Saint James Intercisus, (+421) was a fifth century martyr from the East.
James was a Persian soldier who rose in the ranks to become a great favorite of King Yezdigered I. When this king began to persecute Christians, James did not have the courage to confess his Catholic faith. He was too afraid to lose the King’s friendship and his prominent position at court. So he apostatized. He gave up his faith and denied Christ (or at the very least, pretended to do so, which is nevertheless mortally sinful).
James’ wife and mother were broken-hearted. They had remained steadfast in the Faith and tried everything in their power to dissuade James from a path towards eternal damnation. Yet their efforts were to no avail. Thus they instead shed copious tears before heaven and offered many prayers and penances on James’ behalf. When King Yezdigerd died, they renewed their efforts. They wrote a strong letter to James, warning him to change his ways for he would otherwise suffer the fires of hell forever. They chastised him for having renounced his Heavenly King before the worldly king of Persia. He had been a coward, but some goodness and piety remained in his heart. Their letter had a profound effect upon him. He suffered a deep crisis of conscience and underwent a deep conversion, wishing to unite himself once again with one true Living God. He began to stay away from the royal court and publicly showed contrition for having given up the Faith.
Hearing this 'disturbing news,' the new king, Bahram V, sent for James. Yet this time James was filled with the Holy Ghost’s gift of fortitude. He refused to hide his faith but openly professed it. “I am a Christian,” he boldly said. The king accused him of being ungrateful for all the honors his father had bestowed upon him. “And where is your father now?” St. James calmly answered! Reading between the lines, King Bahram was incensed that anyone would dare suggest his father was suffering in hell. The enraged king threatened to put James to a terrible death, but the saint replied, “May I die the death of the just!”
The King and his council condemned James to die, but only after all his limbs should be cut off. Yet by now his fears were gone and he was steeled by grace. He triumphantly exclaimed, “This death which appears so dreadful is very little for the purchase of eternal life.” Then he told the executioners, “Begin your work.” Each time a finger was sawed off, St James rejoiced and thanked God, praying, “Savior of Christians, receive a branch of the tree.” Sadly the crowd that gathered to witness this spectacle included many Christians who urged him to renounce the Faith and worship the sun! They could not bear to see him suffer such excruciating pain. Yet with every cut limb he unceasingly declared his faith that his body was being made an offering to the Living God, who would one day raise it in glory.
This great martyr was surnamed “Intercisus,” which means “hacked to pieces” in Latin, in memory of his heroic death. He was slowly cut into twenty-eight pieces – first his finger, then his toes, and so forth. He survived the loss of all his limbs before being ultimately beheaded.
St. James Intercisus is the patron saint of lost vocations and torture victims.