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The badges or symbols of the fourteen apostles.

Andrew, a cross, because he was crucifled on a cross shaped like the letter x.

Bartholomew, a knife, because he was flayed with a knife.

James the Greater, a scallop-shell, a pilgrim’s staff, or a gourd bottle, because he is the patron saint of pilgrims. (See Scallop-Shell.)

James the Less, a fuller’s pole, because he was killed by a blow on the head with a pole, dealt him by Simeon the fuller.

John, a cup with a winged serpent flying out of it, in allusion to the tradition about Aristodeʹmos, priest of Diana, who challenged John to drink a cup of poison. John made the sign of a cross on the cup, Satan like a dragon flew from it, and John then drank the cup, which was quite innocuous.

Judas Iscariot, a bag, because he had the bag and “hare what was put therein” (John xii. 6).

Jude, a club, because he was martyred with a club.

Matthew, a hatchet or halbert, because he was slain at Nadʹabar with a halbert.

Matthias, a battle-axe, because he was first stoned, and then beheaded with a battle-axe.


Paul, a sword, because his head was cut off with a sword. The convent of La Lisla, in Spain, boasts of possessing the very instrument.

Peter, a bunch of keys, because Christ gave him the “keys of the kingdom of heaven.” A cock, because he went out and wept bitterly when he heard the cock crow. (Matt. xxvi. 75.)

Philip, a long staff surmounted with a cross, because he suffered death by being suspended by the neck to a tall pillar.

Simon, a saw, because he was sawn to death, according to tradition.

Thomas, a lance, because he was pierced through the body, at Melʹiapour, with a lance.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Apocalyptic Number
Apollo Belvidere [Bel-ve-dear]
Apostate (The)
A posteriori [Latin, from the latter]
Apostles, where buried
Apostle Spoons
Apostles Creed (The)
Apostolic Fathers
Apostolic Majesty
Appeal to the Country (An)
Appian Way
Apple (Newton and the)

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