The Bible records that James, the Lord’s brother, has now taken a role of leadership among the Christians in Jerusalem, along with the apostles Peter and John. Herod Agrippa has recently returned to Judea, having spent years in Rome as a trusted companion of the insane Roman emperor, Caligula. As the newly appointed King of Jews, Agrippa is very supportive of the Jewish priests and leaders, and has begun to take drastic measures against the Christians on their behalf.
In 44 A.D., just before the Feast of Unleavened Bread signals the beginning of Passover, Agrippa arrests and executes James, the brother of John. Without a trial, he is beheaded. Agrippa also has Peter arrested, and plans to execute him at the conclusion of the Passover.
As the story begins, Mary, the Lord’s mother, has recently died. She has lived in the home of John, the apostle, since the crucifixion, as Jesus instructed from the cross. John’s mother, who is Mary’s sister, Salome, has lived in her son’s household as well.
With the leadership of the Christian Church in peril, Mary Magdalene, trusted disciple of Jesus, is drawn back to Jerusalem to offer sanctuary, but she comes too late to save James. the brother of John, or Simon Peter.