The Torture and Martyrdom of the Apostles

I thought today would be an edifying time to review the fates of Apostles, which at one time, all Christians knew, in these days inexcusably forgotten. I list them here in order tradition assigns:

St James the Greater preached the Gospel in Judaea and Samaria, and also in Spain.  He is the first of the twelve Apostles who suffered Martyrdom, which event occurred when Herod Agrippa entered into the government of Judaea, who, to please the people, beheaded St James at Jerusalem, AD 44.

3 St James the Greater

St James the Greater

St James the Great is usually represented in Ecclesiastical paintings with the staff, scallop shell, and gourd of a pilgrim. The Festival of St James the Great is on the 25th of July.

Saint James the Apostle Italian Print 2009

St James the Greater, as Pilgrim

St Philip preached the Gospel in Upper Asia and that towards the latter part of his life he traveled into Phrygia, where in AD 52, he suffered martyrdom at Hierapolis. He was whipped and scourged and afterwards crucified, being the second of the Apostles who suffered martyrdom. He is represented holding the cross of his crucifixion and trampling the dragon he overcame. This is commemorated on May 1st.

5 St Philip the Dragonslayer

St Philip the Dragonslayer

St Matthew preached the Gospel first in Judaea, and afterwards in Ethiopia and Parthia. He suffered martyrdom at Nadabur in Ethiopia about AD 60 but in what manner is not recorded. The Festival of St Matthew is on the 21st of September.

8 St Matthew the publican

St Matthew the publican

St Matthew is usually represented in Ecclesiastical paintings holding a Purse in allusion to his original vocation of a publican and sometimes also with either a Halberd or Sword, with one of which instruments he is believed to have been martyred.

James the Less, also called James the Just, refusing to deny Christ, was cast down from the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem (the same where the devil stood with Jesus during His temptation), and, surviving the 100 foot fall,  then was stoned, and when that failed to kill him, he was beaten to death with fuller’s rods.  This event took place in AD 62 during the Procuratorship of Albinus. He is depicted in ecclesiastic art holding the fuller’s rod of his martyrdom. This is commemorated on May 1st, sharing the day with St Philip.

9 St James the Lesser, son of Alphaeus

St James the Lesser, son of Alphaeus

St Matthias suffered martyrdom in Galilee. He was seized and carried before Ananias, the high priest, which Ananias had the year before been concerned in the murder of St James the Less. St Matthias was first stoned and finally beheaded, AD 63.  The Festival of St Matthias is on the 24th of February

12 st matthias

St Matthias

He is shown with the beheading ax in hand.

St Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome, AD 68,  during the first general persecution of the Christians by the Emperor Nero. After nine months imprisonment, he was taken out scourged and then crucified. By St Peter’s own desire, he was crucified with his head downwards, considering himself as unworthy to suffer in the same posture in which his Lord had suffered for him. (It is an irony that the reversed cross is regarded by Satanists as a mocking blasphemy and symbol of their rebellion, when it is in truth the cross of St Peter, and so depicted in ecclesiastic art.)  The Festival of St Peter is on the 29th of June.

1 St Peter

St Peter

He is depicted in ecclesiastic art holding the keys to paradise.

St Andrew preached throughout  Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, Epirus, and Achaia, in which latter country, at the city of Patrae, he suffered martyrdom in AD 69. He was seized by the Proconsul Ageas, who condemned him to be scourged by seven lictors, and then crucified. To make his death more lingering and painful, St Andrew was fastened by cords instead of nails to a square cross, which cross being in the shape of the letter X or a cross decussate has since been known by the name of St Andrew’s cross. In this state, he remained two days exhorting and instructing the populace in the faith of Christ. His martyrdom is commemorated on November 30th.


2 St Andrew his brother

St Andrew

Bartholomew preached the Gospel in the Northern Provinces of India and Northern and Western Asia, in Lycaonia and Armenia. He suffered martyrdom in AD 72 at Albanople in the latter country  by being flayed alive and then crucified with his head downwards. For this reason he is often represented in ecclesiastic art with flaying knife in hand, holding his own skin. His feast is August 25th.

6 St Bartholomew

St Bartholomew

St Thomas suffered martyrdom in AD 73 at Melapur in India, from a Prince of that country, by being struck with darts and stones, and finally pierced with a lance. The Festival of St Thomas is on the 21st of December.

7 St Thomas

St Thomas

He is shown in Ecclesiastical paintings holding a lance which was the final instrument of his martyrdom, but, more frequently, with a carpenter’s square in one hand. This is in allusion to an ancient legend of his having engaged to build a palace in the Roman fashion for Gundafur, King of India. The tale goes that the king, returning after an absence of two years, and finding nothing done, was enraged; but the apostle assured him that by using the moneys to tend the poor and convert the gentiles, the palace had indeed been built in heaven, and awaited him.

St Simon the Zealot suffered martyrdom in Persia by being sawn asunder, AD 74, in the same year as St Jude.  The Festival of St Simon is on the 28th of October.

11 St Simon the Cananite

St Simon the Cananite

He is depicted in ecclesiastic art bearing the saw by which he was slowly cut limb from limb.


St Jude preached the Gospel from Judaea to Mesopotamia, and afterwards also in Persia, in which last country he suffered martyrdom by being beaten with a club, and then being hung upon a fruit tree, about AD 74. His feast is on the 28th of October.

6 saint Jude

St Jude

The Golden Legend gives a different account, saying Saints Simon and Jude were slain by pagan magicians enraged over the destruction of their idols. They ran upon the apostles and hewed them to death. Hence, St Jude in ecclesiastic art is depicted with a club, or halberd.

St John was sent to Rome, where he is said to have been cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, from whence, by the interposition of Divine Providence, he miraculously escaped uninjured. He was then banished to the island of Patmos, in the latter part of the reign of the Emperor Domitian, where he remained for some years, preaching the Gospe,l after which he returned to Ephesus in the reign of the Emperor Nerva, and governed that Church until his death (or, as another tradition has it, his bodily assumption). This event took place in the reign of the Emperor Trajan, about AD 101. St John was the only one of the Apostles did not die a martyr’s death, but departed the world when aged above one hundred years.

4 St John of the Apocalypse

St John of the Apocalypse

The Festival of St John the Apostle and Evangelist is on the 27th of December. St John is usually represented in Ecclesiastical paintings with a Cup in one hand, from which a Serpent is seen rising, in allusion to an ancient tradition that he drank venom unharmed.


St John, the Beloved Disciple

It would not be right to end this recitation of horrors without mentioning the wounds of Our Lord, who was tormented with scourge, thorns, beatings, cross, nails, and lance.


The PIETA of Michaelangelo


To turn from eternal things to small concerns, so soon to pass away, I here must pause to remark on the contrast recent news hold up to our eyes.

In order to distract and bewilder the simpletons in our press corps from the devastating testimony of one Mr Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, regarding the ongoing and universal fraud surrounding that signature piece of unconstitutional and irrational legislation, the Democrats yesterday released a slanderous report accusing the United States government of torturing captured terrorists.

For the record, I firmly and unyieldingly adhere with utmost loyalty to the teaching of the one, true, holy, catholic and apostolic Church when it comes to torture. Here is what her catechism teaches:

2297  Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.

298 In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.

So, I am not one of these many frightened and bloodthirsty newly-converted ex-liberals who holds that torture is morally permissible in certain farfetched make-believe scenarios involving abductees smothering in coffins or ticking time bombs. I reject all such argument absolutely, without even dignifying such devilry with the courtesy of a hearing.

Nor am I a libertarian of the purist (if not paranoid) school that holds to the argument that permitting the state to use cruel interrogation tactics in time of war against combatants not in uniform attacking random civilian targets is the same, or is likely to lead to, their use by police against our own children. Or, rather, to be precise, I hold that danger is less than the danger that springs from a dithering and halfhearted prosecution of the current war, or halfheartedness in gathering useful intelligence.

My fellow Republicans who say, “Waterboarding is not torture, and, anyway, we should torture the terrorists because the ends justify the means” — I am sad to report that they are running, eyes closed and fingers in ears, straight toward the open mouth of hell.

Right underneath the big sign on the dark gates that says ‘Abandon ye all Hope who enter here’ is a smaller brass plaque reading ‘Those who say The Ends Justify the Means — press bell and enter. Your place is prepared for you.’  I pray only they repent in time, lest the poor souls will see the hellish ends to which hellish means must lead.

To me the question is simple and binary. If waterboarding is torture, then it cannot be used at any time for any reason, ticking bombs or no. If it is not torture, to call it torture is a lie, and muddies the water of our moral contemplations just at the time when we needs must be the most calm, clearheaded, and dispassionate, if we are not to suffer the condemnation of candid history and the damnation from sovereign heaven.

At first, since many sober men, whose judgment I do not take lightly, treated these allegations not merely as serious, but as damning, I took the accusations to be reasonable, and expected there would be serious evidence to back it up.

For many years, for example, I had thought that waterboarding consisted of affixing the victim at such an angle that water could be poured in his nose could not reach his lungs, hence would produce the sensation of drowning with no possibility of actually drowning. I had thought the whole point was to deceive the victim into thinking he was about to die, telling him he was about to die, but actually he was in no danger. To me this seemed tantamount to torture.

Just yesterday I learned that the three terrorists who were waterboarded were each informed before the interrogation that there was no possibility of death. At which point, only the physical discomfort is present, which is the same or less as our own soldiers endure without complaint in their training to resist these techniques. So, once I knew the truth that a deceptive press had kept from me, did I realized that not only is this not tantamount to torture, it is not even close.

Then, after reading the report, I learned that the other things being called torture included: being slapped in the face or punched in the stomach; being thrown against a wall designed to flex so as not to hurt the prisoner but instead to make a loud noise and startle him; being stripped nude and put in a diaper; being deprived of sleep for days; being subjected to cold showers and cold air; being kept in the dark; being locked in a small box for hours or days on end; being dragged down a corridor with a dirty floor; suffering thirst and hunger; being manacled; being forced to maintain stress positions, which causes painful muscle cramps; and, when a prisoner tried to starve himself to death during a hunger strike, a feeding tube was inserted up his anus threw to his stomach.

I do not mean to make light of this, for one man died while in custody. These is due cause for sober men to condemn these practices and call for them never to be used. Such arguments are fairminded: for these are not kind techniques, not pleasant, and indeed are carefully calculated to be as unpleasant as possible. It would not be licit to treat civilians, police suspects, or soldiers captured in uniform or covered by the conventions of war in this rough and cruel fashion.

But to call these third degree tactics, cruel as they are, and cruel as they are meant to be, by the name torture is a strained metaphor, an unconscionable exaggeration, or a lie.

Perhaps it is a credit to the comfort of our lives that some of us cannot imagine what the whip, the scourge, the hooks, the saw, the boot, the choke-pear, the chair, the red-hot pincers, the red-hot branding iron, and the thumbscrew can do to a person, or the Judas Chair, the flaying knife, the estrapade, the Heretic fork, the Iron Maiden, the disemboweling spindle, the impaling pole, the abacination bowl, or the iron hoops of Skevington’s Daughter, or the grisly death known as Scaphism, or Two Boats.

Whoever calls an anal feeding tube, a slap in the face, a day in the cold, a week in the dark, or being dragged down a dirt-floored hall while naked by the word torture, and means this literally, simply knows nothing whereof he speaks, and perhaps the fool should be envied for his innocence ignorance.

Envied, perhaps, but not heeded during a serious national debate over matters of war and peace, right and wrong, just and unjust.

Let us by all means eschew any lies and exaggerations, hysteria or propaganda, which has surrounded this issue, and, yes, on both sides of the debate.

The one side who calls enhanced interrogation torture, I believe is making a grave error in judgment, and wish them to recover a sense of proportion: and yet, in all fairness, this is a matter needing a delicate nicety of judgment, and reasonable men can differ, so you have my respect, even though I cannot agree.

The other side, which in no wise do I consider to be my side, who says that enhanced interrogation is indeed torture but that torture is excusable because it is necessary, and who then hint it pleases them, you can go to to the devil, your father. Necessity is the tyrant’s plea. I would rather lose the war and keep my soul.

My side is that which comes, after careful and unemotional consideration, to the conclusion which are in nowise torture, nor can be called such by any candid and clearminded judge.

I freely admit to having grave doubts before I read the report and the minority report, because advocates, allegedly on my side, would scoff at the idea that enhanced interrogation was torture, but then would clear the throat and roll the eyes, and say that torture would be justified nonetheless. If they thought it was not torture, why add this caveat?

Read again what my Church teaches on such matters: she heeded such glosing lies and temptations and surrendered to them, and learned, too late, that the stain on our honor will never be sponged away.

But one had better be damned sure one it right on this point, lest one be damned.

That being said, one might wonder why I am so sure.

All I can say is that the contrast painfully clear between what is being called torture, and what is torture in truth.

I want you to imagine the same statues pictured above, but with the apostles having suffered fates no worse than what is alleged here: so instead of the flaying knife, St Bartholomew holds the anal feeding tube that saved rather than ending his life; St Peter is shown doubled over, as if struck painfully in the stomach; St Andrew is shown shivering in the cold; St Matthew, instead of a money bag, is depicted with bags under his eyes, as sign of not having slept for days; St Simon, instead of a saw that dismembered him, displays the manacles that chained him to a wall for many hours, very uncomfortably; St Andrew, instead of the cross where he hung for two days, is shown with a very painful leg cramp from being forced to squat for a long time; St Thomas is pictured next to a small box where he was confined for a time; St John, instead of a cup of poison, is shown with water being poured up his nostrils; St James the Greater is being dragged down a very dirty corridor, or perhaps gnawing the scallop shell on his hat because he missed a few meals; St James the Lesser is show being thrown roughly against a noisy wall.

Who among us, given the choice, would not give everything he owns, to avoid the real torments the real Apostles suffered and in return endure only these discomforts and disquiets, bruises and humiliations, but then to emerge unwounded, unmaimed, discomfort passed, life in no danger?


Martyrdom not only continues to the present day, Christians perish for the faith in greater numbers than ever before in history.

At about the same hour when I wrote the column above, Canon Andrew White, the Christian Vicar of Baghdad, reported that followers of Mohammed broke into a church, beheaded the priest, demanded that four children, all under 15, recant their faith and deny Christ — the same demand made of St James.  These brave Christian children all refused, saying “No, we love Jesus.”

The Muslims cut off their heads.

This is in the same area of the world where Yazidi boys are murdered by these barbarians and sold into slavery, and dozens of boys had their throats cut and were then burnt alive in their school for wanting an education, by these same followers of the Religion of Peace.

To those of you who cannot see the difference between this and squirting water up someone’s nose to induce a choking sensation, but where there is no danger and no harm, are blind because you wish to be blind. Your words and deeds give aid and comfort to the enemy, and abets and obscures their crimes, and you accuse those charged with our intelligence and defense, devoted, brave, and innocent.

May God have mercy on your souls. Saint James Matamoros, pray for us.