Friday, September 6, 2013

Whatever Happened to James the Elder? by Chris White

 James is the first of the apostles who is martyred in scripture.  The book of Acts tells us that Herod had James killed and when he saw it pleased the Jews he proceeded to have Peter captured for the purpose of executing him in Jerusalem as well.  This was the incident where Peter was being prayed for by the Church and when the Lord delivered him, no one at the prayer meeting believed it was him at the front door.  Despite the fact that in Jerusalem there is a Cathedral and burial spot for him, there is a fascinating belief that James was the first to evangelize Spain and died there.  So strong is this belief that in the Middle Ages, Compostela in Spain, the alleged burial site, became the third most important pilgrimage site after Jerusalem and Rome.  Today, 10’s of thousands of people continue to hike this pilgrimage route for spiritual or secular reasons and this phenomenon formed the background of a Hollywood film starring Martin Sheen a couple of years ago called The Way.   It would not be out of the question for James to have been in Spain since there was 14 years from Pentecost until his death and travel was very easy to accomplish in that era.  But this story is probably more an illustration how legends can become fact given enough time and enthusiasm.  James the elder is one of the few apostles for which we know the end of his story directly from the pages of scripture.

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