Saint James of the Marches, Confessor

November 28

Today is the feast day of Saint James of the Marches.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint James of the Marches (Giacomo della Marca, 1391-1476), Franciscan friar, missionary, preacher, and opponent of heresy. The life of Saint James is remarkable for his commitment to defense of Church doctrine, his tireless preaching and conversions of sinners, miracle working, and austerity.

James Gangala was born into an extremely poor family at Montebrandone (in the Marche of Ancona), in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. Drawn to the Lord, he began his studies at Offida under the guidance of his uncle, a priest, who soon afterwards put him to school at Ascoli. At the University of Perugia he took the degree of Doctor in Civil Law. After a short stay at Florence as tutor in a noble family, and as judge of sorcerers, James was received into the Order of the Friars Minor, at the age of 25. Studying under Saint Bernardino of Siena, James was widely recognized for his oratory, delivering both forceful and effective sermons, and converting thousands of souls. Ordained at age twenty-nine, James was sent on mission with Saint John Capistrano.

James and Saint John of Capistrano preached a crusade against the Turks, who had become masters of Constantinople and were terrorizing Western Europe. At Buda he effected the miraculous cessation of a furious sedition by simply showing the crucifix to the people; the rebels themselves took him upon their shoulders and carried him through the streets of the city. At Prague he brought back to God many who had fallen into error, and when a magician wanted to dispute with him, he rendered him mute and thus obliged him to retire in confusion. He traveled through the northern Provinces, into Germany, Dalmatia, Hungary, Poland, Norway and Denmark and many other places; he went without any provisions other than his confidence in God. If he found no aid or was without lodging he rejoiced in his union with Lady Poverty, to whom he was joined by his religious profession.

Noting his orthodoxy, Pope Saint Martin V appointed him inquisitor to root out heretical sects that were growing in power throughout Italy. He continued his travels, preaching, working against heresy, and attempting to reconcile various branches of the Franciscan Order. He attended the Council of Florence in 1438, working diligently to reconcile the Eastern and Latin Churches, with little success.

Inspired by his apostolic example, more than 200 of the noblest young men of Germany were impelled to enter the Franciscan Order. The crowds who came to hear him were so great that the churches were not large enough to accommodate them, and it became imperative for him to preach in the public squares.

At Milan he was instrumental in converting 36 women of bad repute by a single sermon on St. Mary Magdalen. It is said that he brought 50,000 heretics into the bosom of the Church, and led 200,000 unbelievers to baptism. In addition, God granted St James such wisdom, that popes and princes availed themselves of his services, seeking counsel from him. He possessed the gifts or miracles and of prophesy in great measure, yet his humility surpassed all those distinctions.

Saint James founded several monasteries in Bohemia, Hungary, and Austria. Especially devoted to the Precious Blood of Jesus, he, himself, was brought up on heresy charges during the Dominican Inquisition in 1462. The Pope intervened, ordering the case put on permanent hold, with no decision ever rendered on his statements. However, during the course of the inquisition, James was the victim of attempted assassination twice, both times in the form of a poisoned chalice (as he is frequently depicted in art).

Saint James spent the last three years of his life at Naples, and was buried there in the Franciscan church of San Maria la Nuova, where his body is still to be seen, preserved beneath the altar. Numerous miracles have been reported through his intercession, both while he lived and subsequent to his death.

Pope Benedict XIII canonized Saint James of the March in 1726.  Naples venerates him as one of its patron Saints.

Image: Saint James of the Marches (wiki)

Research by REGINA Staff


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