Saint John the Apostle


Saint John, ܝܘܚܢܢ ܫܠܝܚܐ in Aramaic, יוחנן בן זבדי in Hebrew, Ἰωάννης in Koine Greek, ⲓⲱⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ in Coptic and Ioannes in Latin was born around the year 6 AD in Bethsaida (Galilee) and was the son of Zebedee and younger brother of James. According to tradition, his mother Salome was the sister of the Ever Virgin Mary, making Saint John and Saint James cousins of Jesus Christ. Saint John is considered the first of the two disciples (in John 1 35:39 we can read that he began to follow Jesus when John the Baptist called him the Lamb of God).


Saint John was one of the three witnesses to the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Saint Peter and Saint James with him), and one of the the same three that witnessed the Transfiguration. Saint John is also the disciple who called out a non-disciple from casting demons. It was Saint John who accompanied Saint Peter into the city for preparations of the Last Supper and Saint John alone (of the apostles) remained at the foot of the cross at Calvary. Saint John took Mother Mary into his care as his mother (John 19:25-27):


26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.”
27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Saint John's Gospel state the following:


"It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true."

Eusebius in the fourth century recorded in his Church History that Polycrates of Ephesus in the second century identified Saint John as the disciple who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord and identified him as the Beloved Disciple. Saint Augustine makes the same argument in his Tractates on the Gospel of John.


After the Assumption of Mary, Saint John travelled to Ephesus to preach the gospel and was listed as a Pillar of the Church by Saint Paul. The Emperor Domitian, in his persecution of the new faith, had Saint John submerged into a bat of boiling oil in Rome - he arose from the pot with no injuries. Tradition holds that many witnesses of this miracle were converted to Christianity on the spot. After this miracle, he was banished to the Greek Island of Patmos where he received his Revelation. In his later years, tradition holds that he taught and trained Saint Polycarp. Saint Polycarp then taught Saint Irenaeus, teaching him all he knew of Saint John and the teachings from the apostle. Saint Ignatius of Antioch was also a student of Saint John and would later be appointed by Saint Peter as the Bishop of Antioch.


It is believed Saint John died of old age at Ephesus, sometime around AD 98 during the reign of the Emperor Trajan.


Saint John is the author of the Gospel of John and four other books - the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation.




The feast day of Saint John the Apostle (with the official title of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist) is on December 27th, the third day of Christmastide. In the tridentine calendar he was commemorated on each day leading up to and including January 3rd, though this Octave was abolished by Pope Pius XII in 1955. In Artwork, Saint John is often portrayed as either an aged man with a gray beard (more common in the Byzantine art style) or a beardless youth (more common in Roman and European styles). He is also commonly depicted with an eagle, symbolizing the great heights of his writings.



Landscape with Saint John at Patmos Artist: Tobias Verhaecht, 1598

Saint John the Evangelist by Donatello

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