The Twelve Apostles

apostles_peterandandrewPeter and Andrew

The Apostles are featured in the handbell choir room. Two appear in each window with his symbols.

This window shows Peter and Andrew, one of the two sets of brothers among the Twelve. Peter’s crossed keys recall the Office of the Keys, spoken of in Matthew. The reversed cross is derived from the story of Peter being crucified upside down.

Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. Later he was directed to Jesus and became the first missionary. According to tradition he suffered martyrdom in Greece by crucifixion on an X shaped cross. He became the patron saint of Scotland and to this day his festival is celebrated in Greek and Roman churches.

apostles_judasandjamesJudas and James

Judas, or Jude, is one of the least known of the Apostles. In the inspired Epistle that bears his naem, he is also called Lebbaeus and Thaddaeus, both names meaning a beloved child.

Since his missionary travels supposedly led him far and wide over the sea, his most frequent symbol is that of a sailing vessel.

James, the sone of Alphaeus, is also called “James the Less” or, more accurately “James the Little One”. This is because of his small stature. His symbols include a saw crossed with a club, and a windmill. All these refer to his horrible martyrdom as recounted by historians. He was thrown from the top of a structure, either the Temple or a windmill. He survived this and afterward was stoned, beaten, and his body sawn in two.

apostles_matthiasandsimonMatthias and Simon

Matthias was chosen by the casting of lots to take the place of Judas. He accompanied the followers of Jesus from the time of Christ’s Baptism and was a witness of the resurrection. Because of this, he had qualifications for the apostleship. The choice was submitted to God, and when lots were taken, he was at once numbered with them. Nothing more is known of his history. However, he was said to have been stoned and then beheaded after missionary work in Judea. He holds a battleaxe. A spear and stones are included beside him.

Simon was a companion of Jude on his voyages. The fish on the book shows he was a fisher of men through the power of the Gospel. On the other side is a battleaxe crossed with an oar.

apostles_philipandbartholomewPhilip and Bartholomew

Philip, the Apostle, is a fellow-townsman of Andrew and Peter from Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. His symbol is the Tau Cross with a basket. It refers to his presence at the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. The last authentic notice we have of him is in Acts 1:13 after the resurrection. After this, tradition makes his life confusing and contradictory. The tall cross and spear shows a combination of his martyrdom and his missionary activity in Phrygia and Galatia.

Bartholomew is probably the surname of Nathanael, who was led to Christ by Philip. It is possible that for this reason, the name Bartholomew is linked with that of Philip by the first three evangelists. He has a flaying knife and an open Bible referring to his missionary activity and martyrdom.

apostles_matthewandthomasMatthew and Thomas

Matthew was a tax gatherer. He was staioned at Capernaum in the service of the Roman government. While sitting at the place of toll, he was summoned by Jesus to become His disciple. He immediately obeyed and left his business. Tradition says that he first preached among the Jews.

Matthew is shown writing the first New Testament Gospel. The bags of money recall his first occupation.

Thomas was called The Twin. When Jesus announced He was going to Jerusalem to suffer, Thomas said, “Let us also go that we may die with Him.” ¬†After touching the wounds of Jesus, Thomas carried the Gospel to India where he built a church with his own hands. This explains the carpenter’s square and why he is the patron saint of builders. A spear is also shown, referring to the pagan priest who killed him.

apostles_jamesandjohnJames and John

James the Great, brother of John, was one of the earliest and most trusted disciples of our Lord. After the resurrection he went to Galilee and Jerusalem. It is there that he is killed with a sword at the hands of King Herod Agrippa I. He was the first of the apostles to seal his testimony with his blood. He is shown as a pilgrim with a staff. The escallop shell of baptism is combined with a sword to make his symbol.

John, brother of James, was one of our Lord’s closest companions. Five books of the New Testament are ascribed to his pen. Following his banishment to the island of Patmos, tradition says he was freed and returned to Ephesus for his last days. He has a pen and a book symbolizing his role as Evangelist. The serpent emerging from the chalice refers to poisoned Communion wine given to him by his enemies. He escaped death when a serpent crawled from the chalice.