Who Are Sts. Philip and James?
Sts. Philip and James, also known as St. Philip the Apostle and St. James the Less, are two of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. Although they are often overshadowed by some of the more well-known apostles such as Peter, Paul, and John, Philip and James played important roles in the early Christian church.
St. Philip the Apostle is believed to have been born in Bethsaida, a small fishing village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. According to the Gospel of John, Philip was one of the first disciples to be called by Jesus. He is remembered for his role in the feeding of the five thousand, when he questioned Jesus about how they would be able to feed such a large crowd. Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat.” (John 6:5-7)
St. Philip’s question to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and it is sufficient for us,” is a significant moment in the Gospel of John. It highlights the importance of faith and trust in Jesus as the way to know and understand God. By asking to see the Father, Philip was expressing a desire for a tangible and visible sign of God’s presence. Jesus’ response that “he who has seen me has seen the Father,” emphasizes that he is the perfect image of the Father.
As Christians, we believe that through faith in Jesus, we can know God and have a personal relationship with him. St. Philip’s question and Jesus’ response continue to be relevant to us today as we seek to deepen our faith and understanding of God. We too, can ask God to reveal himself to us, but we must trust in Jesus as the way to truly know and understand him.
James, the son of Alphaeus, also known as James the Just. He is often referred to as “the Less” to differentiate him from the other apostle named James, the son of Zebedee. The nickname may have referred to his age or height, but its exact meaning is uncertain. James was recognized for his devoutness and dedication to prayer, and he played a crucial role in the early Christian community in Jerusalem.
Both Philip and James traveled extensively as missionaries, spreading the teachings of Jesus throughout the Mediterranean world. According to tradition, Phillip preached in Greece and Asia Minor, and was eventually martyred in Hierapolis, in present-day Turkey. James, on the other hand, remained in Jerusalem and became the leader of the Christian community there. He was also martyred for his faith.
Despite their different paths and ultimate fates, both Philip and James are remembered as models of faith and devotion to Christ. They remind us that following Christ is not always easy, but it is always worth it. Their lives and witness continue to inspire Christians around the world today, as we strive to live out our faith in a world that is often hostile to the Gospel.
The feast day for Sts. Philip and James is May 3.
As we celebrate the feast day of Sts. Philip and James, let us remember their example and pray that we too may have the courage to follow Christ wherever he may lead us. May their prayers and intercession strengthen us in our faith and help us to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel in our own time and place.
Patron Saint of …
St. Philip is the patron saint of hatters, pastry chefs, bakers, and cooks. St. James the Lesser is the the patron saint of apothecaries, pharmacists, druggists, dying people, fullers, and milliners.
Daily Mass Readings for the Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles
- First Reading – 1 Corinthians 15:1-8: Paul reminds the Corinthians of the Gospel he preached to them, emphasizing that Christ died for their sins, was buried, and rose on the third day according to the Scriptures. He also lists the witnesses of the resurrected Christ, including Peter, the Twelve, more than 500 brothers and sisters at once, James, and finally, himself.
- Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 19: This passage is a reflection on the glory of God as declared by the heavens and the firmament. Day and night continually proclaim His handiwork, and their message resounds throughout the earth and to the ends of the world.
- Gospel – John 14:6-14: Jesus speaks to his disciples, declaring that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through him. Jesus also promises that his followers will do greater works than he did, and that they can ask for anything in his name and he will do it.
Homilies and Reflections for the Feast of Sts. Philip and James, Apostles
A reflection for the Feast of Sts. Philip and James from Bishop Robert Barron. “Friends, today we read the wonderful and mysterious passage from the fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel. The disciples are gathered around Jesus at the Last Supper, abiding in intimacy with him, asking questions and seeking wisdom.’” Continue reading.
A video reflection from USCCB for the Feast of Sts. Philip and James. The desire for God is written on the human heart. We search endlessly for happiness, peace, and truth. These are expressions of our fundimental desire for God.
Quote and Social Media Graphic for the Feast of Sts. Philip and James
Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.John 14:8