James was known as James, the son of Zebedee, James the Elder, or St. James the Great, to distinguish him from another apostle with the same name. His name always appears in the Bible, along with his brother John. His ministry was mainly in Jerusalem and Judea. James was the first apostle martyred and only his martyrdom is recorded in the Bible (Acts 12:1-3). He was beheaded at the order of King Herod Agrippa in 44 A.D. After his martyrdom, his body was transported to Spain and buried at Santiago de Compostela. That place became a great pilgrim center.
James also preached in Spain. While he was in Spain, at first, he found no positive outcome from his preaching. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, bi-located and appeared to him in 40 A.D. on a pillar on the bank of River Ebro at Zaragoza and encouraged him, stating that his mission would have a great outcome. Blessed Mother asked him to build a church there in her name. She gave a pillar of jasper to mark the spot where she had appeared to him.
James was brave and committed to preach the gospel of Jesus and lead the church in a highly dangerous area for the early Christians. Like the first Christian Martyr Stephen, he became the first martyr among the apostles. Blessed Mother Mary helped him with his difficult mission in Spain. Let us be bold in our Christian witnessing amidst adversities and seek the intercession of the Divine Mother in our difficulties.