The Life of Saint James the Martyr

Named in the Martyrologium Romanum on Quinto Kalendas Decembris, 27 November.

Of Saint James, here and here.

James the martyr had to surname Intercisus, and was of noble lineage, but more noble by his faith. He was born in the region of Persia in the city of Elapis, he was come of christian people and had a good christian wife, and was well known with the king of Persia and was chief among the princes. And it happed, for the great love that he had to the king, he was deceived and brought to adore the idols, to whom he kneeled, and when his mother and his wife heard that, anon they wrote to him a letter in this wise: Thou hast forsaken him that is life in obeying to him that is mortal, and in pleasing him that is but dust, thou hast left the odour perdurable, thou hast changed truth into leasing in obeying him that is mortal, and hast forsaken the judge of them that be dead and of them alive, and know thou that from henceforth we shall be to thee strange, ne we shall not dwell with thee in no manner hereafter. And when James had heard this letter he wept bitterly, and said: If my mother that bare me, and my wife, be made so strange to me, then how much more shall I be estranged from God. Aud when he had sore tormented himself for this error, there came a messenger to the prince that said that James was christian, and then the prince called him and said: Say to me if thou be Nazarene. And James said: Yea, verily, I am Nazarene. And the prince said: Then art thou an enchanter; and James said: I am none. And when the prince menaced him with many torments, James said to him: Thy menaces trouble me nothing, for it ne is but wind blowing upon a stone, thy woodness passeth lightly through mine ears. To whom the prince said: Demean thee not disordinately, lest thou perish by grievous death. To whom James said: This ought not to be called a death, but a sleep, for anon after we shall rise again. And the prince said: Let not the Nazarene deceive thee saying death is nothing but a sleep, for the great emperors doubt it. And James said: We doubt nothing the death, for we hope to go from death to life. And then the prince, by counsel of his friends, gave this sentence upon James, that he should be cut every member from other, for to fear the others. And then some had pity on him and wept, and he said to them: Weep not for me, for I go to life, but weep on yourselves, whom torments perdurable be due unto. And the butchers cut off the thumb of his right hand, and he cried and said: O thou deliverer of Nazarenes, receive the branch of the tree of thy mercy, for the overplus is cut off, of him that tilleth the vine, for to burgeon and bring forth fruit more plenteously. And the butcher said to him: If thou wilt consent to the prince, I shall spare thee and give to thee medicine. To whom James said: Hast not thou seen the stock of the vine, that when the branches be cut off, the knot that remaineth, in his time when the earth achauffeth it, germeth and bringeth forth new buds in all the places of the cutting? Then if the vine be cut because he should burgeon and bring forth fruit in his time, how much more ought a man burgeon more plenteously in the faith that he suffereth for the love of Jesu Christ which is the very vine? And then the butcher cut of the forefinger. Then said S. James: Lord, receive two branches which thy right hand hath planted, he cut off the third, and James said: I am delivered from three temptations: I shall bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and, Lord, I shall confess thee with the three children that thou savedst from the chimney of fire, and Jesu Christ, I shall sing to thy name in the quire of martyrs. And then the fourth was cut off, and S. James said: O protector of the children of Israel, which in the fourth blessing were pronounced, receive of thy servant the confession of the fourth finger, like as the benediction was Judah. And then the fifth finger was cut off, and he said: My joy is accomplished. And then the butchers said to him: Spare thy life that thou perish not, and anger thee not though thou hast lost one hand, for there be many that have but one hand that have much honour and riches. And the blessed James said to them: When the shepherds shear their sheep, they take not only the right side, but also the left side, then if the lamb, which is but a brute beast, will lose his fleece for his master, how much more then I, that am a man reasonable, ought to be smitten in pieces for the love of God. And then the felon butchers went to that other hand, and cut off first the little finger, and S. James said: Lord, when thou wert great thou wouldst be made little for us, and therefore I yield to thee body and soul, which thou madest, and redeemedst with thy proper blood. Then the seventh finger was cut off, and he said: Lord, I have said to thee seven times in the day praisings. Then they cut the eighth finger, and he said: Jesu Christ was circumcised the eighth day for to accomplish the commandments ceremonial of the faith, and, Lord, let the mind of thy servant go from these uncircumcised, and that I may have the prepuce undefiled that I may come and behold thy face Lord. Then the ninth finger was cut off, and he said: The ninth hour Jesu Christ rendered his spirit in the cross to his father, and therefore, Lord, I confess me to thee in the sorrow of the ninth finger, and thank thee. Then the tenth finger was cut off, and he said: The tenth number is in the commandments of the law. Then some of them that were there said: Right dear friend, confess thou our gods tofore our prince so that thou mayst live, howbeit that thy hands be cut off, there be right wise leeches that shall well heal thee and ease thee of thy pain. To whom S. James said: God forbid that in me should be any false dissimulation; no man that put his hand to the plough and looketh backward, is not convenable to come to the kingdom of heaven. Then the butchers having despite, cut off the great toe of the right foot, and S. .James said: The foot of Jesu Christ was pierced and blood issued out. The second was cut off, and he said: This day is great to me tofore all other days; this day I converted, shall go soothly to the strong God. Then they cut the third and threw it tofore him, and S. James said, smiling: Go, thou third toe. to thy fellows, for like as the grain of wheat rendereth much fruit so shalt thou do with thy fellows, and shalt rest in the last day. The fourth was then cut off, and he said: My soul, wherefore art thou sorrowful, and why troublest me? Hope in God, for I shall confess to him that is the health of my cheer, and my God. The fifth was cut off, and he said: I shall now begin to say to our Lord digne praising, for he hath made me worthy fellow to his servants. Then they came to his left foot and cut off the little toe, and S. James said: Little toe be comforted, for the great and little shall have one resurrection, a hair of the head shall not perish, and thou shalt not depart from thy fellows. And after they cut off the second toe, and he said: Destroy ye the old house for a more noble is made ready. The third was cut off, and he said: By such cuttings shall I be purged from vices. And they cut off the fourth toe, and he said: Comfort me, God of truth, for my soul trusteth in thee. Then the fifth was cut off, and he said: O Lord, Lo! I offer and sacrifice to thee twenty times. And then they cut off his right foot, and S. James said: Now I shall offer a gift to God for whose love I suffer this. Then they cut off the left foot, and he said: Thou art he, Lord, that makest marvels; hear thou me, Lord, and save me. They cut off, after, his right hand, and he said: Lord, thy mercies help me. They cut off his left hand, and he said: Lord, thou art he that lovest the rightful. And they cut off the right arm, and he said: My soul, praise thee our Lord: I shall give laud to our Lord in my life, and shall sing to him as long as I shall live. And then they cut off the left arm, and he said: The sorrows of death have environed me, and I shall think against them. Then they cut off the right leg to the thigh, then S. James was grieved in great pain, and said: Lord Jesu Christ help me, for the wailings of death come about me, and he said to the butchers: Our Lord shall clothe me with new flesh so that your wounds shall never appear in me. And then the butchers began to fail and were weary. From the first hour of the day unto the ninth they had sweated in cutting his members. And after they came to themselves, and cut off the left leg unto the thigh, and then the blessed James cried and said: O good Lord, hear me half alive, thou Lord of living men and dead; Lord, I have no fingers to lift up to thee, ne hands that I may enhance to thee; my feet be cut off, and my knees so that I may not kneel to thee, and am like to a house fallen, of whom the pillars be taken away by which the house was borne up and sustained; hear me, Lord Jesu Christ, and take out my soul from this prison. And when he had said this, one of the butchers smote off his head. Then the christian men came privily and took away the body and buried it honourably. And he suffered death the fifth kalends of December.