JAMES (IAKOVOS) THE PERSIAN
Concerning the name of the great Martyr Iakovos the Persian, in English translations it is erroneously translated as “James” the Persian, but we will preserve the erroneous James because most English-speaking people are familiar with him as James the Persian even though his correct name is Iakovos. Which more correctly translates into Jacob. This is also true of the biblical book of James; for in the original Greek his name is also Iakovos.
James was born of Christian father and mother and married a Christian wife. The ruler of Persia, Isdegeris was cruel and vicious in his persection of Christians, seeking to compel them to worship his blasphemous idols. However the king of Persia had great admiration and affection for James and elevated him as a noble. Through much flattery King Isdegerdis successfully induced James to sacrifice to his idols. King Isidegeris and his son Bahram had great love for James and did not want to be separated from him. They treated him as a brother for he was well mannered and came from a prominent family. However they planned to lure him into their impiety by getting him to worship their gods, not too easy a task as James had been a Christian from his childhood. At first James did resist their attempts, until he succumbed to their many flatteries and benefits, which caused him to fall into sin and adore the king’s false gods in his sad delusion.
His mother and his wife heard that James had fallen into this error and denied Christ, so they wrote him as very strong letter of rebuke urging him to repentance by abandoning the worship of idols, and return to the true worship of Jesus Christ. The letter, touched the depths of James’ heart, which caused him to repent bitterly with an outpouring of tears regretting his great sin of denying Christ and idol worship. The merciful Lord recognized His sincere repentance and readily accepted it. Energized by this James, filled with faith and courage, went before the king where he courageously confessed Christ as the only true God whom he worshiped with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
The King was enraged, but remembering their previous friendship he flooded James with many flatteries and gifts, also he threatened him with promises of extreme punishment and torment. But the King was ineffective for James now was thirsty only for martyrdom, causing the King to sentence him to terrible torture and death.
James was turned over to the executioners and they tied his hands and feet telling him: “Behold what will happen to you for your disobedience. We have been instructed to cut of your members one by one, your finger, hands, feet, arms, ankles, knees, and finally your head. Therefore come to reason before you taste these horrors.” Some of James palace friends urged him to have pity on himself and not receive such a horrible death. James replied to them: Do not weep for me O wretched ones, but weep for yourselves and your children for you will go to everlasting condemnation with your gods. I, however, for one day of pain, shall inherit the kingdom of my Lord Jesus Christ and the ineffable joy of eternal life.
The executioners then proceeded to torture James the Persian, first by cutting off his thumb, as the martyr looking up toward heaven, he said: Lord Jesus Christ, the hope of all those who are helpless, the hope of all the hopeless, and the strength of the weak, receive the first branch of this tree by your mercy. For as the vineyard gives forth leaves when it trimmed, thus will I appear at your judgment seat, safe and upright on the day of resurrection. When they cut off his second finger, he said: Receive, O Lord, the second branch of the tree that your right hand has planted. Then as they cut off his third finger, he said: With the three servants in the furnace, I sing to you and honor you O Lord with the choirs of martyrs, I sing praises to your holy name. As they cut off his fourth finger he said: You who accepts praise from the four beasts, accept the suffering of these four fingers. At the fifth; he said: May my rejoicing be as great as that of the five wise virgins at the marriage. At the sixth, he said: Praise be to you Lord, who did at the sixth hour stretch out your most pure arms upon the Cross, and has made me worthy to glorify you with these six fingers cut off for your sake. At the cutting off of his seventh finger, he said: Like David, who glorified you seven times a day, so too do I glorify you with these seven fingers cur off for your sake. At the eighth he said: You did rest on the eighth day, O Lord. At the ninth, he said: Lord, at the ninth hour you did give your spirit into the hands of your Father, my Christ, and I offer you thanks for the suffering of this ninth finger. At the tenth, he said: I sing unto you Lord, upon a ten-stringed lute and I bless you that you have made me worthy to endure the cutting off of the fingers of my two hands, for the Ten Commandments written on tablets of stone.
With what glorious and wonderful bravery, faith and love for Christ was James heart filled. They proceeded to cut off his knees, ankles, arms, and every other part of his body, but his countenance was radiating joy brighter than the sun. James composed more blessings as each of his body was cut off until his holy head was severed.
We rejoice in James the Persian! Great and wonderful martyr who is now adored and glorified throughout heaven and earth!