I remember reading in a magazine that the biblical apostle James the Greater visited Ireland 400 years before Saint Patrick.

  • Is it true that he went on a mission to Northern Ireland? Forgive me if I overlooked something but if I google anything about the apostle James in Ireland a bunch of Saint Patrick day crap pops up.

  • Is there a book someone could point me to that tells about this? (optional)

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    Are you sure that the "biblical apostle James" really existed, first of all? What is the evidence of that, except the Gospel? On my opinion, this question does not qualify as a question on history. – Alex Mar 11 '15 at 21:03
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    @Alex : that would verge on conspiracy theories. No serious historian denies the existence of the apostles and the fact that they traveled to many places of the Mediterranean during the fundation of the early Christian churches. – vsz Mar 12 '15 at 7:18
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    @Alex: Do you honestly think that serious historians accept this based only on the Bible? You keep asserting that only the New Testament asserts that James existed, without bothering to actually check that out, which is kind of interesting given the fact that you're demanding evidence yourself. No, there is actual historical evidence! Of course, whether we should consider that evidence reliable is another matter. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 12 '15 at 12:33
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    @Alex Evidence.....I don't know, the fact that many people---including unbelievers--- gave accounts of him and the other apostles. That is like saying Jesus didn't exist when many pagan Romans admitted his existence. – JDSweetBeat Mar 12 '15 at 13:55
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    There is a very similar legend that apostle Andrew visited Kiev and and introduced Christianity in Rus. Seems evident that it was invented at some time after the actual introduction of Christianity there. But generally one cannot prove or disprove this sort of legends. – Alex Mar 12 '15 at 20:44

There is no credible evidence that the apostle James ever visited Ireland. According to Acts 12:1-22, James was beheaded in Jerusalem by Herod Agrippa, with no indication that he had traveled. Acts does include passages about other apostles' travels--most notably Paul, but also Philip in Samaria and Peter in Caesarea.

The fourth century church historian Eusebius mentions the early Christians' travels in spreading the gospel to Palestine and Antioch, Rome, and Egypt. Within the same chapter Eusebius mentions James' death in Jerusalem without suggesting that James had traveled.

Much later, a legend arose that James had gone to Spain to preach the gospel before returning to Jerusalem to be martyred. And even later--in the 17th century--Spanish chronicler Joseph Pellicer wrote that James had also spent time in Ireland.


Since England had not been invaded by the Romans at this time, and Ireland was beyond that, the odds are extremely unlikely that any such event took place. There are always legends created in far-flung areas of having Biblical 'celebrities' visit, but travel was not easy in those days.

Most evidence says that the James apostles were martyred in the Holy Land.

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    According to Wikipedia Britain was invaded first times even before Jesus' birth: "In the course of his Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar invaded Britain twice: in 55 and 54 BC". See e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar%27s_invasions_of_Britain – coderworks Mar 11 '15 at 19:11
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    Those were two quick raids, and would in fact make it even less likely that a traveller from Rome could move through Britain onward towards Ireland. – Oldcat Mar 11 '15 at 20:44
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    The Romans never invaded England. England did not exist. – Neil Kirk Mar 12 '15 at 1:54
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    Wiki has 44 AD for James' death and Claudius successfully invaded Britain in 43 AD. Julius Caesar's excursions a century before were not a proper invasion. – TheMathemagician Mar 12 '15 at 11:23
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    @NeilKirk: There's a quite obviously implied "what we now call" in there. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 12 '15 at 12:35

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