Diversity Holidays and Celebrations in May (Week 1)

May 6, 2021

Did you know May 21st is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development? This day is set aside by the United Nations as an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to live together in harmony. The article goes on to say that “acceptance and recognition of cultural diversity – in particular through innovative use of media and information are conclusive to dialogue among civilizations and cultures, respect and mutual understanding.(1)

Let’s begin looking at a religious observance, the Feast of Saints Philip and James, one of the Catholic Feasts. This year, the Feast of Saints Philip and James is celebrated on May 3, 2021. What does this Feast commemorate?

An article posted by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception explained the celebration of the special feasts. “The Catholic Church had special feasts to honor only four of the apostles: Sts. Peter and Paul, St. John the Evangelist and St. Andrew, the brother of Peter. The Church memorialized the remaining apostles all together on June 29. But in the sixth century, the bodies of Sts. Philip and James were brought to Rome from the East and were laid to rest in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles. Since they arrived together at the same location, the Church instituted a single feast day for both apostles.

Who were Saint Philip and Saint James?

St. Philip was born in Bethsaida of Galilee and was one of the apostles. Mentioned only once in the Apostle lists of the Synoptic Gospels, Philip is a frequent character in John’s Gospel (John 1:43-51). Philip answered Jesus’ call to “Follow Me” and was instrumental in the call of Nathanael when he told Nathanael about Jesus. Later Philip the disciple and apostle of Christ came confused with Philip the Evangelist, one of the deacons of the early church.(2) Tradition states that Philip the Apostle went to Phrygia (which is modern- day Turkey) as a missionary for Christ and was martyred in Hierapolis. Saint James is also known as James the Less, was one of the Twelve chosen by Jesus. he is also known as James the Minor, James the Little, or James the Lesser.

Saint James is also identified by some as the brother of Jesus. According to legend, Saint James was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and was at the Council of Jerusalem. Tradition has always recognized Saint James as the author of the Epistle that bears his name. Internal evidence based on the language, style and teaching of the Epistle reveals its author as a Jew familiar with the Old Testament, and a Christian grounded in the teachings of the Gospel. External evidence from the early Fathers and Councils of the Church confirmed its authenticity and canonicity.(3)


1 United Nations World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development at: https://www.un.org/en/observances/cultural-diversity-day Retrieved March 16, 2021.

2 Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. “Saint Philip the Apostle”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 20 Aug. 2020, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Philip-the-Apostle. Accessed 16 March 2021.

3 Catholic Online, “St. James the Lesser”, https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_ id=356. Accessed 16 March 2021.

Next Week: Continuation

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