The word "Apostle" derives from the GreekApostello,"to send forth" or "to dispatch". The name Apostle denotes principally one of the twelve disciples who, on a solemn occasion, were called by Christ to a special mission. In the Gospels, however, those disciples are often designated by the expressions ofmathetai (the disciples) ordodeka(the Twelve) and, after the treason and death of Judas, even ofhendeka (the Eleven).
All of the Apostles, except Saint John, were in hiding during the Crucifixion of Our Lord, and all were allowed by God to redeem themselves by drinking from the same cup as Jesus, later in their lives. Saint John, who did not abandon Jesus at Calvary, died of old age. Two of the Apostles, John and Matthew, were also Evangelists who wrote the Fourth and First Gospels, respectively. The table below synopsizes various aspects of the twelve apostles.
St.Peter. Feast: June 29 Crucified, head down by Nero
A Galilean fisherman, the chief Shepherd of Christ's flock, was chosen by Him to be the Prince of the Apostles, and the Rock upon which He was to build His indestructible Church. Symbol: Crossed keys, silver and gold keys signify Saint Peter's divinely-given power of binding and loosing.
A follower at first of John the Baptist, then of Christ. Brother of Saint Peter, he preached the Gospel in Asia Minor and then in Greece, where he was crucified. Symbol: transverse cross, on which he was crucified.
The Apostle Jesus particularly loved, because of his great innocence and purity. It was to the care of this apostle that the crucified Christ entrusted His Blessed Mother. He was also one of the four Evangelists and the younger brother of Saint James. Symbol: Chalice, an allusion to Christ's words concerning Saint John: "Of My cup you shall indeed drink."
A Galilean, is remembered for telling Nathanael that he had found the Messiah, and for taking him to Christ. His preaching took him to Phyrgia, where he suffered martyrdom. Symbol: Latin cross, Saint Philip is pictured carrying the cross of Christ, which was the theme of his preaching
Believed to be the Nathanael whose innocence and simplicity won high praise from the lips of Christ when Philip brought him to our Lord. He suffered and died in Armenia. Symbol: Knife, the instrument which was used to flay him alive.
Famous for his refusal to believe that Christ had risen until he touched the wounds of His hands and side. Saint Thomas is said to have evangelized parts of Persia and India. Symbol: Builder's square, from an ancient story that Saint Thomas built a palace for King Guduphara in India.
Was a wealthy tax collector of Capharnaum when he was called to follow Christ. The first Gospel was written by him. He preached in Ethiopia, where he died a martyr's death. Symbol: Ax, the instrument of his beheading.
Was the brother of of Saint Jude and a cousin of Jesus. While serving as Jerusalem's first bishop, he was arrested by the Jews and killed by being hurled down from the Temple roof. Symbol: Fuller's club with which he was beaten after being thrown from the Temple roof.
A brother of Saint James the Less and a cousin of Jesus. Wrote an Epistle of the New Testament. Patron saint of "hopeless" situations. Symbol: Halberd, this long-handled and ax-like weapon was used by the Persian executioners of Saint Jude. Next =>
The brother of James and Jude, is surnamed the Zealot. He and Saint Jude are said to have preached in Egypt and Persia, and to have suffered martrydom for the faith in Mesopotamia. Symbol: Saw, he was martyred by being sawed into pieces. Next =>
Followed Jesus from John's baptism to the Ascension, was chosen to take the place of Judas aong the Apostles. Little is known with certainty of his life and martrydom. Symbol: Lance, the weapon of his martyrdom in southern Asia.
Saint James was the older brother of Saint John the Evangelist. Together they were known as the sons of Zebedee. James is called James the Greater because another younger apostle was named James, also. James is the patron saint of hatmakers, rheumatoid sufferers, and laborers.