11 May is the feast day of Sts Philip and James the Less.

By Livia Lupi

11 May is the feast day of Sts Philip and James the Less. These two apostles are celebrated on the same day because their relics were brought to Rome together and buried in the church of the Twelve Apostles in the sixth century. 

St Philip was born in Bethsaida, the same town where St Peter and St Andrew also lived. He was called by Jesus to become one of his apostles and afterwards preached in Scythia. When he reached Hierapolis in Phrygia he was martyred by being crucified, perhaps upside-down. However, another legend describes his martyrdom by beheading.

St James is called the Less to distinguish him from St James the Great, who appears to have been taller. According to St Jerome and St Epiphanius, Jesus entrusted the Church of Jerusalem to St James the Less, who became the first bishop of the city. He reached old age, but was stoned and then clubbed to death during the reign of emperor Nero.


Reference: Traditional Catholic Liturgy, Salve Maria Regina


Guariento d’Arpo, Life of St Philip, 1361-65, Choir Chapel, Eremitani, Padua. Fresco.

Duccio di Buoninsegna, Sts Philip and James, front panels of the Maestà, 1308-1311, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena. Tempera on wood. 

Giuseppe Mazzuoli, St Philip, 1711, Basilica of St John Lateran, Rome. Marble. 

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