Our patron saint is Saint James who was son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of Saint John the Apostle, and may have been Jesus' cousin. He is actually called Saint James the Greater because he became an Apostle before Saint James the Lesser. He was a disciple of Saint John the Baptist and a fisherman by trade. James is described as one of the first disciples to join Jesus. He left everything when Christ called him to be a fisher of men, on the shores of the River Jordan.
James was one of the three Apostles, along with Peter and John, privileged to witness three miraculous events:
• The Healing of Peter's mother-in-law (Matthew 1:29-31),
• The raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37-43),
• The Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:2-8).
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 the two brothers 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 accompanied Jesus there. 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, and then legend says he traveled a great distance to Spain to spread the good news there.
St. James the Greater was preaching by the River Ebro in Caesaraugusta (Spain). It was looking like James’ mission was failing, making him depressed, he was in prayer one day when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him in the flesh (she was still alive at this time, so it was not an apparition but a bilocation) she appeared standing on a six-foot tall pillar of jasper, carried by angels.
The Virgin Mary told St. James: “This place is to be my house, and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall build… and the people of this land will honor greatly my Son Jesus.”
The chapel originally built by Saint James was later destroyed along with a number of subsequent chapels built on the same site. However, the statue and pillar have been preserved however for almost 2000 years. Numerous healings have occurred throughout the years by those visiting the site.