Commemorated on October 23
The Holy Apostle James, the Brother of God (Adelphótheos) was the son of the Righteous Joseph before he was betrothed to the Most Holy Theotokos. Tradition says that Joseph had other sons with his first wife. Thus, James was called the Lord’s brother. Saint James had been a Nazirite, a man or woman consecrated to God for a limited time. During the period of consecration the Nazirites vowed to abstain from wine and other intoxicating beverages, they could not cut their hair, and all contact with a corpse was forbidden (Numbers 6:1-21).
When the Savior began to proclaim the Kingdom of God, Saint James believed in Christ and became His Apostle. Later, he was chosen as the first Bishop of Jerusalem.
Saint James presided over the Council of Jerusalem and his word was decisive (Acts 15). In his thirty years as bishop, Saint James converted many Jews to Christianity. Angered by this, the Pharisees and the Scribes plotted together to kill the holy bishop. They led him up on the pinnacle of the Jerusalem Temple and asked him what he thought of Jesus. The holy Apostle bore witness that Christ is the Messiah, which was not the response the Pharisees were expecting. Enraged, the Jewish leaders threw him off the roof. He did not die at once, but gathering his final strength, he prayed to the Lord for his enemies while they were stoning him. Saint James’ martyrdom occurred about 63 A.D.
The holy Apostle James composed a Divine Liturgy, which formed the basis of the Liturgies of Saints Basil the Great and John Chrysostom. The Church has preserved an Epistle of Saint James, one of the books of the New Testament. In it Saint James advises: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath” (James 1:19) and “Be doers of the word, and not just hearers, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
In 1853, Patriarch Hierótheos of Alexandria sent a portion of the relics of Saint James to Moscow.
The Church distinguishes between the Holy Apostle James the Brother of God, Saint James the son of Zebedee (April 30), and Saint James the son of Alphaeus (October 9).
Saint James the Apostle is also commemorated on the Sunday after the Nativity of Christ, with the Prophet-King David and Saint Joseph the Betrothed.