St. James the Persian lived from the late 4th century to early 5th century in Persia. He was a Christian from a Christian family but had become an important and beloved member of the court of King Yazdegerd I who ruled from a.d. 399 to 421. Due to this honor and glory, St. James was seduced to worship idols, renouncing by his actions his Christian faith. In 421, the king’s son Bahram V succeeded Yazdegerd on the Persian throne. St. James’ family wrote him a letter reminding him of Heaven and Hell and asking him to return to spiritual sanity in Christian life and faith.
When St. James repented, he began to openly confess his faith in Christ, for which he was severely tortured in a most unusual way?by slow dismemberment of each of his fingers, toes, and limbs, one at a time. This was done in 28 installments, and St. James, fortified by Christ, spoke aloud beautifully in ardent prayer, offering each finger, toe, and limb with theological and spiritual understanding. Finally after many hours of torture and in front of a host of people, St. James was beheaded and brought whole and complete before Christ, the Just Judge of Heaven and earth.