Thursday, December 2, 2010

Acts 29 - The Apostles

After the Holy Spirit descended on Penetecost the Apostles took the Great Commission to go to the ends of the earth seriously. They reached much of southern Europe, getting as far west as Spain, Southern France, and even the British Isles. Asia was reached as far east as India and as far south as north Africa. Saint John the Evangelist was the only one to die a natural death, the rest were martyred for preaching the Gospel. Much of their lives are not written down in the Bible, but through historical evidence and the Church preserving their stories in tradition, thankfully we are able to know about their missionary journeys. These Apostles are such a tremendous part of our Christian history. They went to the ends of the known world preaching a faith that got all but one martyred, and most of us don't even know all their names.

Saint Andrew (detailed bio of St. Andrew's life) was known as the "first-called" as he was the first to become a disciple of Christ. Before becoming a disciple of Jesus, he was a disciple of John the Baptist. From that discipleship it is believed that he was a life long ascetic and because he spent 20 years living in a cave in Romania. He preached the Gospel from Jerusalem to Persia, to China, to Russia, Etheopia, possible Scotland, and back again. He was likely the last of the Apostles to die. He was martyred by crucifiction on an X shaped cross. His feast day is November 30th.

Bartholomew, who was also known as Nathanael, has the distinction of being the first apostle to declare that Jesus was both the Son of God and the King of Israel. He would later preach in India and was crucified upside down, flayed, and his head removed. He was buried in Allanum, Armenia (modern day southern Georgia). Part of his relics are in Rome. His feast day is June 11th.

James the Greater, also known as the son of Zebedee, was the brother of John the Evangelist. He was one of the three Apostles to be chosen by Jesus to view the Transfiguration. He went to Spain delivering the good news. The book of Acts records that Agrippa I had James beheaded in the year 44. His relics are in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Spain) and is Spain's Patron Saint. His feast day is April 30th.

James the Lesser, also known as James the son of Alphaeus, was the brother of the Evangelist Matthew. He heard the Lord's words and witnessed His miracles. After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle James, Alphaeus, and the Apostle Andrew the First-Called made missionary journeys preaching in Judea, Edessa, Gaza, Eleutheropolis, proclaiming the Gospel, healing all sorts of sickness and disease, and converting many to the path of salvation. St James finished his apostolic work in the Egyptian city of Ostrachina, where he was crucified. His feast day is October 9th.

St. John the Evangelist was one of the sons of Zebedee. He, with his older brother, St. James, the Greater, became an apostle of the Lord. St. John was surnamed the "Theologian" because of the theological brilliance of his Gospel. He was one of the three apostles to witness the Transfiguration of Christ. He was "the one whom Jesus loved." He was the youngest of the apostles and the only one not to suffer martyrdom. After the Dormition, he went to Asia Minor in Ephesus; later he was exiled to Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation.

St. Jerome relates that when age and weakness grew upon him at Ephesus, St. John used to be carried to the assembly of the faithful and say only this words: "My children, love one another."

Jude is referred to in the Gospel texts as "Judas not the Iscariot." His surname Thaddeus means "he who renders praise." He was the son of Salome and the brother of James, "the brother of the Lord." His mother, Salome, was the daughter of Haggai, the son of Barachiah, a brother of St. Zachariah, the father of St. John the Baptist.

St. Jude preached in Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and at Ararat in Armenia with St. Simon, the Canaanite, where they underwent martyrdom. St. Jude was crucified and pierced with arrows. His feast day is June 19th.

St. Matthias, born in Bethlehem, was a descendant of the tribe of Judah. Holy Simeon the elder guided and instructed St. Matthias in the life of virtue. According to the book of Acts (1:23-26), St. Matthias was a constant attendant on our Lord from the time of His baptism until His ascension. According to St. Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius and St. Jerome, St. Matthias was one of the seventy disciples whom the Lord had sent out during His ministry. He was chosen by lot to replace Judas Iscariot. He would later be stoned to death. After his death, the Jews beheaded him in order to please the Romans. His feast day is August 9th.

Matthew, means "the gift of Yahweh." In his geneology of Christ, he emphasized the Lord's human nature and origin and showed that Christ was the Messiah by using Old Testament references. He composed the first Gospel in AD 42 in Aramaic in order to address Jewish converts in Palestine.

St. Matthew was the one who had invited Christ to dinner with which the Pharisees were indignant because of Christ's ritual pollution when eating with wrongdoers . Acknowledging his sinfulness, St. Matthew is said to have repayed fourfold to anyone he had overcharged, and he distributed his remaining possessions to the poor and followed after Christ. He was a witness to the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ and of His ascension.

St. Matthew preached in Palestine for eight years. Then he traveled to Syria, Media, Persia, and Ethiopia, and he died as a martyr by being burned alive. His feast day is November 16th.

Saint Peter was from Bethsaida of Galilee. He was the son of Jonas and the brother of Andrew the First-called. He was a fisherman by trade, unlearned and poor, and was called Simon; later he was renamed Peter by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who looked at him and said, "Thou art Simon the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas (which is , Peter)".

On be coming an Apostle, he followed Jesus from the beginning of his preaching up until the He was crucified, when, in the court of Caiaphas the high priest, he denied Jesus three times because of his fear of the Jews and of the danger at hand. After the Resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit, he preached in Judea, Antioch, and certain parts of Asia, and finally came to Rome, where he was crucified upside down by Nero. His feast day is June 29th.

St. Philip, an apostle from Bethsaida, obeyed the call of Christ and led Nathaniel to Him. He had a sister called Marianne, a virgin, who helped him in his preaching.

St. Philip preached the Gospel in Asia and suffered crucifixion (head downward). According to tradition, a grapevine grew at the place where he shed his blood. In the 6th century, his relics were transferred to Rome. His feast day is April 30th.

Saint Simon was from Cana in Galilee, and was known to the Lord and His Mother. Tradition says that he was the bridegroom at the wedding where the Savior performed His first miracle. After witnessing the miracle of the water which had been turned into wine, he became a zealous follower of Christ. For this reason, he is known as St Simon the Zealot.

He traveled to many places from Britain to the Black Sea, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. After winning many pagans to the Lord, St Simon suffered martyrdom by crucifixion. His feast day is May 10th.

St. Thomas was a Galilean by birth and a fisherman by trade. Upon hearing the good tidings of Christ, he left all and followed after Him, becoming one of the twelve apostles.

Claiming he would never believe that the Lord had risen from the dead unless he could actually touch the Lord’s wounds, he later confessed his faith in Him by exclaiming, "My Lord and my God." In so exclaiming, St. Thomas became the first to confess so explicitly the Lord's divinity.

According to tradition, the Spirit fell upon him to preach in India. The Syrian Christians of Malabar call themselves "Christians of St. Thomas" and claim to have been evangelized by him. He was martyred by being pierced with five spears. His tomb was known by St. John Chrysostom to be at Edessa in Syria.

St. John Chrysostom remarks of him: "Thomas, being once weaker in faith than the other apostles, toiled through the grace of God more bravely, more zealously and tirelessly than them all, such that he went preaching almost over nearly all the earth, not fearing to announce the Word of God to savage nations." His feast day is October 6th.


  1. See! I knew you could come up with better stuff than me! ;)

  2. I still have 20 days to go! I will take anything you give me.