preaching Christ the Son of God with great courage, he was first attacked with stones, then led to the highest part of the Temple and thrown to the ground. His legs were broken by the fall, and, as he lay half dead, he raised his hands to Heaven and prayed to God for the salvation of the people, saying, “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” While he was praying, he was hit on the head with a fuller’s club, and he thus gave up his soul to God, in the seventh year of Nero’s reign, and was buried near the Temple from which he had been hurled down. He wrote one of the seven Catholic Epistles.

Taken from The Hours of the Divine Office in English and Latin, Vol. II: Passion Sunday to August (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1963), pp. 1791-1794

Related Link:

Epistle and Gospel for May 11