instrideonline.com Last Supper recreation

The Twelve Apostles

Jesus of Nazareth preached about God’s love and forgiveness to crowds gathered on the shores of the Sea of Galilee two thousand years ago. As he walked through towns and villages in the modern-day region of northern Israel, he inspired twelve disciples to follow him, to listen to his teachings, and to witness his healing miracles.

As Jesus’ influence grew, Roman authorities became suspicious and eventually considered him a threat to the Roman Empire. His closest followers began to fear for their own safety.

In about the year 33 CE, Jesus and his apostles were celebrating the Passover meal when he told them that he would be leaving them soon and that one of them was about to betray him.

After the Passover meal, now known as the Last Supper, Jesus was walking and praying alone in the Garden of Gethsemane when Judas Iscariot identified him to Roman soldiers. Jesus was arrested and beaten, brought before Pontius Pilate, and condemned to die.

As Jesus was dying a painful death on the cross, he expressed forgiveness for those who had turned against him. His body was placed in a tomb carved into a nearby hillside, with a large stone placed at its entrance. On the third day, Mary Magdalene asked that the stone be removed, and within it she found only the shroud Jesus had been buried in. According to Christian tradition, Jesus himself appeared to the Apostles numerous times after his death. Forty days later his soul ascended to heaven.

In the following years, during a violent era of religious persecution, the twelve Apostles journeyed to other parts of the world, preaching about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection – and then dying torturous deaths for their beliefs …

So who were they?

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In DaVinci’s painting, the guy farthest on the left is Bartholomew. He was from the city of Cana, in Galilee, introduced to Jesus by the Apostle Philip while in Nazareth. When he met Jesus, Bartholomew was skeptical that “anything good could come from Nazareth.” In some interpretations of the New Testament, he’s identified as Nathaniel.

As a minor Apostle, Bartholomew was simply known for being one of the twelve chosen by Jesus to witness his preaching and to be with him at the Last Supper. Historians believe that after Jesus died Bartholomew journeyed to India and then north into modern-day Turkey to preach about Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Those were dangerous times, though, and ten of the twelve Apostles were arrested and suffered torturous deaths. Bartholomew is said to have been either beheaded or skinned alive and crucified.[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal icon_type=”custom” icon_img=”id^11482|url^http://instrideonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/modal-box-site-logo-min.png|caption^null|alt^null|title^modal box site logo-min|description^null” modal_title=”James” btn_size=”block” btn_bg_color=”#f2f2f2″ btn_bg_hover_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”James” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″ modal_border_style=”solid” modal_border_width=”3″ modal_border_color=”#88cc00″ modal_border_radius=”0″ img_size=”80″ btn_txt_color=”#848484″ button_text_font_size=”desktop:18px;” header_font=”font_family:Average Sans|font_call:Average+Sans” header_font_size=”desktop:22px;” css_modal_box=”.vc_custom_1589903574369{margin-right: 100px !important;margin-left: 100px !important;}”]

To the right of Bartholomew is James known as “James the Lesser” or James, son of Alphaeus.

There are at least two other James’ talked about in the New Testament, and historians often disagree about the roles of each of the men. First, James the Greater is the brother of John. Jesus encountered James and John on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and encouraged them to become ‘fishers of men.’ Next, James “brother of Jesus” was also known as James the Just. And third, the Apostle James the Lesser or “son of Alphaeus” who was the brother of the Apostle Jude Thaddeus (Whether James the Lesser was one of the minor Apostles or if he was the same man as James the Just is unknown).

Most sources agree that in the years following the death of Jesus, one of these men was well respected in the Christian community of Jerusalem and was elected to be the first Bishop. He was a dominant figure at the Council of Jerusalem in 50 CE and is credited with writing a book later included the New Testament. The Book of James is a letter to Jewish believers living in Palestine, written in about 45 CE. James encourages Christians to live their lives close to God, and he reminds them about the power of prayer to create peace and joy in their lives.

In the year 62 CE, James’ political enemies stoned him to death for his religious beliefs.

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Next to James is Andrew, the younger brother of Simon Peter. The brothers lived in Bethsaida along with John and James, also brothers, and the men made their living fishing the waters of the Sea of Galilee.

According to the New Testament, Andrew learned about Jesus from John the Baptist and introduced him to Simon, James, and John. Jesus persuaded the men to leave their gear and join him as missionaries, preaching and performing healing miracles in settlements around Jerusalem and Nazareth in modern-day Israel.

After the death of Jesus, Andrew journeyed through Greece and Turkey, north along the Black Sea, and up into Ukraine and into modern-day Russia before being put to death, tied to an ‘x’ shaped cross.

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Judas Iscariot was the Apostle who betrayed Jesus. In DaVinci’s painting, he’s the dark-haired figure holding a small purse in his right fist. Judas is remembered for being paid thirty pieces of silver for the “kiss of betrayal” that identified Jesus to the Roman soldiers leading to his arrest.

While gathering at the last supper, Jesus had predicted that the Apostle who would betray him was the one he would hand a piece of bread to. In Da Vinci’s painting, Jesus is reaching toward a piece of bread with his right hand while Judas’ hand is outstretched.

After Jesus’ arrest, there are differing accounts about Judas’ fate. The book of Matthew explains that Judas returned the money and then hanged himself out of shame. Other accounts claim that he used the money to purchase land and then fell to the ground, bleeding to death.

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Behind Judas is Simon, the older brother of Andrew. The men lived in Galilee and made their living as fishermen before they met Jesus. 

Simon was known for being temperamental and disloyal, yet Jesus said he was the “rock” that the church would be built upon. One account in the New Testament explains that when Jesus asked the men who they believed him to be, was he just a man living God’s word or was he the Son of God? Simon answered that Jesus was the “the living Son of God,” and Jesus named him Petra, or Peter, the Greek word for rock.

Why is he grasping a knife? In the controversy surrounding Jesus, Simon Peter feared for his own life. He denied knowing Jesus three times “before the rooster crowed,” just as Jesus predicted he would. Later that evening, though, after Judas identified Jesus and he was being arrested, Simon Peter tried to help Jesus by cutting off the ear of one of the Roman soldiers. It was an incident that clearly shows the conflicted nature of Simon Peter’s character.

Despite this mix of deception and loyalty, he is remembered as one of the first disciples to follow Jesus, witness his death and resurrection, and then dedicate his life to establishing the early Christian church.

[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal icon_type=”custom” icon_img=”id^11482|url^http://instrideonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/modal-box-site-logo-min.png|caption^null|alt^null|title^modal box site logo-min|description^null” modal_title=”John” btn_size=”block” btn_bg_color=”#f2f2f2″ btn_bg_hover_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”John” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″ modal_border_style=”solid” modal_border_width=”3″ modal_border_color=”#88cc00″ modal_border_radius=”0″ img_size=”80″ content_text_color=”#0a0a0a” btn_txt_color=”#848484″ button_text_font_size=”desktop:18px;” header_font=”font_family:Average Sans|font_call:Average+Sans” header_font_size=”desktop:22px;” css_modal_box=”.vc_custom_1589903628579{margin-right: 100px !important;margin-left: 100px !important;}” button_text_font=”font_family:Average Sans|font_call:Average+Sans”]The figure leaning away from Jesus is said to be John. The Apostle John is the younger brother of James (James the Greater, son of Zebedee), and the men were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, along with Simon Peter and Andrew. The mother of James and John was Mary’s sister, making them cousins of Jesus. 

They were acquaintances of John the Baptist who, before he was beheaded by King Herod, preached that there was a prophet of God among them greater than himself. James, John, and the others believed that man to be Jesus and became his disciples.

John was the only Apostle to have died of natural causes, surviving into his mid-90’s. John not only outlived the other apostles, he outlived his brother James who was the first among them to be martyred.

Five books in the New Testament are attributed to the Apostle John.[/ultimate_modal]

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The apostle Thomas is seen pointing upward with an inquiring expression. DaVinci might have painted him this way as an indication of his later role as the infamous “doubting Thomas” who didn’t believe Jesus was alive after being crucified.

Like most of the other Apostles, Thomas was from Galilee. After the death of Jesus, he traveled through China and India converting believers to Christianity by preaching about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

There are differing reports about the Apostle’s death, but one account is that Thomas was a missionary in India when he was ordered to be imprisoned, tortured, and then stabbed to death. His body was laid to rest in Chennai, India, and although his relics were transported to other locations through the centuries, the National Shrine of St. Thomas was built on the site of his burial.

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In DaVinci’s painting, James is seated next to Jesus gesturing with outstretched arms and an expression of surprise or disbelief. James “the greater” was John’s older brother and the two worked with their father as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. The men were well known to Jesus, being cousins, and earned the nickname “sons of thunder” for their boisterous personalities and harsh tempers.

In the years after Jesus’ death, the Apostle James traveled as a missionary, introducing Christianity to the people of Spain. He was put to death in Jerusalem, ordered by King Herod to be decapitated with a sword. Biblical scholars believe that James was the first Apostle to be martyred since his death is the only one mentioned in the New Testament.

His remains were placed in Santiago de Compostela, a cathedral in north-western Spain visited by thousands of Christian believers every year.

[/ultimate_modal][ultimate_modal icon_type=”custom” icon_img=”id^11482|url^http://instrideonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/modal-box-site-logo-min.png|caption^null|alt^null|title^modal box site logo-min|description^null” modal_title=”Philip” btn_size=”block” btn_bg_color=”#f2f2f2″ btn_bg_hover_color=”#ffffff” btn_text=”Philip” modal_size=”medium” modal_style=”overlay-fade” overlay_bg_opacity=”80″ modal_border_style=”solid” modal_border_width=”3″ modal_border_color=”#88cc00″ modal_border_radius=”0″ img_size=”80″ content_text_color=”#0a0a0a” btn_txt_color=”#848484″ button_text_font_size=”desktop:18px;” header_font=”font_family:Average Sans|font_call:Average+Sans” header_font_size=”desktop:22px;” button_text_font=”font_family:Average Sans|font_call:Average+Sans” css_modal_box=”.vc_custom_1589903445233{margin-right: 100px !important;margin-left: 100px !important;}”]Each of the four gospels relates that when John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus withdrew to mourn and pray. He was followed by a crowd of people as he was rowing out onto the Sea of Galilee. Jesus spent the day preaching to them and healing the sick.

As it became late afternoon, the Apostles asked Jesus if he should stop for the day so the crowd could disperse. Jesus replied by asking Philip if he thought it possible for the crowd to be fed with just a few small loaves and fishes. Philip replied that he didn’t believe it was possible, but Jesus blessed the food and divided it to feed the crowd.

After Jesus died, the Apostle Philip journeyed to Greece and then Turkey. Rumors were he was either beheaded or crucified in 80 CE.

In 2011, an archaeological dig in Hierapolis, Turkey unearthed the Tomb of Saint Philip, though his remains are said to rest in the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Rome.

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Third from the left is Matthew. He was from Capernaum and worked as a tax collector in Galilee when Jesus invited him to leave his profession and join him and the other Apostles.

Jesus healed the sick and recruited his followers from fishermen and tax collectors, men considered commoners at that time. One evening, Jesus was having dinner in Matthew’s home when he was asked, why did he spend his time with outcasts? He replied, “I did not come to lead the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Matthew wrote a Gospel in the New Testament in about 60 or 65 CE. Being a tax collector, he was probably one of the more educated of the Apostles, and scholars believe he would have written the pages in Hebrew or Aramaic.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are the synoptic gospels, as they recount many of the same events, whereas the book of John includes events and conversations unique to that gospel. (Mark and Luke weren’t among the twelve Apostles. Mark was a close friend of Simon Peter. Luke, who also authored Acts of the Apostles, was a physician known for his compassionate care of the bodily and spiritual needs of the poor).

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Jude Thaddeus was a farmer from Galilee, the brother of James the Less and possibly the half-brother of Jesus. He is only mentioned in the New Testament among the list of the men present at the Pentecost, the symbolic beginning of the Apostles missionary travels.

The Apostle Jude preached in Israel, Syria, and Turkey. He is often pictured carrying an image of Jesus, and is known as the patron saint of “lost causes.”

Around 65-70 CE, the Apostle Jude wrote an epistle that is included in the New Testament as the Book of Jude. He was warning believers that there were those among them who were misinterpreting the death and resurrection of Jesus to mean that they could do whatever they wanted because they’d be forgiven. The Apostle reminds the Christians to live by the teachings of Jesus and to strengthen their Christian communities.

Jude Thaddeus was killed shortly after writing the letter. Most sources say he was traveling with Simon the Zealot in Syria where the men were captured and beaten to death. His remains are in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

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And last, Simon the Zealot, the apostle Matthew and Jude Thaddeus seem to be arguing with.

Sources disagree about why Simon was called “the Zealot” in his brief mention in the New Testament. Was it because he was part of a political group who opposed the Roman Empire’s rule of the Jewish holy land, or was he simply known for his enthusiastic loyalty to Jesus?

He was said to have traveled to Armenia and Persia, modern-day Iran, where he met up with the Apostle Jude Thaddeus. Some rumors relate that Simon was put to death, sawed to pieces, in about 65 CE. Others say that he and Jude Thaddeus were killed together.

The remains of the two men are entombed at St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Roman Catholics celebrate their feast day on October 28.

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DaVinci's Creation

instrideonline.com Twelve Apostles painting

The Last Supper, or the Lord’s Supper, was Jesus’ final meal before his crucifixion. The painting has inspired different perspectives among historians regarding the existence of the Holy Grail; whether the figure to Jesus’ right is a young, effeminate-looking John the Evangelist or is really Jesus’ wife, Mary Magdeline.

Leonardo DaVinci brings this scene from the New Testament vividly to life in The Last SupperThe painting is located in the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent in Milan. Construction of the convent and church began in the 1460’s, lasting about twenty years, and in 1494 the Duke of Milan hired DaVinci to design and paint the mural. The painting has been carefully preserved, along with other 15th century works besides DaVinci’s that survived the destruction of the buildings during WWII.

Preservation and Replications

The mural in the dining hall of the Santa Maria delle Grazie took DaVinci about four years to finish and has weathered destruction as well as restoration attempts in the past 500 years. Because of the type of paint DaVinci used on the dry plaster wall, the surface didn’t set well while he was creating the masterpiece, and within twenty years it began to chip off and fade with much of the subtle shading of the painting being lost. In 1652, construction within the refectory included a doorway to be cut through the deteriorating painting, replacing the area in front of the table with a doorway.

Then, in the fall of 1943, the convent was bombed and the dining hall mostly destroyed. Sandbags and a scaffolding structure protected the painting from the remaining years of WWII, and restoration efforts on the painting began in the 1950’s. From 1978 to 1999 the most extensive efforts to renovate the painting were conducted, closing up the dining hall and creating a climate controlled environment while simultaneously cleaning and studying the mural. Infrared cameras were used to view the paint layers to preserve Da Vinci’s original work and repair other restoration attempts.

Much of the detail which eroded away through the years might actually be preserved in recreations of the piece made by DaVinci’s fifteenth century contemporaries. The most notable of these was Giampietrino, an artist who copied many of DaVinci’s masterpieces. His full-size recreation of The Last Supper is an oil on canvas painting displayed at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

instrideonline.com Santa Maria della Grazie church modern day

Santa Maria della Grazie today

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The church in 1943