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Who is James the Lesser?

Q. On July 25th we celebrate the Feast of St. James the Greater, one of the Twelve Apostles. Why is he called “the Greater,” while the other Apostle James is called “the Lesser”?

A. The two apostles identified as “James” in Scripture are distinguished there as “James the son of Zebedee” and “James the son of Alphaeus” (see Matthew 10:2–3). In tradition they came to be called “the Greater” and “the Lesser” as a further distinction. These monikers did not refer to their relative importance, but instead most likely implied either “older” and “younger” or “taller” and “shorter.”

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