Biography of St. Philip and St. James
There is not much known about Philip who was from Galilee although it is believed that he was influenced by John the Baptist. He is not mentioned in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, or Luke. The only information about Philip appears in the gospel of John.
After Jesus had asked Peter and Andrew to follow him, he next asked Philip to do the same. Philip was a married man with children but he did not hesitate when asked to follow the Lord. He was the one who convinced Nathaniel to also follow the Lord.
In the famous gospel story of the loaves and fishes, Philip was the one that Jesus proposed the difficulty of feeding the multitudes. In a way, Philip was a practical man and may have been considered the “manager” of food and supplies. He also was present at the Feast of Cana.
After the Lord’s ascension, Philip, as did the other Apostles, preached the gospel all over the world. It appears that Philip lived to a very advanced age. His remains were later moved to the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles in Rome, which was originally dedicated to Saints Philip and James (James the Less). Philip was the only Evangelist in the Bible! He did not go into the Christian churches but went instead to the streets to win souls. Philip and
Bartholomew were preaching in Greece. According to legend, Philip through prayer killed a large serpent in a temple devoted to serpent worship in Hierapolis and healed many of snake bites. Angered by his actions the pagan city governor and priest ordered Philip and Bartholomew to be crucified. While on the cross, an earthquake knocked everyone to the ground, and Philip prayed for their safety. Seeing the earthquake abate, the people demanded that Philip and Bartholomew be released. Bartholomew survived but Philip subsequently laid his life down for Christ, being stoned to death after reaching many with the gospel. He is the patron saint of hatters and pastry chefs. His feast day is May 3rd.
James, to distinguish him from the other apostle of the same name, was called the James the Less. He also at times was called James the Just. It is believed that the term “the less” was used because he was either younger or smaller in stature than the other James, the son of Zebedee. James the Less was the son of Alpheus and Mary, the sister of Mary. James and his brother, Jude, were called to be apostles in the second year of Jesus’ preaching. James lived in the shadow of others. During the last crucial days of his Lord’s life, his activities and whereabouts are unknown. In fact his name appears in the New Testament only in connection with someone else.
James witnessed the Resurrection of our Lord and became a leader of the church in Jerusalem and by tradition the first bishop there. James was a Nazarite or one consecrated to God. He never shaved, drank wine or liquor, never used any bath or oil, never ate of any living creature, did not wear sandals and merely wore a simple single linen garment. He prostrated so much in prayer that the skin of his knees and forehead was hardened like camels’ hoofs. It was said that in a great drought on stretching out his arms to heaven and praying, James made it instantly rain.
The high priest assembled the Sanhedrin, the great council of the Jews, and summoned James and others before it. They were accused of violating the laws and James was delivered to the people to be stoned to death. They carried him up to the top of the temple and ordered him to make a public renunciation of his faith in Christ. He refused to do so and he was thrown headlong down to the ground and was then stoned to death. Since the last blow on his head was with a club, that became part of his symbol. He is the patron saint of pharmacists and hatters. His feast day also is May 3rd.
Just as Philip & James were Jesus’ chosen fishers of people, we look forward to having you join us as we follow the call of our patrons to be a fisher of others – an Apostle of Hope.