Friday, December 28, 2012

Saint John the Evangelist

Today December 27th is celebrated as St. John the Evangelist day.
So I thought I'd share some
 legendary information about St. John the Evangelist.
Saint John and the Poisoned Cup
by Alonzo Cano
Spain (1635-1637)

I saw this photograph and wondered what the serpent in the cup meant.

I did a little searching around and it threw up a lot of interesting bits of information about him.

  • The meaning of the name 'John' is "Yahweh is gracious" (Tiberian Hebrew Yôḥānān)
  • All the disciples of Christ were killed for their faith except John the Evangelist who died of old age.
  • The apostle John was considered one of the 'pillars' of the Jerusalem church.
  • Christian art usually represents St. John along with an eagle, symbolizing the heights to which he rises in the first chapter of his Gospel.
  • In some pictures of him he is depicted as a young man which leads to the confusion of him as a woman, while in others he is painted as an old man with a long beard. This is because he lived a long and eventful life and died of old age.
  • The artists for some reason kept painting the Virgin Mary is almost always in a blue robe. Similarly inspite of the fact that in some pictures he was confused as a woman they kept painting John almost always in a pink robe! Which did nothing to add to the lack of 'masculinity' of the young 'beloved' disciple.
  • He is considered as one of the patron saints of Freemasonry. But he is also associated as the patron saint of Friendship, the book industry, protection from poison, and many places including Cleveland!

Getting back to my original question of the snake in the picture...
According to legend, when St. John was in Ephesus, he was asked to drink from a chalice of poisoned wine as a test of the strength of his faith (two men had already done so and died). When St. John blessed the cup,
the poison rose in the shape of a serpent. Another explanation is that this incident is tied to the words of Christ to John and James "My chalice indeed you shall drink" (Matthew 20:23)