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Biography of St. John the Apostle

Saint John the Apostle was one of “the Twelve” closest disciples of Christ. John and his older brother James worked in their father’s fishing business in partnership with Peter and Andrew.  One fateful day, while mending their nets, Jesus called them to follow Him.  Our Lord nicknamed John and James the “sons of thunder” because of their temperaments.  This is shown in their wishing to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans who rejected Jesus, and in their impetuous willingness to drink the cup of suffering that was to be our Saviour’s destiny.


John, James, and Peter formed the inner circle of Christ’s disciples.  They were privileged to be at the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the Transfiguration, and the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Only John and Peter were delegated to make preparations for the Last Supper.  John was also the only apostle who did not forsake our Saviour during His Passion; the “beloved disciple” stood at the foot of the cross, where Christ made him the guardian of His Mother.

After Pentecost, John shared in Peter’s preaching and even imprisonment.  Tradition tells us that after Mary’s Assumption John settled in Ephesus.  He was later taken to Rome and plunged into boiling oil but miraculously suffered no injuries.  He was then banished to the Greek island of Patmos, where he had the vision recorded in the Book of Revelation.  Eventually John returned to Ephesus where he died of natural causes; the longest living apostle and the only one not to suffer a martyr’s death.

John is traditionally credited with authoring the Gospel of John, three epistles, and the Book of Revelation.  He is often depicted in art as a young man holding his gospel or, borrowing from the vision of Ezekiel (1:10), symbolized by an eagle because his gospel soars as it dwells on Christ’s divinity.


Saint John the Apostle is invoked against burns, poisoning, and foot problems.  He is the patron saint of authors, booksellers, burn victims, art dealers, editors, friendships, government officials, notaries, printers, scholars, tanners, theologians, and more.  His feast day is December 27.

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