Saint James, son of Alphaeus(Ἰάκωβος, Iakōbos in Greek) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He is often identified with James the Less and commonly known by that name in church tradition.
James, the son of Alphaeus, is rarely mentioned in the New Testament, but he is sometimes identified with James the Just, an important leader in the New Testament church. He is clearly distinguished from James, son of Zebedee, another one of the Twelve Apostles.
James, son of Alphaeus, appears only four times in the New Testament, each time in a list of the twelve apostles.
James, son of Alphaeus is often identified with James the Less, who is only mentioned three times in the Bible, each time in connection with his mother. Mark 15:40 refers to “Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses”, while Mark 16:1 and Matthew 27:56 refer to “Mary the mother of James”. James, son of Alphaeus may also be identified as James the Just.
Since there was already another James (James, son of Zebedee) among the twelve apostles, equating James son of Alphaeus with James the Less made sense. (James son of Zebedee was called “James the Greater”)
A tradition holds that Saint James, though strongly clinging to Jewish law, was sentenced to death for having violated the Torah. He was arrested along with an unspecified number of Christians and was subsequently beheaded by Herod in persecution of the church. In Christian art he is depicted holding a fuller’s club because he was martyred when beaten to death with a fuller’s club at Ostrakine in Lower Egypt, where he was preaching the Gospel