Emily M. DeArdo


Catholic 101: Those "screwball apostles"

Catholic 101Emily DeArdoComment

a continuation of the Catholic 101 series

Mother Angelica called the 12 Apostles "screwball apostles" a lot. It always made me laugh. 

This is one of my favorite things to teach the kids, because the apostles were a motley bunch. Fishermen, tax collectors, married and single men...who dropped everything to follow Jesus.

The Apostles always give me hope, because in the Gospel they're continually doing stupid things. They don't understand Jesus a lot of the time. I can sort of imagine Jesus taking a deep breath when talking to them. You guys still don't get it?! 

In class, we break the apostles into three weeks, so we can let them ferment in the kids' minds, and not throw too many names at them at once. But here, you get all of them at one time. Historical fact about all of them can be hard to come by, so sometimes we just have historical guesses about what happened to them. 

Peter : Simon Peter, the "rock", the leader of the apostles. Andrew's brother, he was a fisherman who worked with his brother on the boats. Jesus healed his mother-in-law, but the Gospels never make any mention of Peter's wife. He betrayed Jesus three times the night of Holy Thursday, and tradition says he wept for that betrayal every day of his life. Peter went to preach the Gospel in Rome, where he was crucified upside down, since he didn't consider himself worthy to be crucified the same way as Christ.  He was the first Pope--and tradition says he was also the longest reigning pope. His feast day is June 29.  

Andrew: Simon Peter's brother; a disciple of John the Baptist. Also a fisherman. He is the patron saint of Scotland and was crucified in an X-shape--hence the flag of Scotland bearing the X-shaped cross, the Saltire. His feast day is November 30. 

James the Greater: Called "Greater" because he was taller than the other James. (yes. For all time, we will know that one was taller than the other.) John's brother, one of the "sons of thunder". Son of Zebedee and Salome, he was a fisherman along with his father and brother. James preached the Gospel in Spain, and is buried at Santiago de Compostela, which is still the site of many pilgrimages today (people walk the Camino to Santiago still, today, as seen in the film The Way.)  His feast day is July 25. 

John: The "disciple Jesus loved", John was the brother of James the Greaterand was also a fisherman. He wrote the Gospel of John, the Johnnine Letters, and the book of Revelation. He was the only apostle present at Christ's crucifixion, and took care of the Virgin Mary after Jesus's death and subsequent ascension. He was the only apostle to die of old age, on the island of Patmos (he was exiled there during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Domitian.). Hie feast day is December 27. 

Philip: Like Peter and Andrew, Philip was from Bethsaida, and was also a disciple of John the Baptist. The Gospels don't tell us what his profession was. He preached in Greece and was crucified upside down, like Peter. His feast day is May 3. 

Bartholomew: Also identified with Nathaniel in the Gospels, he was from Cana. He was a missionary to India, where he left a copy of the Gospel of Matthew, and also traveled to Armenia, where he was flayed alive and crucified. In Michelangelo's The Last Judgment, Michelangelo paints the apostle holding his flayed skin. It's also a self-portrait of the artist. His feast day is August 24. 

Bartholomew, holding his flayed skin, is to the lower right of Christ. 

Bartholomew, holding his flayed skin, is to the lower right of Christ. 

Thomas: The famous "doubting Thomas", who refused to believe in the Resurrection until Christ appeared before him and told him to put his hands in the nail marks. He traveled to India to preach the gospel, and is the patron saint of that country. Thomas was killed accidentally when a fowling shot hit him, instead of its target! His Feast Day is July 3. 

Matthew: A tax collector, Matthew also wrote the Gospel of Matthew. Born in Galilee, he invited Jesus to his house for a feast, and became one of the twelve. 

Caravaggio, The Calling of St. Matthew 

Caravaggio, The Calling of St. Matthew 

Tradition says Matthew preached the gospel to the Jewish community in Judea before going to other countries. We aren't sure how--or when--he died. His feast day is September 21. 

James (the Less): Son of Alpheaus.  He wrote the Letter of James and was the first Bishop of Jerusalem. He was thrown from the roof of the temple in Jerusalem, and his body clubbed after he died. His feast day is May 3. 

Jude/Jude Thaddeus: He was a cousin of Jesus; his mother Mary was the Virgin Mary's cousin. Author of the Epistle of Jude; he preached the gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Libya. He is the patron saint of lost/hopeless causes. He was martyred in Beirut around 65 AD. His feast day is October 28. 

Simon: Sometimes called "Simon Zebedee" to distinguish him from Simon Peter. Legend says he was martyred by being sawed into pieces. 

Judas: "The Iscariot". He betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin for 30 pieces of silver, and committed suicide early on the morning of Good Friday. He was replaced in the group of 12 by Matthias. (Feast Day May 14)