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Our Lord & Holy Virgin Mary   Crucifixion   Feasts   Disciples   Martyrs and Monks   Evangelists & Pillars of Faith   Events & Old Testaments

Disciples Icons:

St. Andrew

The First-called Apostle

disciple-andrewSt. Andrew was a native of Bethsaida, a town in Galilee. He was the son of Jonah, a fisherman, and brother to St. Simon Peter, the Apostle. His name means “courageous.” Choosing the celibate life, he was a disciple of St. John the Baptist. After St. Andrew heard St. John exclaim, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” which was St. John’s testimony concerning Jesus’ Messiahship, St. Andrew left John and followed Christ (Jn. 1:35-42). By so doing, he became the first disciple summoned into the Lord’s service.

He had a special knack for engaging individuals and introducing them to Christ. He brought his brother, St. Simon Peter, to Christ (Jn. 1:41), led a little lad with five loaves and fishes to Christ (Jn. 6:8), and with St. Philip, the Apostle, introduced some Greeks to Him (Jn. 12:20-22). Christ used to lodge in St. Andrew’s and St. Peter’s house when He preached in their hometown.

He preached in such Eastern lands as Asia Minor, and Macedonia. According to tradition, he was martyred at Patras in Achaia, where he was crucified on a cross in a shape of an “X,” the first letter of the word, “Christ,” in Greek.

An ancient hymn implores: “Most gloriously, let us praise the brother of St. Peter, the Apostle Andrew, the first of all the disciples, the beholder and servant of Him Who is the Word, for he enlightened the nations and crucified, met his end as a disciple of the Master.”

The icon shows him carrying a scroll representing his preaching the Good News unto many nations.

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St. Bartholomew

Also known as Nathaniel the Apostle

disciple-bartholomewHe was one of the twelve apostles and a native of Cana in Galilee. Since Bartholomew means “son of Tolomai,” a patronymic rather than his real name, he is considered to be the same Nathaniel mentioned in the Gospel of St. John. Of this Nathaniel, a companion of St. Philip, Christ testified that he was an Israelite…incapable of deceit. When he first encountered Christ, he confessed Christ’s Divinity, declaring: “Thou art the Son of God!” (Jn. 1:44-52).

He preached the Gospel in Asia, then in India and finally in Armenia, where he died a martyr. He was crucified upside down, but an earthquake arose as a result. In fear, the persecutors, finding him alive, took him down. From there, he went to India, where he preached and translated the Gospel of Matthew in the Indian language. He also preached in Mesopotamia, Persia.

After that, he moved to Armenia, where he cured the king’s daughter of madness. This made Astyages, the king’s brother, envious, so he took St. Bartholomew, flayed and beheaded him in the Armenian town of Ourbanopolis.

A hymn dedicated on his behalf chants: “God Who seeth all things beforehand, perceiving thy mind in a manner divine, chose thee and enrolled thee in the choir of the apostles, O most lauded Bartholomew, illumining thy heart with grace.”

The icon shows him carrying a scroll representing his preaching the Good News unto many nations.

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St. James

Also known as The Lesser

disciple-james-lesserSt. James was one of the twelve apostles. He is surnamed “the lesser” to distinguish him from James the son of Zebedee since he was the shorter of the two and the younger.

He became an eyewitness and a minister of Christ. Having received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles at Pentecost, he went out to the gentiles to preach Christ and guide the erring to the path of salvation.

Aflame with the fire of divine zeal, he burned up the thorns of ungodliness, smashed idols to pieces, destroyed their temples, healed divers illnesses, drove evil spirits out of people and brought a great multitude of people to Christ.

He was called the “Divine Seed” because he sowed the seed of the Word of God in men’s hearts, planted faith and grew piety.

The lot fell upon him to preach in Eleutheropolis and the surrounding area. He suffered death by stoning and then beheaded.

A hymn dedicated on his behalf on the mouth of Christ, states: “Go forth, O James, sowing the seed of repentance on the earth and watering it with doctrinal teachings. Show forth My grace to the world, for I am the Creator Who spoke to the prophets; I Who alone know what is in the heart.”

The icon shows him carrying a scroll representing his preaching the Good News unto many nations.

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St. James

Also known as The Greater

disciple-james-greaterSt. James was one of the sons of Zebedee. He and his younger brother, St. John the Theologian, both fishermen by trade, became apostles of the Lord. The two brothers were named “Boanerges” which means “sons of thunder” because of their warm and impulsive temper. St. James was surnamed “the Greater” because his greater physical stature distinguished him from St. James, “the Lesser” and he was older. He was one of the three apostles to witness the Transfiguration of Christ, the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the agony in the garden on Holy Thursday night.

He attained prominence in the city of Jerusalem where he became the recognized leader of the Church (Acts 12:17). He was one of the authors of the books of the New Testament, which bears his name.

Being persuaded by the Jews to initiate a persecution against the Church of Christ, Herod Agrippa beheaded St. James at Jerusalem; thereby St. James became the first of the twelve to suffer martyrdom (Acts 12:1-2).

A hymn dedicated on his behalf chants: “On hearing the Divine voice calling you, O glorious James, you disregarded the love of your father and ran with your brother to Christ and altogether with him you were counted worthy to behold the Lord’s Divine Transfiguration.”

The icon shows him carrying a scroll representing his preaching the Good News unto many nations.

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St. John

The Theologian

disciple-johnOne of the sons of Zebedee, he, with his older brother, St. James, the Greater, became an apostle of the Lord. St. John was surnamed the “Theologian” because of the theological brilliance of his Gospel. He was one of the three apostles to witness the Transfiguration of Christ, the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the agony in the garden of Gethsemane. He was “the one whom Jesus loved.” He was the youngest of the apostles and the only one not to suffer martyrdom.

He witnessed all of Christ’s sufferings and was the one unto whom Christ entrusted His Mother at the foot of the cross.

After the Theotokos’ repose, he went to Asia Minor in Ephesus; later he was exiled to Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation.

St. Jerome relates that when age and weakness grew upon him at Ephesus, St. John used to be carried to the assembly of the faithful and say only this words: “My children, love one another.”

According to tradition, one of his disciples, Prochorus, who was also one of the seven deacons of the Church of Jerusalem and one of the seventy disciples commissioned to preach by our Lord, accompanied him on all his journeys until his repose. It is believed that St. John dictated his Gospel, the Apocalypse, and his three epistles to Prochorus who committed them to writing.

A hymn dedicated on his behalf chants: “As the beloved disciple of Christ, you were counted worthy to recline your head on His breast. As a theologian, evangelist and mystic, O John, you are acclaimed and your name is magnified.”

The icon shows him carrying a Book representing the Gospel he wrote.

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St. Matthew

The Evangelist

disciple-matthewA Jew and a tax collector, St. Matthew is also referred to as Levi and the Son of Alphaeus. His name, Matthew, means “the gift of Yahweh.” In his geneology of Christ, he emphasized the Lord’s human nature and origin and showed that Christ was the Messiah by using Old Testament references. He composed the first Gospel in AD 42 in Aramaic in order to address Jewish converts in Palestine.

St. Matthew was the one who had invited Christ to dinner with which the Pharisees were indignant because of Christ’s ritual pollution when eating with wrongdoers (Mt. 9:9-13). St. Jerome says that a certain inner radiance and air of majesty appearing in the countenance of our Redeemer pierced his soul and attracted him.

Acknowledging his sinfulness, St. Matthew recompensed fourfold to anyone he had overcharged, and he distributed his remaining possessions to the poor and followed after Christ. He was a witness to the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ and of His ascension.

After receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, St. Matthew preached in Palestine for eight years. Then he traveled to Syria, Media, Persia, and Ethiopia, and he died as a martyr.

A hymn dedicated on his behalf states: “We magnify you, O holy apostle and evangelist Matthew, and we honor the pangs and labors whereby you struggled in the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ.”

The icon shows him carrying a Book representing the Gospel he wrote.

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St. Matthias

The One Who Replaced Judas

disciple-matthiasSt. Matthias, born in Bethlehem, was a descendant of the tribe of Judah. Holy Simeon the elder guided and instructed St. Matthias in the life of virtue.

According to the book of Acts (1:23-26), St. Matthias was a constant attendant on our Lord from the time of His baptism until His ascension. According to St. Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius and St. Jerome, St. Matthias was one of the seventy disciples whom the Lord had sent out during His ministry. He was chosen by lot to replace Judas Iscariot.

Disbelieving Jews stoned him at the place called Bethlaskila (that is to say, “the house of those slain by stoning”). After his death, the Jews beheaded him in order to please the Romans, as though the apostle of Christ had been an opponent of Caesar.

A hymn dedicated on his behalf proclaims: “O Apostle Matthias, you completed the divine choir from whence Judas had fallen; and by the divine brilliance of your discourse, you have driven away the gloom of the madness of idolatry with the grace of God. Make supplications now, that He grant unto our souls peace and great mercy.”

The icon shows him carrying a scroll representing his preaching the Good News unto many nations.

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St. Peter

The Apostle

disciple-peterSt. Peter was born in Bethsaida in Galilee and was the brother of Andrew, the “First-called.” Both were fishermen by trade. He became one of Christ’s apostles, and when he professed his belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Lord promised that “Thou art Peter and on this rock I will build my Church,” meaning on the rock of faith in the Savior.

With James and John, sons of Zebedee, he was accounted worthy to behold the Transfiguration. Christ predicted St. Peter’s triple denial of Him while He was secretly tried by the Sanhedrin. Later he made reparation by a triple protestation of love as recorded at the end of St. John’s Gospel.

He was the first of all the disciples to be accounted worthy to behold the risen Lord, as Sts. Luke and Paul both relate (Lk. 24:34 & 1 Cor. 15:4-5). After the Ascension, St. Peter spoke to a great multitude on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41). He accepted Cornelius for baptism and thus opened the Church to the Gentiles. Not only his hands and words worked miracles, but his very shadow worked healing (Acts 5:15). Together with the other apostles, he set down 85 canons of ecclesiastical regulations. St. Peter also wrote two New Testament epistles.

From Jerusalem, he preached in Cesearia of Palestine, and finally in Rome, where he was crucified head downwards as he had requested.

The icon shows him carrying a scroll representing his preaching the Good News unto many nations.

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St. Phillip

St. Philip, an apostle from Bethsaida, obeyed the call of Christ and led Nathaniel to Him. He had a sister called Marianne, a virgin, who helped him in his preaching.

Christ sought an opportune time to reveal His Divinity to St. Philip who saw in Christ only lofty human perfection and did not realize He was Divine as well. Therefore, at the feeding of the 5,000 people, Christ said to him to buy bread. St. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred dinarii would not be enough to buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” He witnessed that from the hand of the Lord, as from a granary, everyone was satisfied; thus, our Lord brought him to a greater knowledge of Himself. St. Philip on another occasion asked Christ, “Lord, show us the Father” to which request our Lord answered, “I have been with you this long and yet you do not know me, Philip?”

St. Philip preached the Gospel in Asia and suffered crucifixion (head downward). According to tradition, a grapevine grew at the place where he shed his blood. In the 6th century, his relics were transferred to Rome.

A hymn dedicated on his behalf chants: “As a true disciple and friend of God, O Philip, you preached Christ unto the world. Wherefore, as an apostle and witness of the Savior, you endured torments and death for His Name’s sake.”

The icon shows him carrying a scroll representing his preaching the Good News unto many nations.

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St. Thaddeus

Also known as Jude

disciple-thaddeusHe is referred to in the Gospel texts as “Judas not the Iscariot.” His surname Thaddeus means “he who renders praise.” He was the son of Salome and the brother of James, “the brother of the Lord.” His mother, Salome, was the daughter of Haggai, the son of Barachiah, a brother of St. Zachariah, the father of St. John the Baptist.

St. Thaddeus preached in Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia, at Ararat in Armenia with St. Simon, the Canaanite, where they underwent martyrdom. St. Thaddeus was crucified and pierced with arrows.

He is the author of the Epistle of Jude. Therein, he taught that it was not enough for salvation to be converted from paganism to Christianity, but in addition to faith it is necessary to do good works befitting Christians and worthy of salvation.

A hymn dedicated on his behalf chants: “Emulating the Primal Goodness, the natural and all-divine life, you were a man good in essence, O Jude, who are called, the brother of the Lord; and you showed yourself to be a true disciple of Christ by the grace of your character and the beauty of your demeanor.”

The icon shows him carrying a scroll representing his preaching the Good News unto many nations.

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St. Thomas

Also known as the Twin – Apostle to India

disciple-thomasSt. Thomas was a Galilean by birth and a fisherman by trade. Upon hearing the good tidings of Christ, he left all and followed after Him, becoming one of the twelve apostles.

Claiming he would never believe that the Lord had risen from the dead unless he could actually touch the Lord’s wounds, he later confessed his faith in Him by exclaiming, “My Lord and my God.” In so exclaiming, St. Thomas became the first to confess so explicitly the Lord’s divinity.

According to tradition, the Spirit fell upon him to preach in India. The Syrian Christians of Malabar call themselves “Christians of St. Thomas” and claim to have been evangelized by him. He was martyred pierced with five spears. His tomb was known by St. John Chrysostom to be at Edessa in Syria, to which city his relics may have been translated from India in the 4th century.

St. John Chrysostom remarks of him: “Thomas, being once weaker in faith than the other apostles, toiled through the grace of God more bravely, more zealously and tirelessly than them all, such that he went preaching almost over nearly all the earth, not fearing to announce the Word of God to savage nations.”

An ancient hymn implores: “You were an apostle of Christ and a member of the divine choir of the apostles; for by your unbelief you made known Christ’s resurrection, and by touch you were assured of His holy passion, O all-glorious Thomas; and now pray that we be granted peace and great mercy.”

The icon shows him carrying a scroll representing his preaching the Good News unto many nations.

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St. Simon

Also known as the Canaanite

disciple-simonSt. Simon was known as “the Zealot” (Lk. 6:15) first because of his party affiliation with the anti-Roman Jewish zealots he was first associated with and because he was later enflamed with such a great zeal that he forsook his own bride for the love of Christ.

According to St. Ephrem the Syrian, the bridegroom at the marriage in Cana of Galilee was the future disciple and apostle of Christ, Simon the Zealot.

After his conversion, he was zealous for the honor of his Master and was exact in all the duties of the Christian religion. He preached in Egypt and underwent martyrdom with Jude, the Apostle, at Edessa in Persia. According to St. Dorotheus of Gaza, St. Simon was crucified by idolators.

A hymn dedicated on his behalf by St. Ephrem the Syrian states: “Let Cana thank Thee for bringing joy to her wedding feast. The bridegroom’s crown honors Thee, since Thou hast honored him.” (Hymns on Virginity from the Harp of the Spirit).

An ancient hymn in the voice of Christ declares: “At the wedding in Cana, I made water into wine at the behest of mine all-pure mother. There also, O Simon, I made your heart zealous to follow me in faith; I Who alone know the heart.”

The icon shows him carrying a cross representing his suffering for the sake of the Gospel of Christ.

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