This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27 -- Feast of Saint James Intercisus

James the Persian was a prominent military leader in the Sassanid dynasty of Persia.  He served King Yazdegerd I, with whom he was apparently quite friendly.  Yaz was not in the slightest opposed to Christians for most of his reign, nor to Jews.  The Jewish sages Rav Ashi and Mar Zutra were members of his imperial court.  Christians like James were also his courtiers, and he may have even contemplated conversion at one point. 

Parts is parts.
Then a knucklehead named Abdaas, the bishop of the imperial capital Ctetiphon, burned down the Zoroastrian temple and refused to pay for the restoration.  Lines were drawn in the sand and heads rolled across the lines.  James the Persian, caught up in the moment, sided with his boss and apostatized.  Not the best move for a saint, but hey, everybody makes mistakes, right? 

Yazdegerd, who had previously been tough one the Zoroastrians, wound up with the nicknames Al-Khasha (the Harsh) and Al-Athim (the Wicked).  Sometime around 420 he died, probably assassinated by the nobles of his court.  The story went around that he was slain by a fantastic horse that magically emerged from a river.  Or maybe a fever.  Or poison.  Yeah, any of those seem likely. 

There were a few years of warfare for control of the Empire, following which Yaz' son Barhram V took over.  James the Persian, who had gotten a letter from his wife and mom telling him not to come home anymore, started rethinking the apostasy thing.  Eventually he informed his new boss, Emperor Bahram, that he was a Christian after all. 

Nice togs, Jim. 
Bahram took it worse than expected.  Not that he was such a die-hard fire-worshipper or anything, but he just thought it was pretty ungrateful of General James to turn his back on the house deity.  The two had a long, difficult conversation, at the end of which Bahram told the guards to start taking parts off James. 

Intercisus means cut up into pieces.  Twenty-eight pieces, in this case.  All the folks in the city gathered in a large arena to see the execution; angels and demons also showed up to cheer and jeer. 

First the fingers were cut off one by one.  Then the feet, then the hands.  They the legs at the knees, followed by the hands, followed by the thighs, and then the arms.  He was still conscious, praying for strength, when he was just a head on a torso.  Disappointed, Bahram gave the order for the beheading. 

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