St. John was the youngest of the twelve apostles. He and his brother James were the sons of Zebedee of the town of Bethsaida. They had attached themselves as disciples of John the Baptist and from him learned that Jesus was the Messiah. They were fishermen by trade and led a very simple lifestyle. James and John were in a boat on the banks of the Jordan River, mending their nets, when Jesus called to them. Immediately they left Zebedee, their father, and followed Jesus.
That faith was to be rewarded by a special friendship with Jesus for the former fishermen - Peter, James and John. They alone were privileged to be present at the Transfiguration, the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. But John's friendship was even more special. His own Gospels refer to him as, "the disciple whom Jesus loved," the one who reclined next to Jesus at the Last Supper and in the hours of the Passion, when others fled or denied their Master. St. John kept his place by the side of Jesus and, at the last, stood by the cross with Mary. From the cross, the dying Savior bequeathed His Mother to the care of the faithful apostle when he said, "Son, behold your Mother. Woman, behold your son." From that very hour St. John took Mary into his home.
St. John was the last to write his Gospels and only at the request of the Elders.
Because of the depth of his Gospels and the fact that he was able to reach such spiritual heights in his Gospels, tradition has assigned to him the symbol of the eagle.
After the Ascension, St. John lived first at Jerusalem and then at Ephesus. He was thrown by Domitian into a caldron of boiling oil, and is a martyr though being miraculously preserved from harm. Afterwards, he was banished to the Isle of Patmos, where he received the heavenly visions described in the Apocalypse.
He died in peace at Ephesus in the year 100 A.D.