Who were the Original 12 Apostles?

Saint Peter

St PeterSimon, the brother of Andrew, more generally known as Peter, was a  fisherman from the Sea of Galilee.  While journeying along with His Apostles, Jesus asks them:  "Whom do men say that the Son of man is?"  The Apostles answered, "Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets."   Jesus said to them, "But whom do you say that I am?"  Simon said:  "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God."  And Jesus answering said to him,  "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I say to thee: That thou art Peter [Kipha, a rock], and upon this rock [Kipha] I will build my church [ekklesian], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."  Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ (Matt 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 6:18-21). 

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Saint AndrewSt Andrew

As one of the Twelve, Andrew was admitted to the closest familiarity with Our Lord during His public life; he was present at the Last Supper; beheld the risen Lord; witnessed the Ascension; shared in the graces and gifts of the first Pentecost, and helped, amid threats and persecution, to establish the Faith in Palestine. 

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St James the GreaterSaint James the Greater

In all four lists the names of Peter and Andrew, James and John form the first group, a prominent and chosen group; especially Peter, James, and John.  These three Apostles alone were admitted to be present at the miracle of the raising of Jairus's daughter, at the Transfiguration, and the Agony in Gethsemani. 

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Saint JohnSt John

St John the Evangelist.  After the Resurrection John with Peter was the first of the disciples to hasten to the grave and he was the first to believe that Christ had truly risen (John, xx, 2-10).  When later Christ appeared at the Lake of Genesareth John was also the first of the seven disciples present who recognized his Master standing on the shore (John, xxi, 7).  The Fourth Evangelist has shown us most clearly how close the relationship was in which he always stood to his Lord and Master by the title with which he is accustomed to indicate himself without giving his name:  "the disciple whom Jesus loved."   St John's Feast Day is 27 December.

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Saint Philip

St PhilipSt.  Philip may have been a disciple of John the Baptist and is mentioned as one of the Apostles in the lists of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and in Acts.  Aside from the lists, he is mentioned only in John in the New Testament.  He was called by Jesus Himself and brought Nathanael to Christ.  Philip was present at the miracle of the loaves and fishes, when he engaged in a brief dialogue with the Lord, and was the Apostle approached by the Hellenistic Jews from Bethsaida to introduce them to Jesus.  Just before the Passion, Jesus answered Philip's query to show them the Father. 

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St BartholomewSaint Bartholomew

St.  Bartholomew is often identified with Nathaniel in the New Testament.  Many scholars identify him with Nathaniel.  The manner of his death, said to have occurred at Albanopolis in Armenia, is equally uncertain; according to some, he was beheaded, according to others, flayed alive and crucified, head downward, by order of Astyages, for having converted his brother, Polymius, King of Armenia.  On account of this latter legend, he is often represented in art (e.g.  in Michelangelo's Last Judgment) as flayed and holding in his hand his own skin. 

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Saint Thomas

St ThomasSt.  Thomas is remembered for his incredulity when the other Apostles announced Christ's Resurrection to him: "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25); but eight days later he made his act of faith, drawing down the rebuke of Jesus:  "Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed" (John 20:29). 

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St MatthewSaint Matthew

When summoned by Jesus, Matthew arose and followed Him and tendered Him a feast in his house, where tax-gatherers and sinners sat at table with Christ and His disciples.  This drew forth a protest from the Pharisees whom Jesus rebuked in these consoling words:  "I came not to call the just, but sinners."

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St James the LesserSaint James the Lesser

St.  James is also known as James the Lesser or James the Younger.  St.  Paul tells us he was a witness of the Resurrection of Christ; he is also a "pillar" of the Church, whom St.  Paul consulted about the Gospel. 

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St Simon the ZealotSaint Simon the Zealot

In the New Testament St.  Simon the Zealot is sometimes called Simon the Zealot because of the zeal he showed for the Mosaic law which he practiced before his call. 

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Judas Iscariot

Judas IscariotJudas Iscariot was the Apostle who betrayed Jesus.  Very little is told us in the Sacred Text concerning the history of Judas Iscariot beyond the bare facts of his call to the Apostolate, his treachery, and his death.  It is significant that he is never mentioned without some reference to his great betrayal.  Judas is best known for betraying Jesus to Roman soldiers with a kiss.  This act led directly to Christ's arrest, crucifixion, death and resurrection.  In other words, to the exact events which Christians believe Jesus appeared on Earth to fulfill.  For his part in helping to carry out God's divine plan, Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver.  Further rewards included a horrid death and universal castigation.  He also never became a Saint. 

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St ThaddaeusSaint Thaddaeus

St Thaddaeus was also known as "Judas the brother of James."   Jude is invoked in desperate situations because his New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them.  Therefore, he is the patron saint of desperate cases. 

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Who replaced Judas Iscariot as the twelfth apostle?

Saint MatthiasSt Matthias

After the Judas' betrayal of Jesus and death, Matthias, a long-time follower of Jesus but not one of the 12 apostles, was chosen to replace Judas.  Matthias was one of the seventy disciples of Jesus, and had been with Him from His baptism by John to the Ascension (Acts 1:21-22).  It is related (Acts 1:15-26) that in the days following the Ascension, Peter proposed to the assembled brethren, who numbered one hundred and twenty, that they choose one to fill the place of the traitor Judas in the Apostolate.  Two disciples, Joseph, called Barabbas, and Matthias were selected, and lots were drawn, with the result in favor of Matthias, who thus became associated with the eleven Apostles. 


Related Links

The Twelve Apostles:  Timid Men who Won the World

Mission of the Twelve Apostles

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St. Patrick's Church at Moody Air Force Base