Below is a picture and description of each Apostle’s shield that is integrated into the Apostle’s Shield Carpet under the Altar at Good Shepherd.
| Matthew (Levi)
||This disciple was originally a tax-collector (a publican) for the Roman government, regarded by his own people as a traitor. Yet Jesus accepted him as a disciple. Matthew is supposed to have written the “Gospel of Matthew” in Judea, and afterwards to have gone to preach in Ethiopia, where he was beheaded. His symbol is three purses, referring to his job as a tax-collector.
||The brother of Jesus and James, Thaddaeus later travelled with Simon on missionary journeys as far as Iran. He died at the point of a spear. His symbol, a ship, tells of his travels for the Gospel.
| John The Beloved Disciple
||John was another disciple who was a close friend of Jesus. He was present at the crucifixion, and Jesus entrusted his mother, Mary, to John’s care. After Mary’s death, John travelled with Peter in Turkey, where he is supposed to have founded seven churches. His home was Ephesus, where he was a famous preacher. The “Gospel of John” is a collection of his preaching. He lived to be very old, and was the only one of the twelve to die a natural death. His symbol is the cup of evil, which Jesus promised him he would share (see Matt. 20:20-23).
| Judas Iscariot
||Judas Iscariot, the disciple of Jesus who betrayed him to the Jewish authorities came from ‘Kerioth’ or ‘Iscarioth’ near the town of Hebron in Judah. He looked after the money for the disciples. He betrayed Jesus with a “kiss” for “thirty pieces of silver”. He was very sorry afterwards for what he did and killed himself. His symbol is an empty shield.
||The brother and fellow-fisherman with Peter, Andrew was one of Jesus’ first disciples. His missionary travels took him around the Black Sea to Russia, where he founded Christianity. He then went to Greece, where he was arrested and tortured, finally to be crucified on an “X”-shaped cross. His symbol is the “X”-shaped cross.
||After Pentecost, Philip travelled to Scythia (in Siberia), so the story is told, and in its chief city of Hicrapolis he killed the snake-god that was being worshipped. Many people became Christians, but the angry priests of the snake-god killed Philip in a rage. His symbol recalls his remark at the feeding of the 5000 (John 6:7).
| James The Greater
||A fisherman and the brother of John, James was another disciple who was particularly close to Jesus. After Pentecost, tradition says he went to Spain as a missionary. He later returned to Judea and was beheaded by Herod in the first persecution. The “Book of James” is ascribed to him. Years after his death, his bones were moved back to Compostella, Spain, where he is now buried. His symbol is the shell, which stands for his pilgrimages or travel.
||The “doubting” apostle, Thomas later became a strong, convincing preacher. He went to India and established churches there that still remember their founder. He died at the spear point of a pagan priest. His symbol is the builder’s square, symbolizing building the church.
||The fisherman Simon Peter was the leader of the twelve. A close friend of Jesus, he was with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and at other “special” times. Following Pentecost, Peter continued to be a leader. His preaching ministry carried him to Antioch and through Turkey, and from there he went to Rome, where tradition says that he founded Christianity in the world’s most important city and served as pastor of the church there for 25 years. He was crucified on an upside-down cross because he did not feel worthy to die in the same way that Christ had. His symbol is two crossed keys (see Matt. 16:18-19).
| James The Less
||James is “the less” because the Bible says less about him, not because he was less important. He was the brother of Jesus and Jude. After Pentecost he became the first pastor of the church at Jersualem. Tradition says that he was beaten to death with a club, and then his body was sawed in two. His symbol is the saw.
| Simon The Zealot
||The missionary partner of Jude after Pentecost, Simon is supposed to have been one of the young shepherds at Bethlehem to whom the angels sang on the first Christmas, according to an old story. He was a Zealot, or rebel against rome…the sworn enemy of publicans, like Matthew, before he met Jesus. And yet, both of them worked together for the Gospel. He traveled through Syria and Iraq, and died in Iran. His symbol is the fish. He bacame a “fisher of men” (Mark 1:17).
| Bartholomew (Nathaniel)
||The first of the disciples to recognize Jesus as the Son of God (see John 1:49). His ministry after Pentecost took him as far as India. While on his return trip, he was captured by pagan soldiers in Armenia, and flayed alive. Then they crucified him. His symbol is the flay knife.