Why Do Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. James the Greater in July

Why Do Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. James the Greater in July

Why Do Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. James the Greater in July

St. James the Greater is remembered on his Feast Day – July 25 – for being the first of Jesus’ twelve apostles to be martyred. But more importantly, he was one of only three witnesses to the Transfiguration – an event that Thomas Aquinas describes as the holiest miracle in all of Christianity because it happened to Jesus himself.

In the words of Matthew:

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.” Matthew 17:1-3

James – the Son of Thunder

St. James along with his brother John, are called “sons of thunder” in the Gospel of Mark, in all probability, referring to their fiery enthusiasm for spreading the word of Jesus. Less spoken about than Saints Peter and John, St. James was, nevertheless, known to be steadfast to the cause when others wavered and committed to the end.

James – Witness to the Transfiguration

Of the Transfiguration, the Gospel of Matthew tells us:

”While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

“When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.” Matthew 17:5-8

Both theologians and historians believe that the most likely location where this extraordinary event took place is Mount Tabor – an ancient elevation in northern Israel, at the edge of the Plain of Esdraelon in lower Galilee. This hill is also mentioned in the 13th century BC inscriptions of the Pharaoh Rameses the Second. The Old Testament mentions Mount Tabor as the site of the Israeli peoples victory under Barak over the Canaanites, led by Sisera, sometime in the 11th century BC.

Mount Tabor rises above the surrounding plains and other hills as the highest landform for miles around. It bears an impressive hemispherical shape with low brush adorning it. It is not difficult to see why so many important historical events have been associated with this hill.

This picturesque landscape is, today, home to the monthly ‘Miracle Walk’, where pilgrims join together to climb up the hillock and experience the same climb that St. James and his fellow apostles would have made when they bore witness to the Transfiguration of Jesus.

How to Pray for a Miracle at Mount Tabor

You, too, can be a part of these divine experiences by offering prayers for miracles at this site. If, by any chance, you are unable to make this vaunted pilgrimage to the holy lands yourself, The Salvation Garden praying community offers volunteers to undertake the arduous trip on your behalf, and offer any prayers that you may want said. Talk to our facilitators for a holy land prayer request fulfillment today.

Why Do Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. James the Greater in July

The Significance of Saints Peter and Paul to Christianity

The Significance of Saints Peter and Paul to Christianity

The Significance of Saints Peter and Paul to Christianity

Were it not for the remarkable efforts of Saints Peter and Paul in the early spread of Christianity, none of the majestic churches or the many beautiful lessons that we celebrate today, would have survived. Saint Peter, the Apostle, is considered the leader of the 12 original disciples of Christ throughout his ministry. Saint Paul is widely believed to have been the most influential Christian missionary proselytizing Gentiles into the early faith and establishing churches across Asia Minor.

Christians celebrate the feasts of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul on June 29, (if this falls on a Sunday, the feast is referred to as the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul). This day marks the occasion of their martyrdom although history does not record them being executed on the same day, probably under directions from Emperor Nero after the sacking of Rome in the first century, CE.

Why do We Celebrate Saint Peter?

Saint Peter, the Apostle, who went by the name of Simon, was a simple fisherman from Galilee. During the time of Jesus’ ministry, he is said to have lived in Capernaum, at the Northwest end of the Sea of Galilee along with his brother, Saint Andrew, where they used to practice their fishing trade along with Saints James and John.

All the Gospels unanimously recognize Peter, as the first among the Apostles, often asking Jesus on behalf of the others when the meaning of a parable was not clear, or answering temple officials when they wanted information, or giving his boat to Jesus to preach to the gathering crowd.

According to the Gospel of Matthew: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
(Matthew 16:18,19)

Saint Peter is variously depicted as being vacillating and unsure at times, just like you and me. He could be rash and hasty on occasion, and sometimes act in irritation or anger. However, he could also be resolute, and gentle but firm, capable of showing great love and loyalty.

Peter was unschooled in the laws of Moses and it is doubtful that he knew any Greek, but when he was entrusted with responsibility, he showed great maturity and capability. This is the reason why Jesus chose him to be the ‘rock’ (in Hebrew, Peter means rock) upon which he would build his church.

Why do We Celebrate Saint Paul?

Although not one of the original disciples of Jesus, Paul of Tarsus, who originally called himself Saul, was a self-proclaimed detractor and persecutor of the early Christians. According to the story, on his way to Damascus, he encounters a vision that would reverse his views entirely, and transform him into a lifelong and steadfast disciple of Christ.

Saint Paul was a contemporary of Saint Peter and by agreement, preached the message of Christ among the Gentiles or non-Jews, while Peter, and other apostles restricted their preachings to the Jews.

Unlike Peter, Paul was well-versed in the laws of the Pharisees, and skilled in the trade of tent-making. Of the 27 books of the New Testament, 13 are ascribed to Saint Paul. Half of the Acts of the Apostles deals with Paul’s life and works. It is to the letters left behind by Saint Paul to his followers, that the modern ideas of the Christian faith owe their origin.

”Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen! (Galatians 1:1-2:21)

If you wish to have these great patrons of the faith intercede for you in the devoutness of their faith, there’s no place better to do it than St. Peter’s Church in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel. We can take your prayer requests to the holy land of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Write to us today.

The Significance of Saints Peter and Paul to Christianity

What Changed My Life After Praying at St. Peter’s in Jaffa, Israel

What Changed My Life After Praying at St. Peter’s in Jaffa, Israel

What Changed My Life After Praying at St. Peter’s in Jaffa, Israel

St. Peter’s Church at Old Jaffa has been a beacon for Christians pilgrimaging to the Holy Land for centuries. Constructed by French monarch, Louis the IX in 1654 over an older citadel surviving from the Crusades, the Church has been destroyed two times and rebuilt the same number of times during its lifetime.

St. Peter’s Church Architecture

With its high vaulted ceiling, marble walls, and stained glass paintings that depict scenes from the biblical history of St. Peter, including the miracle-catch of fish, the handing over of the keys, and the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor, this church is the perfect spot for quiet contemplation and inspiration for prayer.

Much of the building was laid out by Spanish architects and designers, however remnants from the French include rooms in which Napoleon himself is said to have stayed during his campaigns in Egypt and Syria. History apart, this site is important to the Christian faith because it is here that St. Peter is said to have raised Tabitha from the dead and this church is dedicated to this apostle of Christ.

The church is a sight to behold when viewed from the South side at night with its looming entranceway and bell tower. Inside the church, the high ceiling means that the slightest sounds can be heard loud and clear.

The Spiritual Legacy of St. Peter’s

Despite these outer embellishments, St. Peter’s church is more than just a tourist attraction or a thing of curiosity. It is a testament to the most famous apostle of Jesus, who the others looked up to and gave way to when temple tax collectors wanted information from the disciples. Several accounts from the life of the apostles indicate that Peter was first among equals – at once a man of feeling and action and firmness and kindness, on the other.

It was Peter who possessed the insight and showed deep faith in the confession of Christ as the Son of God (Matthew 16:15–18; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20), and it was Peter who rebuked, and in turn was rebuked by, Jesus when the Master prophesied that he would suffer and die (Mark 8:32, 33). It was also Peter who manifested the temporary weakness of even the staunchest in faith when he denied Jesus as his Lord (Matthew 26:69–75; Mark 14:66–72; Luke 22:54–61). Later, however, with greater maturity, Peter discovered strength and, as he was charged by Jesus (Luke 22:31, 32), inspired others in strengthening their faith.

St. Peter, the Intercessor for Prayer Requests from Around the World

The trust that Jesus placed in Peter and his future role in spreading his teachings is displayed by the fact that Jesus chose Peter to witness the resurrection before any of his other apostles. Peter is often shown to be closest to Jesus and acts as his representative and spokesman on many occasions.

Because of this fact, St. Peter offers us the opportunity to act as an intercessor, pleading with Jesus, our Lord, on our behalf. As the head of the first church after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, Peter is the first leader of our communities in prayer. This is the proximity to the origins of the Christian church that acts as a symbol of devotion and faith for Christians worldwide. If you’re ever in Israel, this church ought to be an integral part of your pilgrimage.

Alternatively, you can be a part of prayers offered in the Holy Land, in the church of St. Peter at Jaffa, by sending in prayer requests to the Holy Land online.

The Salvation Garden is a praying community dedicated to making the Holy Lands of Jerusalem, accessible to believers around the world. If you somehow can’t make it to the lands where Jesus was crucified and resurrected, we can take your online prayer requests, print and hand-deliver them to select churches.

What Changed My Life After Praying at St. Peter’s in Jaffa, Israel

Bartholomew the Apostle from the Sea of Galilee

Bartholomew the Apostle from the Sea of Galilee

The Holy Apostle Bartholomew was born in Cana of Galilee and was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ.

Bartholomew the Apostle most known as related to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. After that day, he and the holy Apostle Philip started to preach the Gospel in Syria and Asia Minor. While they were spreading the gospel, they wandered through various cities, and then met up again.

In Mathew 10:2 it is written:

“These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him”.

Feast days

According to the Synaxarium of the Coptic Orthodox Church, his martyrdom is usually commemorated on the first day of the Coptic Calendar. This is the first day of the month of Thout, which is currently September 11, also corresponding to August 29 in the Julian Calendar. His feast is usually June 11 in Eastern Christianity and August 24 in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, Anglican Communion and both forms of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.

Ascension

He also witnessed the Ascension, according to the Acts 1:13, which says that “When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James”.

Preaching the nations

In each occasion he is named, he is in the company of Philip. After the Ascension, Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he also left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. After India, he went to the Greater Armenia.


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Jerusalem’s Saints

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Jerusalem’s Saints

This is a series on the Saints and Martyrs who lived close to Jesus.

We are starting with Saint Crispoldus and Saint Joanna.

Saint Crispoldus

Saint Crispoldus was the first Bishop of Bettona in Italy, and he was a native of Jerusalem. According to a legendary story, he was one of the chosen disciples who would save the world (according to Luke 10). Therefore, as one of Jesus’s disciples, he is known for the miracles he did. For example, it is said that he cured a man possessed by a demon. On a different occasion, he cured Valerius, and after that many people turned to Christianity. He is also known to kill a wolf that daunted people, which earned him favor among others.

Saint Crispoldus refused to honor and worship idols; therefore, he was arrested. He persistently refused to offer sacrifice to pagan gods and was finally executed together with his friend. His sister and 12 other women were also arrested when they attempted to give Crispoldus a proper Christian burial. Unfortunately, they were executed.

His memorial is observed on May 12.

Saint Joanna

Saint Joanna was Chuza’s wife, King Herod Antipa’s steward. Along with Mary and other women, they provided for Jesus and his disciples. Joanna and the other women used their personal resources and connections in different cities and villages in the Holy Land, while Jesus and his disciples travelled and preached.

St. Joanna was also one of the women who came to the tomb with spices to prepare his body for burial. However, by the time she and the other women arrived, they found that the stone had been moved and that the body was missing.

Her feast day is observed on May 24.


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The Saints of Caesarea

The Saints of Caesarea

Saint Agapius, Saint Asterius, and Saint Cornelius are known as the Saints of Caesarea. They lived in Caesarea, the Holy Land, and spread Jesus’ teachings and faith in God. They had to face the Romans and kept their true faith at all costs.

Most of our current knowledge regarding the early life of Christians in the Holy Land comes from Eusebius and his book The Martyrs of Palestine.

Saint Agapius

During the persecutions of Diocletian, Saint Agapius was arrested three times but released each time.  However, he was imprisoned after the fourth arrest. He was offered freedom if he renounced Christianity but he refused. As a result, he had to face a bear and other animals in the public arena. His bravery and strong faith stood by his side in the arena so he suffered injuries but not death. After long suffering and mauling by animals, stones were affixed to his legs and the man was thrown into the Mediterranean and drowned.
Saint Agapius’ feast days are observed on November 20 and August 19.

From Paganism to Christian Martyrdom

Saint Asterius of Caesarea was a Roman senator, a well-known man who became a Christian martyr. He lived during the reign of the emperors Valerian and Gallienus, who were both pagans. Even though he lived during the pagan regime with persecutions escalated against Christians, Saint Asterius maintained his faith. He is known to have expelled a demon with a prayer during a pagan feast. However, the main reason he was sentenced and beheaded was a Christian burial ceremony that he performed.
Saint Asterius’ feast days are observed on March 3 and August 7.

Saint Cornelius

Our Second saint was a Roman Priest, Saint Cornelius his name. He was elected as the Pope. And then succeeded Fabian after the papacy had been vacant for over a year in a reign when Christians were heavily persecuted. He condemned the suffering of Christians as a result of their faith. And later was exiled, suffered a lot of hardships and later was decapitated.
Some of his writings were fundamental to the unity of the Catholic Church. He asserted that the unity of the church was grounded in the authority of the Bishop.
Saint Cornelius’ feast day is observed on September 16.
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Who was Andrew the Apostle?

Who was Andrew the Apostle?

Saint Andrew and his brother Peter were the first disciples. In this article, we will learn about his activity with Jesus.

Saint Andrew and the Sea of Galilee

Saint Andrew, commonly known as Andrew the Apostle, was the brother of Saint Peter. Just like his brother Peter and their companions John and James, Andrew was originally a fisherman of the Sea of Galilee in the Holy Land.

According to the Gospels

In the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus left Nazareth and arrived at the Sea of Galilee, he was looking for his first disciples. Jesus was walking on the shore where he saw Peter and Andrew working with their nets and fishing. Jesus approached them with a proposal: instead of finding fish, he offered to help them find and guide people, “…Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
However, in a different account in the Gospel of John, it is stated that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist One day, Jesus walked by and John the Baptist declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). At this point, Andrew and another disciple of John decided to follow Jesus.

His work with Jesus

While there is little else about Andrew in the Bible, Christianity holds that he was one of the disciples who were very close to Jesus. According to the Gospel of John, it is Andrew who informed Jesus about the boy with loaves and fishes. Later, when Phillip wanted to consult Jesus about some Greeks who wanted to speak to Him, he had to talk to Andrew first. Lastly, Andrew was one of the disciples present during the Last Supper.
Andrew went on to preach the Good News in the Holy Land and in the surrounding regions. He was finally crucified in Patras, Greece.
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