Saints for Today: Simon the Apostle (1st Century)


Feast Day: October 28

Simon the Zealot, called also the Canaanite (Mt 10:4; Mk 3:18), was mentioned several times in the New Testament. Not much is known about Simon except the fact that he is listed as one of the 12 Apostles in the Gospels.

Simon was known as “the Zealot” (Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13) because of his religious zeal to Jewish law. In Hebrew, Simon’s name means “God has answered.” Simon is mentioned on all four lists of the apostles and was one of the first disciples of Jesus. He is also referred to as “Simon the less,” to distinguish him from Simon Peter.

Simon, like several other apostles, disappears from history after Pentecost, but there are various traditions about his subsequent preaching and martyrdom. One Eastern source gives Edessa as the place of his death, but Western tradition (as represented in the Roman Missal and Martyrology) says that he first preached in Egypt and then joined Jude (who had been in Mesopotamia); they went together to Persia, where they suffered martyrdom at Sufian (or at Siani). This following dates from the 6th century, but the tradition goes back much further.

In art Simon’s usual attribute is a boat, as on East Anglian screens (with or without a book). He is also seen with a falchion type sword, which according to the tradition reproduced by the Golden Legend, was the weapon with which the heathen Jewish priests hewed him to death.


Bunson, Matthew and Margaret Bunson. “Encyclopedia of Saints-Second Edition.” Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2014.
Farmer, David. “Oxford Dictionary of Saints.” New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Trigilio, Rev. John, Ph.D, Th.D, and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti, Ph.D. “Saints for Dummies.” Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2010.


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