Nowadays St James is best known through the 'Camino de Santiago' the long walk through France and Spain to his shrine at Compostella on the Atlantic coast in Spain.
James was one of Jesus' close group of friends along with Peter and John. He was always among the group who were called to witness Jesus' times of glory and pain. He was also with the Lord in the garden on Holy Thursday night.
He was the first of the apostles to be put to death being beheaded by Herod Agrippa in AD 42. It is said that Herod saw that the stoning of Stephen pleased the Jews so he decided to behead James as a sort of bonus for them.
The gospel for the feast shows the real humanity of the apostles. James and John's mother goes to Jesus and asks that they sit, 'one on your right and one on your left, in your kingdom.'
Then the other apostles are angry: they all want a piece of the action. The human-ness of the apostles is nice to see. We all struggle with ambition and greed and all the other human traits and Jesus continues to love us through it all!