Our Patron Saint
Patron saints are saints chosen as special protectors or guardians over such things as churches, occupations, illnesses, countries, causes. In fact, anything that is important to us.
Our patron saint is Saint James who was son of Zebedee and Salome. He was the brother of Saint John the Apostle and may have been Jesus' cousin. He worked as a fisherman. James is described as one of the first disciples to join Jesus. (A disciple is a follower of Christ during his life.) He left everything when Christ called him to be a 'fisher of men', on the shores of the River Jordan.
James is shown in our church in two ways - through a mosaic of him, on the right, and through a shell. In the picture James is holding a staff, perhaps a pilgrim's staff. He is also holding a book with a picture of a cross with a shell in the middle of it. The book is thought to be the Gospel - the good news that James was sent out to proclaim. A shell is another symbol of a pilgrim.
Jesus called James a 'son of thunder'. St Luke's Gospel tells us that James called down fire from Heaven on the Samaritans because of their lack of faith. There is a well-known story in St Mark's Gospel where James and his brother ask Jesus for the privilege of sitting at his right and left side in Heaven. James was also present in the Garden of Gethsemane as one of the few apostles who went there with Jesus. He fell asleep as Jesus prayed before he was arrested on the orders of Pontius Pilate.
After Pentecost, James went on to preach the Gospel in Samaria and Judea. He is said to have then travelled a great distance to Spain to spread the good news there. It is said that Jesus' mother Mary appeared in a vision to James in Spain around 40 AD standing on a pillar supported by angels. She is said to have summoned him back to Jerusalem.
The Acts of the Apostles records that he was martyred (killed for his faith) by Herod Agrippa around 43 AD. He was the first of the apostles to be martyred. He was buried in Jerusalem but it is claimed that his relics (remains that people feel are holy) were moved to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in 830 A.D. where they remain today. There are cockle shells on the beaches of Galacia in Northern Spain where his relics were brought on the way to Compostela. These were adopted as symbols of St James from medieval times up until the present day. Pilgrims who travel the same way are given a cockle shell at the end of their journey. In the later Middle Ages his shrine at Compostela became one of the greatest centres of pilgrimage in the Christian world and remains so today.