Tag Archives: St John the Evangelist

Saint John the Evangelist

the Evangelist JohnThe Beloved Disciple and Evangelist, Saint John, is honored by the Church in her Liturgy today. He’s known as “the Divine” and historically known as one of the sons of Zebedee, and his mother’s name was Salome [Matthew 4:21, 27:56; Mark 15:40, 16:1]. John’s date of death cannot be fixed with any precision, but we know he lived to an advanced age and he’s known not to have been martyred as the other Apostles were. Some have claimed he made his residence in Ephesus in 97.

Saint John is represented holding a chalice from which a dragon comes out,  as he is supposed to have been given poison, which was, however, neutralized. Today is a day on which we typically bless wine. The eagle also represents John and his gospel (look closely to the image here).

Who is the Beloved Disciple, John the Divine?

From biblical study we know that John and family lived on the shores of Galilee. The brother of Saint John, considerably older, was Saint James. The mention of the “hired men” [Mark 1:20], and of Saint John’s “home” [John 19:27], implies that Salome and her children were not impoverished

Saints John and James followed the Baptist when he preached repentance in the wilderness of Jordan. There can be little doubt that the two disciples, whom Gospel does not name (John 1:35), who followed when the Baptist exclaimed with prophetic utterance, “Behold the Lamb of God!” were Andrew and John. They followed and asked the Lord where he abided. “Come and see” is the famous line. From here they entered into a profound friendship with the Eternal Word of God.

When Jesus appeared on the shore early in the morning, John was the first to recognize him. The last words of the Gospel reveal the attachment which existed between the two apostles. Peter came to know his destiny and that of his friend –the Acts of the Apostles gives evidence that they are still connected as entered together as worshippers into the Temple [Acts 3:1], and later protesting the threats of the Sanhedrin [Acts 4:13].

It’s very likely that Saint John remained at Jerusalem until the death of Mary, though tradition of no great antiquity or weight asserts that he took her to Ephesus. The exact date when he went to Ephesus is uncertain; we know that he was at Jerusalem fifteen years after Saint Paul’s first visit there [Acts 15:6]. There is no trace of his presence there when Saint Paul was at Jerusalem for the last time.

Early Christian writers such as Saint Irenaeus write that Saint John did not settle at Ephesus until after the death the Apostles Peter and Paul. He certainly was not there when Timothy was appointed bishop of that place. Moreover, Jerome thinks he governed all the Churches of Asia.. During the persecution of Domitian John was taken to Rome, and was placed in a cauldron of boiling oil, outside the Latin gate, without the boiling fluid doing him any injury. [Eusebius makes no mention of this. The legend of the boiling oil occurs in Tertullian and in Jerome]. There are some biblical experts who say that John was sent to labor at the mines in Patmos. When Nerva became the political leader John  was set free, returned to Ephesus, and there it is thought that he wrote his gospel and had a hand in the composition of other letters. Of his zeal and love combined we have examples in Eusebius, based on the authority of Irenaeus, that  John once fled out of a bath on hearing that Cerinthus was in it, lest, as he asserted, the roof should fall in, ending his reign.

Saint John the Evangelist

St John the Apostle

Come, let us worship the Lord, the King of apostles.

On the 3rd Day of Christmas we are given the liturgical memorial of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist.

“[W]hat we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1Jn 1:3).

From what is revealed in sacred Scripture we know that John is present to the central events of Jesus’ life, the many miracles, including the Transfiguration, the institution of the Eucharist, the Lord’s Crucifixion, and the discovery of the Resurrection.

John is “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and the one to whom Jesus confided the care of his mother and the Church. He is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles; later he was exiled to the island of Patmos. He wrote a Gospel, three Epistles, and the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse). Saint John is said to have died at Ephesus (in current day Turkey). On this day the Church blesses wine.

Saint John the Evangelist

St John on a 12th c MS.jpgToday we honor the Apostle who likely knew the Lord’s
mind and heart the best. Typically, Holy Church uses Scripture to bring us into
the sacred Liturgy but today the entrance antiphon is taken from the other leg
of the Magisterium, that of tradition to orient our prayer and belief. We are

This is John, who reclined on the Lord’s breast at supper, the blessed
Apostle, to whom celestial secrets were revealed and who spread  the words of life through all the

With the Church we pray,

O God, who through the blessed Apostle John
have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word, grant, we pray, that we may
grasp with proper understanding what he has so marvelously brought to our

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Saint John the Evangelist

St John on Pathmos ACano.jpgToday, the Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of the Beloved disciple, Saint John the Evangelist. As you know, John is the great theologian, perhaps you might say after Saint Paul, of Jesus. His Gospel is a superb love story.

At dinner tonight Abbot Caedmon of Portsmouth Abbey blessed wine. It was a wonderful experience to hear the prayers used and a churchman pointing to a significant Catholic sacramentality that’s not often seen today.

Basilica made in Stamford, Connecticut by Pope Benedict

St John the Evangelist Bas.jpgThe Catholic faithful with their bishop, the Most Reverend William E. Lori, their pastor, Msgr. Stephen M. DiGiovanni and parochial vicars, gathered at the newly established Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist (Stamford, CT) tonight for Solemn Vespers and Benediction on the occasion of the Church receiving the dignity of a minor basilica by the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Benedict, XVI. It is one of 66 basilicas in the United States at this time. Also in attendance were Bishop Paul, Eparch of the Ukrainian Eparchy of Stamford and Bishop Basil the eparch emeritus with about 40 priests and seminarians.

Providing an honor guard were the Knights of Columbus, the Order of Malta and the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
Tonight’s ceremonies commemorated the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. In the Diocese of Bridgeport the only church which ranks higher than Saint John’s is the Cathedral of Saint Augustine, the seat of the bishop, which holds first place and the greatest dignity. The Basilica enjoys a special relationship with the Pope because it becomes his church, especially should he visit the diocese.
The designation was made last fall and noted here.

altar st John.jpg

In order for Saint John’s to have been recognized as a minor basilica by the Holy Father, upon recommendation by those concerned with such work, certain criteria had to be followed as outlined by the 1989 document, Domus Ecclesiae (the House of God). Namely, that the church be exemplarly noted for her praying the Liturgy, the sacred music performed for prayer, the teaching of the faith, a place of beauty, enjoy a good reputation in the diocese and a place of pilgrimage for the faithful.

Basilica of St John the Evangelist Stamford.jpg

There are three ecclesiastical symbols (“decoration”) for the new basilica to display, two originated for papal processions: 1) the liturgical umbrella, also called the papal pavilion (umbraculum) used to shield the pope from harsh weather and to signal the pope’s movement through the streets; the pavilion is constructed in the yellow and white papal colors used since the 9th century which originally were the colors of the Roman Senate; 2) the papal bell (tintinabulum) which announces a pope’s arrival; and 3) the basilica is privileged to use of the papal symbols of the tiara with crossed keys in a design of a coat of arms (seen to the right),

arms inter.jpg

The coat of arms was designed by heraldic artist, the Very Reverend Canon Matthew R. Mauriello, pastor of Saint Roch’s Church, Greenwich, CT. The motto, “Behold your Mother” (John 19:27) was spoken to Saint John by Our Lord entrusting His mother to Saint John’s care. The motto also recalls the traditional title of Saint John’s Parish as the Mother Church of Stamford.
Father Matthew’s design evokes redemption by Christ with the use of the gold cross. With other symbols, connections are made with Benedict XVI, Blessed Pope Pius IX, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Diocese of Bridgeport and the symbol of Saint John the Evangelist.
The sacred music for the Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was beautifully done by the Basilica schola under the direction of Scott Turkington, who after 11 years, is taking a job as the director of music at the Charleston, SC cathedral. The psalmody was executed well so that all knew their respective parts. The schola sang Palestrina’s Tu es Petrus, Victoria’s Magnificat and Tantum Ergo along with the Vesperal psalmody.
In his homily the bishop made the connection with the Blessed Mother and Saint John the Beloved Disciple and the paradigm the are for the Church and thus for us today. Bishop Lori reminded us of the feast of the Chair of Peter we celebrate today and the closeness we have with the Pope especially now with the basilica dignity. As the Lord entrusted to the Apostles the proclamation of the Gospel and administration of the sacraments, so the Church today is charged with the same work to spread the message of salvation. As the Church’s faith is built on the rock of Saint Peter, the prince of the Apostles, 1st among equals, and the embodiment of the Church office, especially the papacy, our faith is made firm, we are given freedom to profess Christ and to remain vigilant until the Second Coming of the Savior.
We were happy to receive a resolution from Her Excellency, M. Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut read by her assistant governor and messages from Stamford’s Board of Alderman and the Mayor.
The Stamford Advocate ran an online slideshow presentation on February 23.

Lori bless umbrella & bell.jpg

papal pavilion.jpg

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms



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