The Twelve Apostles
Our church has been named after the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. Their collective feast day is celebrated on 30th June. Read below to find out who the Apostles were.
Born in Bethsaida in Galilee, he was a fisherman and was named by Jesus Christ "Cephas" (in Greek, Peter), and called to be a fisher of men, an Apostle. In all lists of the Twelve he is named first, and belonged to the inner group of Apostles. He was present at the Transfiguration and at the Agony of Christ. When he professed his belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Lord promised that "Thou art Peter and on this rock will I build "My Church", meaning on the rock of faith in the Savior. Peter's confession of faith was soon followed by a sharp rebuke, from the Lord. Peter said that he would never leave his Lord, and was answered by the prediction of his triple denial, which later took place. Later, Peter made reparation for his triple denial by a triple protestation of love.
After the Ascension, Peter took the leadership of the Apostles. He spoke on the day of Pentecost and was the first to perform a miracle in the name of Jesus. He accepted Cornelius for baptism and thus opened the Church to the Gentiles. His authority is evident at the Apostles' Council at Jerusalem, although Paul rebuked him for giving in to the demands of the Jewish Christians to disassociate himself from the Gentiles.
Peter is the founder of the Church in Antioch. He probably went to Rome and was crucified head downward during the reign of Nero (54-68).
A disciple of John the Baptist, Andrew heard him refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God. Andrew asked for an audience and saw Jesus for a day, then proclaimed, "We have found the Messiah," in itself a creed and confession for the Christian faith. He brought his brother, Simon-Peter, to Christ. Although not one of the inner circle, he played the first role in several events which are recorded. Eusebius in his Church History states that Andrew later went to Scythia. According to tradition he was martyred at Patras, Greece, crucified on an X-shaped cross, which since has become known as St. Andrew's Cross. He is regarded as being connected with the writing of St. John's Gospel. According to tradition, he is the founder of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
James (The Greater)
He was the son of Zebedee. He, with his elder brother John and with Peter, constituted the privileged group - the inner circle of the disciples. James was present at the Transfiguration and the Agony in Gethsemane. His zeal was ardent and he and his brother were named by the Lord "Boanerges", which means "sons of thunder". James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I in A. D. 44, the first of the Twelve to suffer martyrdom. A theory that he preached in Spain is counter to the tradition of the Church and the Epistle to the Romans, 15:20 and 24, which concur that he did not leave Jerusalem. According to an old Spanish tradition, the body of St. James was transferred to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, where St. James was one of the most revered Spanish saints during the Middle Ages.
He was one of the inner circle with Peter and James. The son of Zebedee, he and his brother James were named the "sons of thunder". John is the author of the fourth Gospel, the Book of Revelation and three Catholic Epistles. He was imprisoned with Peter and later appeared in the Sanhedrin. John also was sent with Peter to Samaria, where they prayed that the converts might receive the Holy Spirit. In Jerusalem, he was present at the Council of the Apostles. John was "one of the two" with Andrew who first had an audience with the Lord, He was the one "whom Jesus loved" and who reclined on his bosom at the Mystic Supper.
Jesus from His cross entrusted His mother to John at the foot of the cross. He was the one who ran with Peter to the tomb on the morning of the resurrection, and who recognised the Risen Lord at the Sea of Tiberius, where our Lord spoke to him the words that he would not die (John 21:7).
According to tradition, he went to Asia Minor and settled in Ephesus. Later he was exiled to Patmos, an island.
He is the Apostle from Bethsaida who obeyed the call of Jesus and led Nathaneal to Christ. At the feeding of the 5,000 people, Jesus said to Phillip to buy bread, and Phillip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." Phillip on another occasion asked Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father" and Jesus retorted, "Yet you do not know me Phillip?" Phillip the Apostle should not be confused with Phillip, one of the seven Deacons. The Apostle Phillip preached the Gospel in Asia and suffered crucifixion, according to tradition.
His name is patronymic, meaning "son of Tolmai". Sometimes he is identified with Nathaneal whom Phillip led to Christ. According to the historian Eusebius, when Pantainus of Alexandria visited India between 150 and 200 A. D., he found there the Gospel according to Matthew left behind by Bartholomew one of the Apostles. According to tradition, Bartholomew was flayed to death at Albanapolis in Armenia.
He was the evangelist who was a Jew and a tax-collector referred to as Levi before he was called by Christ, Whom he followed. He is the author of
the First Gospel. In his genealogy of Jesus Christ, he emphasises the Lord's human nature and origin. Therefore, in Christian symbolism, Matthew has been represented by the figure of man (cf Rev 4:7). The icon of Matthew in the Orthodox Church is to be found in one of the four triangles which are formed by the arches connected to the dome of the Church.
He was called the Twin. On the way to Bethany He offered to die with Jesus. He interrupted the last discourse of Jesus with the question "We know not whither thou goest; how know we the way?". Thomas doubted the resurrection of Christ unless he were to touch the wounds of the Risen Lord, but later confessed his faith in Him: "My Lord and My God" - the first to confess so explicitly the Lord's divinity.
According to tradition, Thomas evangelised the Parthians. The Syrian Christians of Malabar called themselves "Christians of St. Thomas" and claimed they were evangelised by the Apostle Thomas, who was martyred and buried at Mylapore near Madras.
James (The Lesser)
He was the son of Alphaeus. Was he the Lord's relative? This is doubted. Was he James the younger (or the "lesser", Mark. 15:40)? There are insufficient reasons to establish this either. Nothing is known of him.
He was called Cananaean and Zealot, two terms of the same Hebrew word. According to the Apocryphal "Passion of Simon and Jude", both of them preached and underwent martyrdom in Persia. In the New Testament, Simon, one of the brethren of the Lord, was identified with Simon the Apostle. There were many others bearing the same name in the New Testament.
He is the Apostle referred to in the Gospel as "Judas of James", "Judas not the Iscariot". He also is known as Thaddaeus or Lebbacus. Jude was the brother of James (or the son of James RV), the "brethren of the Lord" - the Lord's relative. Jude is the author of the Epistle of Jude. The Apocryphal "Passion of Simon and Jude" depicted them in Persia where they preached and underwent martyrdom.
A selected Apostle, one of the Twelve, he betrayed Christ to the Jewish Sanhedrin - the supreme council and highest court of justice in Jerusalem - and kissed the Lord at the time of the arrest. He later committed suicide. The title "Iscariot", meaning in the Hebrew "man of Kerioth", a place in South Palestine, implies that Judas was from Judea. He was the only one from there, whereas the other Apostles were from Galilee. After his suicide the Apostles elected Matthias to replace him as one of the Twelve Apostles.