James of the Marches

St. James of the Marches, O.F.M.

Saint James of the Marches by Francisco Zurbarán
Born ca. 1391
Monteprandone, March of Ancona, Papal States
Died 28 November 1476
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
Venerated in Roman Catholicism
(Franciscan Order)
Beatified 1624 by Pope Urban VIII
Canonized 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII
Major shrine Sanctuary of St. James of the Marches
Monteprandone, Ascoli Piceno, Italy
Feast 28 November
Attributes Depicted holding in his right hand a chalice, out of which a snake is escaping
Patronage Patron of Monteprandone, co-patron of Naples, Italy

St. James of the Marches, O.F.M., (ca. 1391 – 28 November 1476) (Italian: Giacomo della Marca)[1] was an Italian Friar Minor, preacher and writer.[2]

Early life

He was born Dominic Gangala in the early 1390s to a poor family in Monteprandone, then in the March of Ancona, (now in the Province of Ascoli Piceno) in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. As a child, he began his studies at Offida under the guidance of his uncle, a priest, who soon afterwards sent him to school in the nearby city of Ascoli Piceno. He later studied at the University of Perugia where he took the degree of Doctor in Canon and Civil Law. After a short stay at Florence as tutor for a noble family, and as judge of sorcerers, James was received into the Order of Friars Minor, in the chapel of the Portiuncula, in Assisi, on 26 July 1416. At that time, he took the religious name of James. Having finished his novitiate at the hermitage of the Carceri, near Assisi, he studied theology at Fiesole, near Florence, with St. John of Capistrano,[3] under St. Bernardine of Siena.[2] He began a very austere life fasting nine months of the year. St. Bernardine told him to moderate his penances.[3]

Priest and inquisitor

On 13 June 1420, he was ordained a priest and soon began to preach in Tuscany, in the Marches, and in Umbria; for half a century he carried on his spiritual labours, remarkable for the miracles he performed and the numerous conversions he wrought. He helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus.[3] From 1427, James preached penance, combated heretics, and was on legations in Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, and Bosnia. He was also appointed inquisitor against the Fratelli, a heretic sect that dissented from the Franciscans on the vow of poverty, among other things.[4] In Bosnia, he was also commissary of the Friars Minor there. As such, he combated the heresies that he found there, which earned him the hostility of its ruler, King Tvrtko II, and even more of his wife, Queen Dorothea, whom James accused of trying to poison him.[5]

At the time of the Council of Basle, James promoted the reunion of the moderate Hussites with the Catholic Church, and later that of the Greek Orthodox at the Council of Ferrara-Florence.[2] Against the Ottomans, he preached several crusades, and at the death of St. John Capistran, in 1456, James was sent to Hungary as his successor. He instituted several montes pietatis (literally, "mountains of piety": nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects), and preached in all the greater cities. He was offered the bishopric of Milan in 1460, which he declined.[4]

St. James belonged to the Observant branch of the Friars Minor, then rapidly spreading and stirring up much controversy. In this task, he encouraged reforms in the Order of Friars Minor. How much he suffered on this account is shown in a letter written by him to St. John Capistran.[6] King Tvrtko II was a major opponent of James's reforms in Bosnia, and was probably strongly influenced in that regard by Queen Dorothy.[5]

Under Pope Callistus III, in 1455, he was appointed an arbiter on the questions at issue between the Conventuals and Observants. His decision was published 2 February 1456 in a papal bull, which pleased neither part. A few years later, on Easter Monday 1462, James, preaching at Brescia, uttered the opinion of some theologians that the Precious Blood shed during the Passion was not united with the Divinity of Christ during the three days of his burial. The Dominican friar, James of Brescia, the local inquisitor, immediately summoned him to his tribunal. James refused to appear, and after some troubles appealed to the Holy See. The question was discussed at Rome during Christmas 1462 (not 1463, as some have it), before Pope Pius II and the cardinals, but no decision was ever given.[4] James spent the last three years of his life in Naples, and died there on 28 November 1476.


Confessione, 1476

His writings have not yet been collected. His library and autographs are preserved in part at the Municipio of Monteprandone (see Crivellucci, "I codici della libreria raccolta da S. Giacomo della Marca nel convento di S. Maria delle Grazie presso Monteprandone", Leghorn, 1889).

He wrote "Dialogus contra Fraticellos" printed in Baluze-Mansi, "Miscellanea", II, Lucca, 1761, 595-610 (cf. Ehrle in "Archiv für Litt. u. Kirchengeschichte", IV, Freiburg im Br., 1888, 107-10).

His numerous sermons are not edited. For some of them, and for his treatise on the "Miracles of the Name of Jesus", see Candido Mariotti, O.F.M., "Nome di Gesù ed i Francescani", Fano, 1909, 125-34.

On his notebook, or "Itinerarium", See Luigi Tasso, O.F.M., in "Miscellanea Francescana", I (1886), 125-26: "Regula confitendi peccata" was several times edited in Latin and Italian during the fifteenth century. "De Sanguine Christi effuse" and some other treatises remained in manuscript.


James was buried in Naples in the Franciscan church of Santa Maria la Nova, where his body remained until 2001. At the instigation of the provincial minister (Franciscan superior) of the Marches region, Father Ferdinando Campana, O.F.M., James's body was relocated to Monteprandone, where it remains incorrupt and visible to the public today. He was beatified by Pope Urban VIII in 1624, and canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726. Naples venerates him as one of its patron saints. His liturgical feast day is observed by the Franciscan Order on 28 November. He is generally represented holding in his right hand a chalice, out of which a snake is escaping – an allusion to some endeavours of heretics to poison him or, less likely, to the controversy about the Precious Blood.[7]

See also

Sources and References

  1. Also known as Dominic Gangala, Jacopo Gangala, James della Marca, James Gangala.
  2. 1 2 3 Oliger, Livarius. "St. James of the Marches." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 4 Feb. 2013
  3. 1 2 3 Foley O.F.M., Leonard, "St. James of the Marche", Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Franciscan Media ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7
  4. 1 2 3 "St. James of the Marches", Catholic News Agency
  5. 1 2 Fine, John Van Antwerp (1975), The Bosnian Church: Its Place in State and Society from the Thirteenth to the Fifteenth Century, New York: Columbia University Press, p. 206
  6. Nic. Dal-Gal, O.F.M., in "Archivum Franciscanum Historicum", I (1908), 94-97.
  7. Santi e Beati "San Giacomo della Marca" (Italian)
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John of Korčula
Vicar of Bosnia
Succeeded by
John of Waya
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