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27th December: Saint John the Evangelist

Facts

Feast Day: 27th December

Patron of: Love, Loyalty, Friendships, and Authors

Born: AD 6

Died: AD 100

St John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee and Salome, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. John was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His public ministry. He is considered the same person as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos and the Beloved Disciple. John's older brother was St James the Great, another one of Jesus' Twelve Apostles. Jesus referred to the brothers as "Boanerges," meaning "sons of thunder." John is believed to be the longest living apostle and the only one of the Twelve not to die a martyr's death.

John, along with Peter and James, were the only witnesses of the raising of the daughter of Jairus (see Mark 5:21-43), and the closest witnesses to Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane.

John and Peter were the only two apostles sent by Jesus to make preparations for the final Passover meal, the Last Supper. During the meal, St John sat next to Jesus, laying his head on Jesus’ chest. This indicates that John was probably an early to middle-aged teenager when he walked with Jesus. In Judaism, one is considered a man when he is 13 years old.

John was the only one of the Twelve Apostles who did not forsake the Saviour in the hour of His Passion. He stood faithfully at the cross when the Saviour made him the guardian of His Mother (cf. John 19:26). After the Assumption of Mary, John went to Ephesus, according to Church tradition. He later became banished by the Roman authorities to the Greek Island of Patmos; this is where he allegedly wrote the Book of Revelation. It is said that John was banished in the late 1st century, during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, after being plunged into boiling oil in Rome and suffering no injuries. It is also said that all those who witnessed the miracle in the Colosseum were converted to Christianity. Emperor Domitian is known for his persecution of Christians.

John is known as the author of the Gospel of John and four other books in the New Testament — the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation. The authorship of the Gospel is credited to the "disciple whom Jesus loved," and John 21:24 claims the Gospel of John is based on the "Beloved Disciple's" testimony.

In the Gospel of John, the phrase "the disciple whom Jesus loved," or "the Beloved Disciple" is used five times, but is not used in any other New Testament accounts of Jesus.

St John is called the Apostle of Charity, a virtue he had learned from his Divine Master, and which he constantly inculcated by word and example. The "beloved disciple" died in Ephesus after AD 98, where a stately church was erected over his tomb. It was afterwards converted into a Mohammedan mosque.

St John is the patron saint of love, loyalty, friendships, and authors. He is often depicted in art as the author of the Gospel with an eagle, symbolising "the height he rose to in his gospel." In other icons, he is shown looking up into heaven and dictating his Gospel to his disciple.

The Gospel of St John is considered the loftiest of the four Gospels. It’s deep symbolism is often breathtaking and blatantly points to the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. Protestants and Catholics have often handed out single copies of the Gospel of St John as a form of evangelisation.

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© 2016 by Gibraltar Catholic Youth.