James, son of Alphaeus, was the lesser known of Christ’s twelve apostles, two of whom bore the name James. Not to be confused with James, son of Zebedee, James the Lesser is only mentioned three times in the Gospels. James’ mother, Mary, was a sister or close relative of the Blessed Mother and therefore James is sometimes called a brother of Jesus.
James wrote the first Catholic Epistle around the year 50 A.D. He held a high position in the early Christian Church and was the Bishop of Jerusalem. He served as counsel to St. Paul and Paul wrote that James witnessed the resurrection of Jesus. Even the Jews that martyred St. James held him in high regard, labeling him James the Just. St. James the Lesser is depicted in Christian art holding a fuller’s club, the instrument used to deliver the blow that killed him. St. James the Lesser is patron saint of pharmacists and the dying.