Deacon-structing the 12 Apostles: Where Are They Now?

Deacon Pedro

October 26, 2020
Detail of The Martyrdom of St. Matthew by Caravaggio (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Well, we know where they are, but how much do we know about what happened to the Twelve after the Resurrection?
Since this coming Wednesday, October 28, is the Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, two Apostles of whom we know very little, I thought it would be good to try to compile some of what we know about the 12 Apostles. (NOTE: These are largely based on tradition and legends. It's difficult to know for sure what really happened to them.)
 
Simon Peter: He’s the one we probably know most about. As the leader of the Twelve, he is quite prominent in the Acts of the Apostles, though interestingly, he wasn’t the leader of the Church in any one specific area. There is a strong tradition which places his martyrdom in Rome during the reign of Nero and which also says that he was crucified upside down because he did not consider himself worthy to die in the same manner as Christ. St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican was built on top of the site venerated since ancient times as the place of his burial.
Peter has a long list of patronages including fishermen, bridge builders, sailors, and locksmiths, as well as several feast days: the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29; the Feast of the Chair of Peter, February 22; and the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul, November 18.
 
John: There is a tradition that he went to Ephesus, where he lived and likely wrote the three epistles attributed to him. According to Tertullian, while in Ephesus, John was condemned to death and thrown into a vat of boiling oil. When no harm came to him, he was banished to Patmos where he wrote the Book of Revelation. He was later pardoned and returned to Ephesus, where he died of old age. His tomb is located in the former basilica of Saint John at Selçuk, near Ephesus. There is a legend that says that John did not die and, like Mary, was assumed into Heaven. This is supported by the fact that he is the only disciple whose relics or body are not claimed by anyone.
St. John is the patron saint of many things, including friendships, authors, art-dealers, and theologians. His feast day is December 27.
 
James the Greater: He is the only Apostle whose death (around 44 AD) is described in Scripture:  “Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:1-2). His head is buried in the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of St. James in Jerusalem, in the place where he would have been martyred. Tradition says that James preached the Gospel as far as Spain, which is why the rest of his remains were thought to have been carried back to Spain where they currently lie in the Basilica of Santiago de Compostela (the name “Santiago” is Spanish for Saint James, having evolved from the Latin, Sancti Iacobi).
James is the patron saint of veterinarians, furriers, pharmacists, and woodcarvers, among others, and his feast day is July 25.
 
Andrew: Tradition says that he was sent to Scythia in central Eurasia. Other legends claim that he travelled as far as the Black Sea and up to Georgia and Kiev. Other traditions say that he is the one who founded the church in Byzantium, which became the church of Constantinople. Legend also says that Andrew was crucified in the city of Patras around 60 AD, on an X-shaped cross because, like Peter, he considered himself unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Christ. This X cross has become known as the “Saint Andrew’s Cross”. His remains are kept in the Basilica of Saint Andrew in Patras, Greece, but there are relics kept in other churches across Europe including St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.
Among many patronages, he is the patron saint of rope makers, farm workers, miners, pregnant women, and butchers, and his feast day is November 30.
 
Philip: Many of the post-Resurrection stories about Philip can be found in the apocryphal Acts of Philip. It recounts that Philip was sent with his sister, Mariame, and Nathaniel (Bartholomew) to Phrygia, Syria, and Greece. According to the legend, after hearing Philip preach and witnessing a miraculous healing in the city of Hierapolis, the wife of the proconsul was converted. The proconsul was not happy and had Philip, Mariame, and Nathaniel arrested and tortured. Philip and Nathaniel were crucified upside down. His relics rest in the crypt of the Basilica of the Sancti Apostoli in Rome.
Philip is the patron saint of hatters and pastry chefs, and his feast day, along with James the Less, is May 3.
 
Bartholomew/Nathaniel: The most popular tradition holds that after the Ascension, Bartholomew went to India. Other traditions say that he also went to Ethiopia and Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). After his journey to India, it is believed that Bartholomew went to Armenia with St. Jude Thaddeus. One tradition is that Bartholomew converted the Armenian king, and in retaliation, the king’s brother had him flogged to death (another version says he was skinned alive) and then beheaded. There is another tradition that says that he died in India. Most of his relics are found at the Basilica of San Bartolomeo in Benevento, Italy.
Among others, St. Bartholomew is the patron saint of dermatology, tanners, and tailors. His feast day is August 24.
 
Matthew/Levi: Ireneaus and Clement of Alexandria claim that Matthew preached the Gospel among the Jews around Judea before going to other countries. Some say Ethiopia, others Persia, Macedonia, and Syria. There is also a tradition that he died a martyr but with much disagreement about the details. There is a painting by Caravaggio, The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew, based on the legend that he was killed by the sword of a soldier on the orders of the Ethiopian king. His tomb is at the Salerno Cathedral in Italy.
He is the patron of accountants, bankers, tax collectors, and civil servants, and his feast is September 21.
 
Thomas/Didymus: It is strongly believed that he travelled as far as India, where there was a Jewish community, arriving around 52 AD. According to other traditions and scholars, Thomas may also have travelled to Indonesia and China. There are conflicting ideas about his martyrdom, apart from that he died in India around 72 AD. One tradition states that Thomas came into conflict with Hindu priests and was stabbed with a spear for insulting one of their deities. His tomb is at the San Thome Basilica in Mylapore.
He is the patron of architects, teachers, and academics. His feast is July 3.
 
James the Less: Not to be confused with James, the brother of John, the son of Zebedee. Traditionally, he is believed to have been the head of the Church in Jerusalem, where he was stoned to death around 62 AD. One tradition says he was thrown off the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem, and while he was still alive, the mob began to stone him, and in the end he was clubbed to death. Another tradition has him crucified in Egypt.
He is the patron of drugstores and pharmacists and of those who are dying. His feast day, along with Philip, is May 3.
 
Simon the Zealot: He is said to have travelled with St. Jude Thaddeus to Egypt, Persia, Armenia, and Lebanon. There are many differing claims about his martyrdom. Was he crucified in Samaria or sawn in half in Persia? Were he and Jude martyred together? One tradition has him preaching the Gospel as far as Britain. He is buried with Jude in the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome.
He is the patron of curriers, sawyers, and tanners. His feast day, along with Jude, is October 28.
 
Jude Thaddeus: He is usually associated with Simon the Zealot with whom he is said to have travelled after the Resurrection, although there is a tradition that places him with Bartholomew in Armenia. One tradition says he was killed with Simon in Beirut in 65 AD. He is often depicted with an axe, indicating the way in which he was killed. His remains are in a tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica with those of Simon.
He is patron of lost causes and desperate situations, police officers, and hospitals, and he shares the feast day with Simon, October 28.
 
Matthias: He joined the Twelve after the Resurrection, as a replacement for Judas Iscariot. According to the Book of Acts, he had been a follower of Jesus since the Baptism of John (Acts 1:21-22). According to tradition, Matthias preached the Gospel, first in Judea and then through Cappadocia and around the Caspian Sea. He may have made it all the way to present-day Georgia, along with Andrew. Another tradition has him in Ethiopia, where he died, and another says that he was stoned to death and beheaded in Jerusalem. His relics can be found at the Saint Matthias Benedictine Abbey in Trier, Germany, and also at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.
He is the patron of carpenters and tailors, and his feast day is May 14.

pedroEvery week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: pedro@saltandlighttv.org. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.