Today is the Feast of St. James the Just, our James' patron saint. St. James is also known as James the Righteous, James of Jerusalem, James Adelphotheos, or James the Brother of the Lord. He was, as the final moniker indicates, a close relative of Christ, as well as the first Bishop of Jerusalem. He is widely held to be the author of the Letter of James in Scripture and of the Apostolic Decree spoken of in Acts 15. According to the writings of Josephus, St. James suffered martyrdom by stoning after defying the Pharisees by publicly proclaiming Jesus to be the Christ. It is recorded that, even as he was being stoned to death, St. James prayed for those who murdered him. It is speculated that the account in Acts of the protomartyrdom of St. Stephen may actually have refered to the death of St. James, whose name would have been changed to the illustrative "Stephen," which literally means "crown," as in the crown of martyrdom.
Not to be confused with James the Great (brother of John, and another of the original Twelve disciples of Christ), St. James' feast is celebrated on May 3rd (today) along with the feast of St. Phillip.
In honor of James' first Nameday, I made a special Israeli feast in honor of his patron's Jewish heritage and his bishopric in Jerusalem.
An Israeli Spread for the Feast of St. James the Just
I had wanted to make some Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke Soup (which apart from the name has nothing to do with Jerusalem), but I couldn't find any sunchokes in our grocery store.
When James is older, we will be able to tell him more about his patron, but in the meantime, I think he's already forming a bond with this great saint--or at least forming a love of falafel!