Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist (first century)

Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist (first century)

Patron saint of authors, theologians, and friendships, and against burns and poisoning

Feast day: December 27

Saint John, a fisherman, was one of the first Apostles. Jesus chose him and his brother, James. Jesus “saw two other brothers  .  .  .  .   in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him” (Matthew 4:21–22).

John witnessed and participated in Jesus’ ministry. He may also have been the “beloved disciple” mentioned in Saint John’s Gospel, but this is unclear. If so, he was also at the foot of the cross with Mary when Jesus told his mother that John would take care of her from then on. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son’” (John 19:26).

Tradition tells us that John’s teachings about the Good News to the early Church are the source of the Gospel of John. John is called the Evangelist because to evangelize means to “spread the Good News.” An important part of John’s message is Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit. John calls the Spirit an “Advocate,” a helper and supporter who “will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you” (John 14:26).

You will notice that John’s Gospel spends more time reflecting on the meaning of Jesus’ words and actions rather than describing them. You may recognize the following Scripture passage: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).

John the Evangelist’s message is that we love God and love one another. For this reason, the Apostle John is often called "the Apostle of Love."  (From The Catholic Connections Handbook for Middle Schoolers [Saint Mary’s Press]) Scripture quotations are from the New American Bible Revised Edition.

(Image © Vicki Shuck/Saint Mary's Press)