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E07902: Jerome, in his On illustrious men, states that *James ('brother of the Lord', also known as James the Just, S00058) was buried near where he had been cast down off the Temple Mount, and rejects the opinion that he was buried on the Mount of Olives. Written in Latin in Bethlehem (Palestine), 392/393.

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posted on 2020-05-27, 00:00 authored by robert
Jerome, On Illustrious Men (De viris inlustribus) 2 (James the Just)

Triginta itaque annis hierosolymae rexit ecclesiam, id est usque ad septimum Neronis annum, et iuxta templum, ubi et praecipitatus fuerat, sepultus, titulum usque ad obsidionem titi et ultimam adriani notissimum habuit. Quidam e nostris in monte oliueti eum conditum putant, sed falsa eorum opinio est.

'And so he ruled the church of Jerusalem thirty years, that is until the seventh year of Nero, and was buried near the Temple from which he had been cast down. His tombstone with its inscription was well known until the siege of Titus and the end of Hadrian's reign. Some of our writers think he was buried in Mount Olivet, but they are mistaken.'

Text: Richardson, 1896. Translation: Richardson, 1892.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

James, 'brother of the Lord', also known as James the Just : S00058

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Bethlehem Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Jerome of Stridon

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



Jerome wrote this collection of very short biographies of 135 Christian authors at the beginning of his stay in Bethlehem in 392/393. Amongst the authors commemorated were several who suffered martyrdom (which Jerome records at the end of their biographies) and others (such as Eusebius of Vercelli and Hilary of Poitiers) who would later attract cult, but Jerome's purpose in writing De viris inlustribus was to show how many learned men there had been, and still were within the Christian church (he closes with a rather longer biography of himself!), rather than to encourage saintly cult. We have therefore only created database entries from the De viris inlustribus in the very few cases (such as this one) where Jerome happens to provide information that sheds significant light on the cult of a saint.


The tradition, upheld here by Jerome, according to which James was buried where he died, directly under the Jerusalem Temple, is attested by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 2.23.18. Jerome is the first but not the last author who mentions a presumed alternative grave-site on the Mount of Olives. A Latin text known as the Apparitio s. Iacobi (BHL 4099) tells of the discovery of the grave of James on the Mount of Olives in 351. This text was certainly written at a much later date, but it seems to be a translation of a Greek original, now lost. We cannot be sure whether Jerome knew it, but he evidently was familiar with this new location of James' burial, which he rejected. At the beginning of the sixth century, however, Theodosius, in his De locis sanctis 9, refers to the tomb of James on the Mount of Olives and does not mention any other location (see S07922). For the textual history of this tomb, see Cronnier 2015, 55-68. James was not the only biblical saint with two competing places of burial (see Wiśniewski 2019, 113-114).


Text: Richardson, E.C., De viris inlustribus (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Altchristlichen Literatur, vol. 14/1a, Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung, 1896), 1-56. Translation: Richardson, E.C., On Illustrious Men (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, vol. 3, Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892). Revised and edited by K. Knight. . Further reading: Cronnier, E., Les inventions de reliques dans l'Empire romain d'Orient (IVe-VIe S.), Turnhout: Brepols, 2015. Wiśniewski, R., The Beginnings of the cult of relics, Oxford: OUP, 2019.

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