St. James was the son of Joseph (who was betrothed to the Ever-Virgin Mary) by his first wife, Salome, who was the niece of the Prophet Zacharias, the father of St. John the Baptist. St. James had three brothers by the flesh: Simon, Jude, and Joses, and two sisters, Ester and Thamar, also known as Martha. St. James is called the Brother of the Lord because he alone among St. Joseph’s sons was willing to share his inheritance with Jesus after St. Joseph became a guardian of the Lord and the Virgin Mary in his old age.
St. James accompanied the Virgin, St. Joseph, and Jesus on their flight into Egypt. He was truly righteous. He fasted, living on bread alone, never tasting wine. He prayed for long hours, his knees so calloused from his many prostrations that they were like a camel’s, and he wore a hair shirt. He was chosen as the first Bishop of Jerusalem after Pentecost. He wrote the Epistle bearing his name, and also wrote the first Christian liturgy, also named after him. Christ loved St. James especially and appeared to him separately after His Resurrection. St. James died a martyr, thrown down from the Temple when he confessed Christ before all the people.