Saint James the Elder, Apostle
St. James the Elder, Apostle – James, son of Zebedee (died 44 AD) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was a son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of John the Apostle. He is also called James the Elder to distinguish him from James, son of Alphaeus, who is also known as James the Less.
The Gospel lists of the Twelve (Matthew 10, 2-4; Mark 3, 14-19; Luke 6, 13-16) all include James and John among the first four, and from Mark 3,17 we learn that Jesus nicknamed them ‘the sons of thunder’ – perhaps justified by the story (Luke 9, 51-56) that they once wished to call down fire from heaven to destroy a village which had refused them hospitality.
Saint James is said to have traveled a great deal. The scallop shell is a symbol for the traveler because he used this shell to scoop water to drink.
Image by Rembrandt. He is depicted clothed as a pilgrim; note the scallop shell on his shoulder and his staff and pilgrim’s hat beside him.