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Braided Bread for The Feast of St. Philip and St. James

Updated: May 1

A golden brown loaf of braided bread on top of a blue and white striped hand towel.

St. Philip and St. James were both early followers of Jesus and are considered to be two of Jesus’ twelve apostles but little is known about them beyond that. We celebrate them on the same day because even though they died at different times and in different places, their bodies were moved and brought to the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Rome.

St. Philip was one of the first disciples that Jesus called. Jesus called Phillip right after calling Andrew and Peter. Phillip then went and found his friend Nathanael and convinced him to come and see Jesus. It was Phillip who was asked by Jesus how to feed the three thousand to which Phillip gave the very practical response, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”

At the Last Supper, Phillip asks Jesus to “show us the Father and we shall be satisfied” to which Jesus responds, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Phillip? He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

St. Phillip followed Jesus as a faithful disciple and then became one of the Apostles, spreading the gospel and serving as a leader in the church. He was killed in Greece under the reign of the Roman emperor, Domitian. Tradition says he was crucified upside down, like James.

St. James, also known as James the Less, is also one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. He is known as “James the Less” to distinguish him from James the son of Zebedee and James, “the brother of the Lord.” He is referred to as James the son of Alpheus in the listing of the disciples. 

Both of them were martyred for their beliefs and devotion to Jesus Christ.

Ways to Celebrate the Feast of St. Philip and St. James

Read: John 14:6-14.

Since St. Phillip’s recorded interaction with Jesus involved bread, make bread with your children.

Braided Loaf Bread


3/4 cup warm water (95 to 110 degrees)

One 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast

3 teaspoons sugar

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 large eggs

cooking spray


1 large egg

1 teaspoon heavy cream

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

To make the dough: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the warm water, the yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, remaining 2 teaspoons sugar, and the salt. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast mixture, the remaining 1/2 cup warm water, the oil, and eggs. Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes, until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides.

Spray a large bowl lightly with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough to release the air. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each into a ball and then into a 15-inch-long rope.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the 3 ropes parallel to one another on the pan. Starting at one end of the dough ropes, carefully braid them. Pinch the ends to seal and tuck the ends underneath the braid so that only the braid shows.

Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise until pillowy, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream. Gently brush it over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the sesame seeds.

Bake until golden brown, about 28 minutes. Let the loaf cool for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 40 minutes, before serving.

Recipe from

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