And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.
- The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
When we think of The Last Supper we often think of Leonardo da Vinci's 15th Century Renaissance painting that adorns the former refectory of the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. For many, it is this most famous rendering of that emotive scene which springs instantly to mind when we utter the words, Last Supper. Unless, of course, you're about to start a diet. In which case you'll probably find it hard to think of anything else other than food. However, if we can draw your attention back to Jesus's table for a moment, have you ever wondered what happened to everyone who attended that supper, long after the wine was drunk and the bread broken? By no means at all comprehensive, this entry aims to shed a tiny bit of light on the fate of the Last Supper Thirteen.
What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?
Judas. It's not exactly the sort of name you give your kids, is it? Come to think of it, apart from Herod (and possibly Adolf), Judas is about the worst name you could give your child. Why? Because he was the baddie - the 'betraying disciple' - and forever condemned as such.
Judas was reputedly an avaricious man right from the start1, thinking that Jesus's empire building was the type which would provide him a fast track to riches and high office. But the kingdom which Jesus was building was a spiritual one, not material, and so our reputedly money-grabbing Judas became frustrated. So, for a fee of 30 pieces of silver, Judas agreed to betray the kindly Jesus to the established Jewish Church (who wanted Jesus away because he was on to their corruption) and to the Roman authorities (who increasingly saw Jesus and his 12 disciples as a major threat to civic order).
Shortly after the Last Supper - 'One of you shall betray me' - Judas led a bunch of soldiers to the Garden of Gethsemane and, by kissing Jesus on the cheek, indicated to the soldiers that they'd found their man.
Riddled with guilt, and repentant of his crime, Judas relinquished his blood money, throwing it back to the priests who had originally bribed him. Shortly after, unable to live with what he had done, Judas Iscariot hanged himself.
Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Peter, the brother of Andrew, was a steadfast fisherman and to whom Jesus looked to be the 'rock' upon which his church would be built. He was, however, the same chap that shiftily denied the existence of Jesus three times when asked, shortly after the Supper, whether or not he knew of his master (fulfilling Jesus's own prophecy at the feast of the Last Supper). 'Er... no. Jesus, you say? Erm... that fella with the beard, long hair and twinkly eyes - looks a bit like Robert Powell - no, never heard of him.' Jesus couldn't half pick 'em.
Anyway, riddled with guilt, Peter went off into hiding after Jesus was crucified, but was later tempted back to the life of men again by his chastening Apostles and henceforth devoted the rest of his days to founding the church of Christianity, becoming its first ever pope.
His life ended when he was crucified upside down. He claimed that he was unworthy to die in the same manner as his master.
Andrew (brother of Peter and first Apostle) was also a fisherman, and was most adept at converting people to follow the teachings of Jesus, not only while Jesus was still alive, but also after his death as well. He was arguably one of the first Christian missionaries preaching Christianity in Asia Minor and in Greece, as well as possibly in other nations further afield. Unfortunately, like so many of the Apostles, he spent his final hours nailed to a piece of wood. Martyred on an x-shaped cross (the saltire) he apparently lasted for two days before finally succumbing to death, during which time he reputedly continued to preach the word of God to passers-by. He is the patron saint of Scotland and the saltire is the nation's national flag (a white x-shaped cross on a dark blue background).
John, yet another fisherman, was originally a disciple of Saint John the Baptist. He was also particularly close to Jesus and was known as the 'beloved disciple'. He stood at the foot of Jesus's crucifixion cross being the only Apostle not to forsake him and therefore ensuring his image as the symbol of loyalty (especially so when compared to the all-too-human traits of many of his wavering Apostle colleagues).
Perhaps this loyalty was rewarded, for although the exact nature of his death remains unknown, he managed to out-live the rest of the Apostles and was buried on a site upon which a church was later built, in Ephesus in modern-day Turkey (interestingly enough, the church later became a mosque). After Jesus's death he continued to preach Christianity and he wrote the fourth Gospel and possibly the book of Revelations. One of the stories surrounding John was that after his death, once a year his grave would give off a fragrant dust that cured the sick.
Also known by the name Nathanial bar Tolomai, Bartholemew is reputed to have written a gospel after Jesus's death and resurrection, but this Gospel unfortunately has been lost to antiquity. Like the other Apostles he travelled far and wide preaching the word of God, and yet sadly for him, he also met a very sticky end, being 'flayed alive and beheaded' under the instruction of King Astyages of Babylon either in Albanopolis, Armenia, or possibly in Derbend on the Caspian Sea.
Faith is in the guarantee of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.
- Paul the Apostle
Thomas is one of the more 'famous' Apostles, often better-known by his moniker 'Doubting Thomas'. When Jesus died and then became Resurrected, Thomas was having none of it. He simply didn't believe it. It wasn't until he came face-to-face with his master, now risen from the dead, and had stuck two fingers into Christ's wounds, did he finally believe in Christ's Resurrection.
He was to continue to preach the teachings of Christ, travelling as far as India, building churches along the way. And in keeping with the now almost de rigueur grisly ending that befits an Apostle, he died after being stabbed with a spear.
A nephew of Mary and Joseph and therefore a blood relative of Jesus Christ, Jude allegedly looked a lot like his master. Thankfully, there are no reports suggesting that he sought to cash in on this likeness by later impersonating Jesus and by opening shopping centres, doing the old cabaret circuit, and generally being a sort of Palestinian Stars in Their Eyes2 figure. Instead, he was a devout, sweet and gentle man who long after his death (and we'll get to that in a minute) seemed to suffer a case of mixed identity as early Christians refused to pray for him confusing his name with that of everyone's favourite arch-baddie, Judas. One can imagine a perplexed Jude pacing up and down an immaculate marbled white room in heaven wondering, 'Why the hell doesn't the phone ring?'.
Anyway, apparently he was 'battered to death with a club' and then beheaded, somewhere in Persia.
Information on Philip is scant. Possibly a 'naïve, shy, sober-minded man' he is also depicted as an elderly, bearded man holding a basket of loaves and a T-shaped cross and so we might well assume that he managed to live for quite a long time. However, when his time finally came, he was also martyred, but the exact details of his demise are not to be found, save that he might well have been buried in Hieropolis, his remains later travelling to Constantinople.
Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me.
- Saint Bede the Venerable
Matthew is a well-known Apostle in that his Gospel seems so prominent in our imagination whenever we think of any contemporary written testament to the life of Christ. Initially viewed with great suspicion by other Apostles - Matthew was a tax collector for the Romans, a job viewed with almost as much derision as that of a traffic warden today - but later came good and spent many years preaching to Jews that their Messiah had come to save them in the form of his master, Jesus Christ. After preaching in Judea he carried the Gospel to Ethiopia where he was subsequently murdered.
Sometimes called James the Greater to distinguish him from James the Lesser (the 'lesser' or 'greater' only refers to the order in which they became Apostles) James was possibly the cousin of Jesus. He preached all over but ended up in Spain, and Spain then took him to their hearts as one of their own (Santiago which means 'Saint James'.). He was martyred in Jerusalem, stabbed with a sword by King Herod Agrippa .
James the Lesser
James the lesser has one of the loveliest myths/stories surrounding any of the Apostles. Apparently, such was his devotion to Christ during Christ's life and after, and such was his commitment to prayer and worship, that his knees grew thick 'like a camel' due to the fact of him praying so much on his knees! However, his end was typically martyr-like as he was reputedly 'thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple, then stoned and beaten with clubs, including fuller's mallets, while praying for his attackers in Jerusalem'. Gosh.
Simon, or Simon the Zealot as he was known, has several claims made on the behalf of his death. And sure enough it was a martyr's death. But according to The Catholic Forum (a very good website indeed which has been invaluable for the research done on this entry) Simon was crucified in Samaria (according to the Abyssinians); sawn in half at Suanir, Persia; or martyred at Weriosphora in Iberia. Whatever way you look at it, it wasn't pleasant.
In the words of a recent popular song, 'Jesus was way cool'. Indeed, so much has been written, speculated debated and argued about this mesmeric founder of the Christian religion that to pen a little bitty footnote here on his life after the Last Supper would seem a bit trite. Most of us know the accepted story of his last days - the betrayal by Judas, the Crucifixion and the subsequent Resurrection - but to find out more (and in more detail), it is suggested you look at the very well-researched Early Gospels site.