A powerful preacher

Born into a poor Italian family in 1391, James studied civil and canon law, then became a Franciscan friar. In one of those associations that often crop up in the lives of the saints, he studied under St Bernardine of Siena – who told him to ease his austere life a little.

James preached in several areas, especially the Marches in central Italy, and was renowned for performing miracles and helping people towards the Lord. According to some accounts, God brought about 250,000 conversions through St James’s preaching.

Against heretics

James’s gift for preaching, and his holy life, led the pope to appoint him Inquisitor of the Fraticelli. This sect, claiming to be inspired by St Francis of Assisi, lived in extreme poverty. They angrily criticised Rome, and argued that the wealth of the Church was scandalous.

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