John the beloved, also known as “John the Evangelist,” was the son of Zebedee and Mary Salomé and lived near Bethsaida. John’s older brother, James the greater, was also a disciple of Jesus. Zebedee and his sons were fishermen.
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. Mark 1:19-20
Although John was the youngest of all the close disciples of Jesus he was the most beloved by Jesus above all others for his purity and innocence.
About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen. Luke 9:28-36
Transfiguration of Christ by Pietro Perugino, c. 1497, Collegio del Cambio, Perugia, Italy
John the beloved disciple at the Last Supper, by Domenico Ghirlandaio, c. 1486, a portion of the Last Supper fresco with John the beloved disciple, Museo Nazionale di San Marco, Florence, Italy
John was the only Apostle who remained at the foot of the Cross with the Blessed Mother and Mary Magdalene. Church tradition holds that John is the author of the Gospel of John and four other books of the New Testament – the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation.
Crucifixion by Michelangelo Buonarroti, c. 1540
John lived more than half a century after the martyrdom of his brother James (44 AD). John traveled to Ephesus (Asia) with the Blessed Mother, whom Jesus had turned over in his charge, and outlived the remaining apostles, being the only one not to die a martyr’s death. John died in Ephesus at the age of 94. A church was erected over his tomb. It was afterwards converted into a Mohammedan mosque.
Saint John is called the “Apostle of Charity,” a virtue he learned from his Divine Master. His feast day is December 27.