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A Levite. Son of Amram and Jochebed; brother of Moses and Miriam; husband of Elisheba; father of Eleazar, Abihu, Nadab, and Ithamar. During the Exodus out of Egypt, Moses placed Aaron in charge of the Israelites. While gathered at Mount Sinai, the Israelites came to believe Moses had left them and convinced Aaron to build a golden calf. When Moses returned, the worshippers of the golden idol were killed. Aaron was spared. Later, he became the first of Israel’s high priests.

4 BC – AD 50

Ruler of the kingdom of Osroene and its capital city of Edessa. The first Christian king. Legend says that Abgar had written to Jesus asking him to come heal him. Jesus replied that he must fulfill the things for which he had been sent, and instead promised to send one of his disciples once he had been “taken up.” That disciple, Thaddeus, brought a cloth with an image of Jesus on it. When Abgar touched it, he was miraculously healed. He then converted to Christianity. That is the legend. What is historically probable is that the cloth now known as the Shroud of Turin was discovered in Edessa during repairs to the walls after a flood in 525 and that the Shroud probably was taken to Edessa during Abgar’s reign, after his conversion to Christianity, and was hidden during the persecutions of Christians after Abgar’s death.

Son of Terah; husband of Sarah; father of Isaac, with Sarah; father of Ishmael, with Hagar. Originally called Abram. He grew up in Ur and later settled in Haran before being told by God to go to Canaan. Ordered by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham was obedient and prepared to sacrifice his son until an angel stopped him. Isaac’s descendants become the Jewish people. Considered the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

141 BC – 67 BC

Ruler of Judea from 76 BC to 67 BC. Wife of Aristobulus I; wife of Alexander Jannaeus. The last female ruler of Judea, she tried to protect the Pharisees from the wrath of her husband, Alexander. She installed her son, Hyrcanus II, as high priest, and removed the Sadducees from Jerusalem.

356 BC – 323 BC

Son of Phillip II, king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia. Tutored by Aristotle. After the assassination of his father, he ascended the throne (at age 20) and created one of the largest empires in the ancient world, stretching from northern Greece to India and Egypt. He died at the age of 32.

The first man, made in God’s image. Adam and his mate, Eve, were expelled from the Garden of Eden when they ate the forbidden fruit.

An apostle and one of the first disciples of Christ; disciple of John the Baptist. Brother of Simon Peter. Andrew was a fisherman from Bethsaida, at the north end of the Sea of Galilee east of the Jordan River. It was Andrew who brought the boy with five loaves and two fish to Jesus, who then miraculously turned them into enough food to feed a crowd of 5,000.

Daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. A prophetess. She joined the group made up of Simeon and the Holy Family when Jesus was brought to the temple for Presentation. She was overcome with joy and broadcast the news of the Messiah’s birth, not realizing it would reach hostile ears.

Father-in-law of the high priest, Caiaphas. A high priest, not of the Levitical priesthood but rather a political appointee of the Herodian dynasty. It was to Annas’ home that Jesus was taken after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Wife of Joachim; mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Anne was approximately 50 years old at the time of the Annunciation.

See Herod Antipas.

Unknown – 43 BC

Founder of the Herodian dynasty; father of Herod the Great; chief minister of Hyrcanus, ruler of Judea. Antipater provided a large Jewish army to a besieged Julius Caesar in Alexandria, Egypt, in 48 BC.

83 BC – 30 BC

Husband of Octavia; lover of Cleopatra. A Roman politician and general, Antony supported Julius Caesar. After Caesar’s assassination, Antony joined forces with Octavian, his brother-in-law and Caesar’s nephew, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus to form the Second Triumvirate. Antony and Octavian eventually expelled Lepidus and then grew hostile to each other. Antony was defeated at the Battle of Actium by Octavian’s forces, and fled to Egypt. He committed suicide, as did Cleopatra.

AD 1225 – AD 1274

An Italian Dominican friar and Catholic priest. A philosopher and theologian, best known for his Summa Theologiae. Pope Urban IV sent the Bishop of Orvieto as well as Thomas Aquinas and the theologian Bonaventure to Bolsena to take the depositions of all the witnesses to the bleeding of the Host during celebration of Mass by Peter of Prague. The Pope then asked Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure to submit proposals for a liturgy for the Feast of Corpus Christi, which would commemorate the miracle. When Bonaventure saw Thomas’ proposal, he tore up his own and asked the Pope to use Thomas’ instead. Thomas composed some of the Church’s greatest hymns as a portion of the Corpus Christi liturgy, including Pange lingua and Adoro te devote.

See Herod Archelaus.

Unknown – AD 604

A Benedictine monk and the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Chosen by Pope Gregory I in 595 to evangelize the followers of paganism in Britain, including King Ethelbert of Kent.

AD 354 – AD 430

Bishop of Hippo Regius. An early Christian theologian, best known for his works Confessions and City of God. In 386, at the age of 31, he converted to Christianity. In 393, a council of all the bishops in the Roman province of Africa (roughly, modern Tunisia) was held under the direction of Augustine of Hippo, which formally proposed the final canon of the scriptures.

63 BC – AD 14

Great-nephew of Julius Caesar; founder of the Roman Empire. Born Gaius Octavius, he was named as the adopted son and heir in Julius Caesar’s will. After Caesar’s assassination, Octavian formed the Second triumvirate with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus. The Triumvirate eventually split and Octavian defeated Mark Antony and sent Marcus Lepidus into exile. Augustus’ reign was known as the Pax Romana for the relative peace that marked his years as emperor. He greatly expanded the Roman Empire during this time, and issued orders for a census of the empire and its allies every fourteen years. As a member of the house of David, Joseph, husband of Mary, was required to report to Bethlehem. Augustus ruled for the first twenty years of Jesus’ life. (Tiberius ruled the remaining years.)


An ancient town in western Greece most famous for the naval battle between Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BC.

A Roman colony built on the site of Jerusalem. After Hadrian suppressed the bar Cocheba Revolt of 132–135, he had expelled all Jews from Jerusalem and ordered a new city, Aelia Capitolina, built over it. Golgotha and the nearby tombs were buried under the structure of his Temple of Venus.

A town located approximately five miles north of Jerusalem where Zechariah and Elizabeth, the Virgin Mary’s aunt, lived.

A city in Egypt located on the Mediterranean Sea, founded by Alexander the Great. Alexandria once boasted the largest library in the ancient world, the Great Library, as well as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Lighthouse of Alexandria. When the Persians threatened Jerusalem in the seventh century, the Sudarium was moved to Alexandria, Egypt, where it was venerated as the napkin containing Jesus’ blood.

An ancient city that was located in what is now southern Turkey, near the border of Syria. Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire (after Rome and Alexandria), with an estimated population of half a million people. Paul taught in the church at Antioch for a year prior to the Council of Jerusalem.

A southwestern coastal enclave located in Canaan that was ruled by Rome directly as part of Syria. The Holy Family stopped in Ascalon on their way home from Egypt.

An ancient kingdom that grew to be a major force in the Mesopotamian area. The Assyrians forced deportations of large portions of the populations of the Kingdom of Israel.

The capital city of Greece. In ancient times Athens was a powerful city-state and a leading center of learning. In 1205 the Shroud was said to have been taken from Constantinople to Athens in the possession of Otho de la Roche.


When the Blessed Virgin Mary was bodily taken up into Heaven. On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed, “(W)e pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: That the Immaculate Mother of God, the Ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 15, and is a holy day of obligation. Eastern Orthodox followers also celebrate this event on August 15; they call it The Dormition of the Virgin Mary.

The rising of Jesus to Heaven, forty days after the Resurrection. Witnessed by the eleven remaining apostles. Traditionally believed to have taken place at the Mount of Olives, between Jerusalem and Bethany. The Solemnity of the Ascension is celebrated on the sixth Thursday after Easter, and is a holy day of obligation.

The announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would bear the Son of God: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” The event took place at the home of Anne and Mary in Nazareth. The Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated on March 25.



A criminal in the time of Jesus. “Bar Abbas,” translates to “Son of the Father.”  On Passover, Roman custom dictated the release of one prisoner. Pontius Pilate offered the crowd the choice of either Barabbas or Jesus to be released. The Jewish leaders convinced the crowd to choose Barabbas.

A disciple of Christ who first took the story of Jesus to non-Jews. Barnabas, who once sold a field he owned and gave the money earned from it to the apostles, traveled to Antioch, Syria, Turkey, and his homeland of Cyprus to minister to Gentiles.

Son of Timaeus. A blind man from Jericho whom Jesus healed.

AD 1221 – AD 1274

An Italian Franciscan and theologian. Bonaventure accompanied Thomas Aquinas to Bolsena to take the depositions of all the witnesses and to ascertain the facts regarding the bleeding of the Host during Mass. Pope Urban IV asked both men to submit proposals for a liturgy for the Feast of Corpus Christi. When Bonaventure saw Thomas’ proposal, he tore up his own and asked the Pope to use Thomas’.

Wife of Uriah, a Hittite and soldier in King David’s elite corps; mother of Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon, with David. When David spied a naked Bathsheba, he lusted after her, calling her to his palace and laying with her. When he discovered she was pregnant, David tried to have Uriah sleep with her. Uriah refused as sexual abstinence was required during war. David then resorted to murder; he ordered Uriah to attack the city of Rabbah while telling the commander, Joab, to pull back support troops during the assault.

A disciple of Christ. Bartholomew was from Cana and it seems likely that he and Simon the Zealot, also called Simon the Cananaean, were present at the Wedding at Cana. The first miracle attributed to Jesus—changing water into wine—contributed to their decision to follow him.

85 BC – 42 BC

Marcus Junius Brutus was a Roman politician during the time of Julius Caesar. Although considered a friend of Caesar, he led the assassination plot against him.


A powerful kingdom in the Mesopotamian region, whose capital city of Babylon, one of the oldest cities in the world, boasted one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.   The ruler Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Jewish nation and forced deportations of large portions of the populations of the Kingdom of Judea.

A village outside Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, that was home to Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. It was here that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Bethany was also home to Simon the Leper.

A small village six miles south of Jerusalem. Bethlehem, which means “the house of bread,” was where King David was born. It was here that Joseph, a descendant of David, reported for the Roman census with Mary, and where Jesus was born.

A town on the shore of Lake Bolsena in central Italy. In 1263 Peter of Prague, a priest conflicted over the idea of transubstantiation, was making a pilgrimage to Rome when he stopped at Bolsena. He celebrated Mass at the Basilica of Santa Cristina before an eighth century altar, praying for faith. As he consecrated the Host, it bled profusely, and he wrapped it in the corporal (a linen cloth on which the consecrated elements are placed). The miracle at Bolsena led to the construction of the Orvieto Cathedral and the Feast of Corpus Christi.

See also Peter of Prague and Urban IV.



A Sadducee and Jewish high priest; son-in-law of Annas. A bitter enemy of Jesus, Caiaphas convinced the crowd in Jerusalem to have Jesus crucified.

AD 12 – AD 41

A Roman emperor best known for his cruelty and perversity. A few years after the Crucifixion, Herod Agrippa, a close friend of Caligula’s uncle Claudius, played a critical role in the latter’s elevation to emperor after Caligula’s assassination.

85 BC – 42 BC

A Roman senator and leader of the plot to assassinate Julius Caesar. Herod the Great supported Octavian and Antony against Brutus and Cassius.

10 BC – AD 54

Uncle of Caligula; friend of Herod Agrippa. A Roman emperor who ascended the throne after the assassination of Caligula. Claudius ordered all Jews (deemed to include Christians) out of Rome in 49.

Unknown – AD 99

A leading member of the Church in the first century, trained by Peter. He became third Bishop of Rome in 88.  Author of the First Letter to the Church in Corinth.

69 BC – 30 BC

Ruler of Egypt. Lover of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. In the subsequent Roman civil war between Octavian and Antony, Herod initially supported Antony against Octavian but changed sides and submitted to Octavian after the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium. Following Antony’s final defeat, Cleopatra committed suicide.

Brother of Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary; second husband of a different Mary. Father of Jude and Simeon and perhaps of Salome and Mary.  A disciple of Jesus, to whom the resurrected Jesus appeared at Emmaus.


A coastal town on the Mediterranean Sea in north-central Israel built by Herod the Great. Caesarea was the administrative center of Judea for six hundred years. It was here that Paul spent two years in jail.

A town located forty miles north of the Sea of Galilee, close to Mount Hermon. Some scholars believe the Transfiguration took place on Mount Hermon near here.

A village in Galilee five miles northeast of Nazareth. The apostles Bartholomew and Simon the Zealot were from Cana. It was here, during a wedding feast, that Jesus performed his first miracle, that of turning water into wine.

A fishing village 120 miles from Jerusalem that was Jesus’ headquarters during his ministry. The apostle Matthew was a tax collector in Capernaum and Peter there from Bethsaida. It was here that Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. It is also most likely that this was the location of the Sermon on the Mount.

In ancient times, a wealthy city in modern-day Turkey that was the capital city of the Byzantine Empire. It was said to house Christian relics, such as the Crown of Thorns and the True Cross, as well as the Shroud for a time before it was moved to Athens.

An ancient coastal city in Greece, located between Athens and Sparta. The apostle Paul founded the Church of Corinth, and the city is best known for the letters Paul wrote to Christian followers. The city, which was a busy commercial center during the Roman Empire, was destroyed by earthquakes in 365 and 375.


The death of Jesus on the cross, the day after the Last Supper. The synoptic Gospels agree that Jesus died at the “ninth hour,” or 3:00 p.m. Among the disciples of Jesus present at the Crucifixion were his mother Mary, along with Mary Magdalene and Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and her daughter, Salome, the mother of the apostles James and John. Of the men, only John was present. Members of the Sanhedrin were there, including Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, and probably Caiaphas. The site of the Crucifixion was a rise called Golgotha, or Calvary, located outside of the walls of Jerusalem. Nearby Golgotha was a stone quarry with   three tombs. One of the tombs belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, who offered it for Jesus’ burial. The Crucifixion is commemorated each year on Good Friday.



A prophet. Most likely born a nobleman in Jerusalem, Daniel was captured and taken to Babylon during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. He became a royal advisor to the king, known for his ability to interpret two of the king’s dreams as well as God’s writing on the wall to a later king, Belshazzar. Daniel had two visions in which as “the man Gabriel” appeared to him (Dn 9:21).

1040 BC – 970 BC

A shepherd boy who became the second of Israel’s kings (after Saul). David defeated the Philistine giant Goliath. David united the twelve tribes of Israel and became King of Israel. He captured Jerusalem and made it the capital. Author of many of the Psalms. Father of Solomon.

AD 1300 – AD 1356

A French knight. The first documented exhibition of the Shroud in the West was in 1357 in France in the possession of the widow and young son of a French knight, Geoffrey de Charny. Members of his family, including relations by marriage, had participated in the Fourth Crusade that besieged and sacked Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1203–1204. In 1314 a Geoffrey de Charny, Templar Master of Normandy, was burned at the stake with the last Grand Master. The Templars’ vow of chastity means that the later Geoffrey de Charny was not a legitimate son of the Normandy Master. While a family relationship has not been established, it is obvious that the Geoffrey de Charny whose family produced the Shroud in AD 1357 had been named for the Templar Master. The Geoffrey de Charny who was in possession of the Shroud was killed at Poitiers in 1356 while saving King John’s life.

Unknown – c. AD 1230

A French nobleman who participated in the Fourth Crusade (1202–1204). In 1205 the Shroud of Turin was said to have been taken from Constantinople to Athens in the possession of Otho de la Roche, second-in-command of the Crusade, who received Athens and Thessalonika as his reward. De la Roche became Preceptor of the Knights Templar in 1225.

AD 1480 – AD 1531

A noblewoman; wife of Duke Philibert of Savoy. The Duchess of Savoy bequeathed a sample of the Shroud of Turin to her local church.


A region of ten towns east of the Jordan River.



AD 1330  – AD 1376

Prince of Wales; son of King Edward III; father of King Richard II. In 1346 Edward, Prince of Wales, known as the Black Prince due to the color of his armor, decimated the nobility and chivalry of France at Crecy, France. In September 1356, the Black Prince destroyed a new French army at Poitiers, France, and captured King John of France, who was held for an enormous ransom

AD 1312 – AD 1377

Son of Edward II; father of Edward of Woodstock (the Black Prince). In 1328 Edward III of England claimed the French crown by inheritance through his mother, commencing the Hundred Years War between England and France.

A prophet from the village of Tishbe near the Jordan River. Sent by God to remind the Israelites of His power. Elijah challenged the king and queen of Israel, Ahab and Jezebel, to forsake the Canaanite gods Baal and Asherah and to follow God instead. A battle of the gods ensued on Mount Carmel, where God showed His power by flashing fire from the sky. Elijah was taken up to Heaven by a chariot of fire. Author of the Books of Kings. He appeared with Moses and Jesus during the Transfiguration.

Sister of Anne, the Virgin Mary’s mother; wife of Zechariah; daughter of Aaron; mother of John the Baptist. Approximately sixty years old at the time of the Annunciation. Elizabeth had prayed for six months to know the identity of the Messiah whose way was to be prepared by her son, John. Her prayers were answered when the Virgin Mary and her mother, Anne, visited Elizabeth during the time of her pregnancy. “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child leaped in her womb….” (Lk 1:41).

AD 1774 – AD 1824

A German Augustinian who described a vision of a house in which Mary had lived and died. Though she had never been to Asia Minor, she described the house and its surroundings in great detail. In 1891 Lazarists from Smyrna, following the published account of her visions, found the ruins of a small building which had been part of a small monastery. The building originally was a house, which was converted into a house church during the first century.

One of the major Jewish religious sects, along with the Pharisees and Sadducees, that lived throughout Judea in the time of Jesus. Essenes were known for communal living and a strict adherence of the Sabbath. Some modern scholars believe the Dead Sea Scrolls were part of an Essene collection.

AD 270 – c. AD 340

Bishop of Caesarea; Greek historian of Christianity; author of Life of Constantine and Church History. A favorite of the Emperor Constantine, Eusebius heeded the emperor’s request to draw up a list of what he proposed as a canon of the scriptures. His list was subsequently translated into Latin by Jerome and known as the Vulgate.

The first woman, created by God from a rib of Adam. Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit, as was Adam. Their actions resulted in both being cast out of the Garden of Eden.


A city in Mesopotamia that served as an early Christian center. A Christian council was held there in 197. According to the historian Eusebius, King Abgar exchanged letters with Jesus. The Mandylion, also known as the Image of Edessa, was a cloth folded to display the face of Jesus upon it.  It has been proven to be the same as the Shroud of Turin.

A village seven miles north of Jerusalem. After Jesus’s death, two disciples, Cleophas and Simon, the son of Cleophas and Mary, left Jerusalem for Emmaus. As the two were on the road, a stranger overtook them and fell into conversation with them. Jesus made himself known to them as his appearance changed when he blessed and broke the bread.

A city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey that was an important Christian center. Ephesus was the largest and richest city between Italy and Antioch, and its church was too important to leave indefinitely without apostolic supervision. Paul had the apostolic oversight of Ephesus, whose church he had founded. He lived in Ephesus from 52 to 55. John and Mary probably went to Ephesus in 59. Mary would have been about seventy-nine years old, assuming Jesus’ birth in December 7 BC. There is a strong local tradition that the Church of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus was built on the site of the house where Mary lived with John. Some historians believe Mary died in Ephesus. In 431, the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus was held in that church to decide the status of Mary. Unquestionably, Ephesus was selected as the site of the Council in order to influence the outcome. The Council declared Mary to be “Theotokos,” not just the mother of Jesus’ humanity but also the “God-bearer,” the Mother of Jesus in his divinity.

An uninhabited, uncultivated rocky hill about two miles outside of Capernaum where tradition says the miracle of the multiplication of loaves of bread and fish occurred. In the fourth century, after the legalization of Christianity under Constantine, three churches were built on the site, commemorating the Sermon on the Mount, the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, and the Apparition of Jesus to the Apostles. It currently is the location of the Church of the Beatitudes.



A city in Portugal. The best documented example of Marian apparitions is to the shepherd children—Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto—at Fatima in 1917. Mary asked the children to tell the faithful to pray the rosary for the conversion of Russia. She promised to send a sign that would make their witness to the apparitions credible to others. Thousands saw the sun “dance” on October 13, 1917, including Marxist atheists many miles away.



An angel sent by God. Gabriel is named four times in the Bible: (1) in a visit to Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, to announce the birth of John; (2) in a visit to Mary, to announce the conception of Jesus; and (3) in two visits to Daniel. When Gabriel appeared to Mary in the form of a man, his features were supernaturally radiant and his white robes supernaturally white. She instantly recognized he was an angel rather than a man.


A mountainous province in northern Israel where Jesus spent most of his life and where he began his ministry. Joseph was a carpenter from Nazareth and brought Mary and Jesus there after their return from Egypt. Towns in Galilee included Nazareth, Cana, and Capernaum.

A grotto in an olive grove on the slope of the Mount of Olives where Jesus spent his last night. The grotto is irregular in shape, but generally 54’ x 30’ and up to 11’ high. It was well-suited as accommodation for Jesus and his apostles to sleep and use as their base close to the city. Judas led officials to Gethsemane, where Jesus was arrested.

Once he provided the tomb for Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, disappear in Judean records. The only tradition about Joseph holds that he founded Glastonbury Abbey in Somersetshire in southwestern England. Glastonbury’s unique importance was acknowledged by the burial there in the mid-fifth century of “King Arthur,” the Romanized Catholic who defeated the pagan German invaders and preserved a Romanized Catholic Celtic Britain for another 125 years.

A hillside outside the gates of Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified. Called Golgotha, “the place of a skull,” it had the advantages of proximity to the gate, so it was not far to take criminals; its proximity to a major road for the effect of terrorizing the hostile natives; its topological prominence, as being a discernable rise above the road; and its ease of access for leading prisoners up a gentle incline to the permanent posts on which they and their crosses would be raised. The total distance from the Antonia, the Roman fortress, to Golgotha is about 1,000 yards.



AD 117 – AD 138

A Roman emperor best known for building a wall marking the northern borders of Britannia, called Hadrian’s Wall. Both Golgotha and the nearby tombs, to which Jesus was brought after the Crucifixion, were buried under the temple of Venus that Hadrian ordered built.

AD 250 – c. AD 330

Wife of Emperor Constantius Chlorus; mother of Constantine the Great. Constantine, who had converted to Christianity, asked his mother to locate Christian sites.  She ordered the Hadrian-built temple of Venus in Jerusalem torn down. The titulus, the wooden placard announcing the offense for which Jesus was executed (his claim to be King of the Jews) and a piece of wood traditionally identified as a portion of the cross by a miraculous test, were found in a cistern under the temple. Constantine had the Church of the Holy Sepulchre built on the site. Helena is also credited with helping with the building of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

11 BC – AD 44

King of Judea; son of Aristobulus IV and Berenice; grandson of Herod the Great. Herod Agrippa was known to favor the Pharisees, and it was believed that he would persecute the Church to curry favor with them. He executed James, son of Zebedee, in August 41 and imprisoned Peter during the same persecution. Peter would have been executed but for his miraculous escape. All the apostles still in Jerusalem dispersed as a result of Herod Agrippa’s persecution, and it is likely that many other leading Christians who are not named in the records did the same.

20 BC – AD 39

Son of Herod the Great. After the death of Herod the Great, the Roman emperor Augustus gave Herod Antipas Galilee and Perea (east of the Jordan) to rule over. He married Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Salome, Philip and Herodias’ daughter, danced for Antipas, who was so pleased with the dance he told her she could have anything she wanted. She asked Antipas for the head of John the Baptist. During Jesus’ trial, Pontius Pilate sent Jesus to Antipas, who mocked him and sent him back to Pilate.

23 BC – AD 18

Son of Herod the Great. After Herod’s death, the Roman emperor Augustus gave Archelaus the kingdoms of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea (south of Judea) to rule over. Augustus removed him as king in AD 6 for his excessive cruelty.

Unknown – AD 34

Son of Herod the Great and Cleopatra of Jerusalem; half-brother of Herod Antipas and Herod Archelaus. Upon Herod the Great’s death, Philip was given the territories north and east of the Jordan River. He married Herodias and they had a daughter, Salome. She divorced him and married his brother Herod Antipas.

15 BC – c. AD 40

Wife of Philip, son of Herod the Great; wife of Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great; mother of Salome.  Herodias married her brother-in-law, Philip the Tetrarch, in violation of Jewish law. Herodias convinced her daughter Salome to ask for John the Baptist’s head.

73 BC – 4 BC

Roman-appointed king of Judea; son of Antipater the Idumaean; father of Herod Antipas, Herod Archelaus, and Herod Philip. During the Roman civil war following Julius Caesar’s assassination, Herod supported Octavian and Antony against Brutus and Cassius. In the subsequent civil war between Octavian and Antony, Herod initially supported Antony but later submitted to Octavian after the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium. It was Herod the Great who ordered the Magi to find the newborn King of the Jews. When they failed to report back, Herod ordered the execution of all male children in and around Bethlehem, two years old or younger, known as the Massacre of the Innocents.



Unknown – AD 417

Pope from 401 to 417. In 393 a council of all the bishops in the Roman province of Africa was held under the direction of Augustine of Hippo. At the council, the bishops recommended the list Eusebius had composed for Constantine as the proposed canon of the scriptures. It was this list that became the biblical  canon adopted  by Pope Innocent in 405.


The Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, took the form of human flesh from his mother, Mary, and that He is both fully God and fully man.

The dogma of the Catholic Church which states that Mary was free from the taint of original sin from the moment she was conceived. On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed, “We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.” The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception id celebrated on December 8; it is a holy day of obligation.



100 BC – 44 BC

A Roman general and politician who claimed to be a descendant of the Trojan prince, Aeneas. Caesar was a seasoned general who defeated Pompey in the Roman Civil War and was appointed dictator. Antipater, the chief minister of Hyrcanus and father of Herod the Great, brought a large Jewish army to relieve a besieged Julius Caesar in Alexandria, Egypt, in 48 BC. Caesar was assassinated by Roman senators on the Ides of March (March 15) 44 BC.

An apostle. Son of James. Author of the Epistle of Jude. In naming the apostles, Matthew and Mark include Thaddeus on their lists. Luke and Acts do not list a Thaddeus, but rather list Judas, or Jude, the son of James. Tradition holds these two to be the same man, referred to as Jude Thaddeus.

An apostle. Judas is known for betraying Jesus. He agreed to deliver Jesus to authorities for thirty pieces of silver. He led the soldiers to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus and his apostles had stayed after the Last Supper. Upon arriving, Judas kissed Jesus on the cheek, thereby alerting the soldiers to Jesus’ identity. Judas attempted to return the silver coins to the priests when he learned that Jesus was condemned to die. His remorse at his actions led to his suicide.

AD 37 – c. AD 100

A first-century historian. Josephus was born Yosef ben Matityahu in Jerusalem and led the Jewish forces in Galilee against Rome in the First Jewish-Roman War. He was captured and became a slave to the Emperor Vespasian, who eventually gave Josephus his freedom. He later became a Roman citizen, serving as an advisor and translator when Vespasian’s son Titus led the Siege of Jerusalem. He is best known for his works related to Jewish history, including The Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews.

A respected Jewish leader; member of the Sanhedrin. Joseph, a secret disciple of Jesus, was present at his crucifixion. He asked Pontius Pilate for Jesus’ body. Joseph owned of one of the tombs carved into the face of the quarry a short distance away from Golgotha. He told John of his ownership of the nearby tomb and offered it to Mary for Jesus’ burial. Tradition asserts that Glastonbury Abbey in Somersetshire, England, was founded by Joseph of Arimathea during the first century.

A disciple. Son of Alpheus and Mary; brother of the apostle James. One of several disciples who had faithfully followed Jesus throughout his ministry without being enrolled by Jesus in the twelve-man core leadership. Peter proposed the appointment of a twelfth apostle to replace Judas Iscariot. The ten other apostles nominated two candidates—Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. It was Matthias who was ultimately chosen.

Husband of the Virgin Mary; earthly father of Jesus. Joseph, who was descended from the House of David, was a carpenter from Nazareth. Joseph last appears in the Bible when he and Mary took the young Jesus to Jerusalem for Passover. He probably lived long enough to train Jesus in his carpenter’s trade and died before Jesus commenced his ministry.

Son of Zechariah, a Jewish priest, and Elizabeth, probably the aunt of the Virgin Mary; cousin of Jesus. John was born about six months before Jesus. He prepared Israel for the coming of the Lord by preaching a gospel of repentance for the remission of sins. He baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. John was imprisoned by Herod Antipas, who later obliged his stepdaughter Salome’s request for his head.

AD 1319 – AD 1364

King of France. In September 1356, the Black Prince destroyed the French army at Poitiers, France, and captured King John. John was taken to England and held for an enormous ransom of 3 million crowns.

An apostle; author of the Gospel of John. Son of Salome and Zebedee; brother of James. John was present at the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the Transfiguration, and at Jesus’ private prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. John was sent by the apostles to evangelize in Samaria. He also accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Cyprus, the first leg of Paul’s first missionary journey, in 46. John moved to Ephesus with Mary about 59 and was eventually exiled and died on Patmos Island.

Wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward. Accompanied Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary, wife of Cleophas, and Salome to Jesus’s tomb.

6 BC – c. AD 30

Son of God; the Messiah. Conceived of the Virgin Mary; descended from the line of King David through his earthly father, Joseph, and through his mother, Mary, probably through her father, Joachim. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and spent much of his youth in Nazareth. He was sentenced to death and crucified in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate.

AD 347 – AD 420

Priest, theologian, and historian, best known for the Vulgate, his Latin translation of the Bible. At the emperor Constantine’s request, Jerome’s father Eusebius drew up a list of what he proposed as a canon of the scriptures. It was this list that was subsequently translated into Latin by Jerome.

An apostle. Son of Salome and Zebedee; brother of John. James was present at the wedding at Cana, the Transfiguration, and at Jesus’ private prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. James was beheaded on Herod Agrippa’s orders in August 41.

An apostle. Son of Mary and Alpheus. Author of the Epistle of James. When the apostles were dispersed from Jerusalem in 41–42, James became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. He was martyred by the Jews at Jerusalem during a gubernatorial interregnum in 62.

A ruler of the synagogue of Capernaum. Since Capernaum was Jesus’ headquarters during his ministry and Jesus had taught in its synagogue, Jairus obviously knew Jesus and was well aware of his healing power. He sought Jesus out to heal his daughter. However, as Jesus was on his way there, she died. By the time he reached the house, the professional mourners, family, and neighbors had commenced the ritualized wailing. Jesus said to Jairus, “only believe, and she will be well.” The crowd mocked him. Jesus raised the child from death in the presence of five witnesses—Peter, James and John, and her parents.


A region of ancient Israel between Samaria to the north and Idumea to the south, named for the tribe of Judah. Cities in Judea included Jerusalem, Bethany, Emmaus, Jericho, and Hebron.

The largest river in Israel. It flows from the Mount Hermon to the Dead Sea. The ancient Israelites crossed the Jordan River to the Promised Land. John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the waters of the Jordan.

A holy city for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was captured by King David and became the capital city of the Kingdom of Israel. David’s son Solomon built the First Temple there. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, and suffered through occupations by the Seleucids and Romans. It was in Jerusalem where Jesus spent his last days.

A town northeast of Jerusalem and about six miles from the Jordan River. Joshua and the Israelites brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down. It was also the site of Herod the Great’s winter palace. Jesus passed through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem, where he healed a blind beggar and invited a dishonest tax collector named Zacchaeus to spend time with him.



A valley located between the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem. On the night before his death, Jesus left Jerusalem and headed to the Garden of Gethsemane, which was located at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Before his arrest, Jesus could not have failed to see the crowd approaching across the narrow Kidron valley.



Brother of Mary and Martha. Most likely a friend of Jesus. Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of the brother and sisters. He went to Lazarus’ tomb and ordered the gravestone rolled back. He then ordered Lazarus to come out. Lazarus did, and then a few days later hosted a banquet for Jesus, which occurred on the Saturday before the Crucifixion. The only time that the Bible mentions Jesus crying is when he heard the news of Lazarus’ death.

A physician and Gentile who traveled with Paul of Tarsus. Author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts.


A town in Italy. A monastery of refugee Basilian (Greek rite) monks was established as St. Legontian at Lanciano, Italy, a few miles from the Adriatic coast. Tradition holds that a monk constantly prayed to overcome his doubt as to whether the consecrated bread and wine were truly the body and blood of Christ. One day, as he was celebrating Mass, he spoke the words of consecration and the elements visibly became flesh and blood. The congregation responded to his outcry and was likewise overcome. The host and five globules into which the blood congealed have been preserved for more than 1,200 years and are on exhibition behind the altar of St. Francis’ Church, built over the earlier St. Legontian.

A city in Anatolia, now Turkey, where Paul preached on two missionary journey, first with Barnabas and then with Silas. It was in Lystra that Paul met Timothy.


The final meal of Jesus, taken with the twelve apostles on the night before He died. It was during the meal that He instituted the Holy Eucharist and predicted that one of his apostles would betray him. The meal took place in an upper room of a residence in Jerusalem (The Cenacle on Mount Zion). Celebrated on Holy Thursday (also, Maundy Thursday), the day before Good Friday.



Astrologers, most likely from Babylonia or Persia. The Magi presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Mary’s exhibition of Jesus to the Magi was the first appearance of Jesus to the Gentile world, his Epiphany to the Gentiles.

A group of Jewish leaders who revolted against the Hellenistic influence on Jews and led the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire in 167 BC to 63 BC. The Maccabees founded the ruling Hasmonean dynasty, which was the ruling dynasty of Judea until yielding to Herod the Great and, consequently, the Herodian dynasty.

A slave of the Jewish high priest. Malchus was present when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. As the guards and servants of the high priest surged forward to seize Jesus, the apostle Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of Malchus. Jesus put out his hand and healed Malchus’ ear, the last miracle he performed before his death.

See Duchess of Savoy.

Cousin of Barnabas; son of Mary of Jerusalem. Author of the Gospel of Mark. John Mark is traditionally believed to be the unidentified young man who escaped at Gethsemane by slipping out of his linen cloak and running off naked.

Sister of Mary and Lazarus; friend of Jesus. Martha lived in Bethany with her sister and brother and hosted Jesus at their house several times. She once complained to Jesus that she was doing all the work preparing the meal while her sister just sat and talked. Jesus rebuked her, telling her that she was too concerned with details while her sister understood what truly mattered.

Mother of Jesus; wife of Joseph; only child of Anne and Joachim. Mary, who lived in Nazareth, was about thirteen years old at the time of the Annunciation. The earliest Fathers called Mary “the New Eve”—the former Eve was seduced to disobey God, but Mary was persuaded to obey God. Catholic dogmas state that Mary was the Mother of God and hold to her perpetual virginity, Immaculate Conception, and Assumption into Heaven. Historians differ on their beliefs as to what happened to Mary after Jesus’ death. Some believe Mary died in Jerusalem and was buried in a tomb next to Gethsemane. Others believe Mary went to Ephesus with John and died there. On balance, it seems most likely that Mary and John did live for a time in Ephesus but that she returned to Jerusalem shortly before departing this earth.

Wife of Cleophas; widow of Alpheus; mother, with Alpheus, of the apostle James and Joses (also spelled Joseph); mother, with Cleophas, of Simon and Jude. Her daughter Salome was probably by Alpheus, and there was another daughter, of whom nothing is known.

Sister of Martha and Lazarus; friend of Jesus. Mary lived in Bethany with her sister and brother and hosted Jesus at their house several times. Although known for sitting and talking with Jesus while her sister worked, Mary is perhaps best remembered for her actions during Jesus’ final visit. She took a jar of expensive perfume and poured it on his feet, wiping the oils with her hair. When Judas objected to this extravagance, Jesus rebuked him, telling him that Mary was doing it in preparation for his burial.

Tradition says that she was a prostitute from the town of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus exorcized Mary of “seven demons,” and she became a disciple. Mary Magdalene was present when Jesus was crucified and was the first disciple to whom Jesus appeared after the Crucifixion.

An apostle. Author of the Gospel of Matthew. A tax collector in Capernaum, he accepted Jesus’ invitation to become a disciple. When Jewish leaders criticized Jesus for having supper with Matthew and his friends, Jesus replied that he had not come to dine with the righteous, but with sinners.

An apostle. After Jesus ascended into Heaven, Peter proposed the appointment of a twelfth apostle to replace Judas Iscariot. The ten other apostles nominated two candidates—Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. It was Matthias who was selected by lot.

Prophet and lawgiver. Son of Amram and Jochebed; brother of Miriam and Aaron; husband of Zipporah; father of Gershom. Born in Egypt, Moses was saved by his Hebrew mother from Pharaoh’s decree to drown all newborn Israelites. Jochebed placed him in a basket and had her daughter Miriam float it towards the Egyptian palace. Pharaoh’s daughter saw the basket, rescued Moses from the Nile, and raised him as her son. When Moses later killed an Egyptian, who was beating a Hebrew slave, Moses fled in fear of being punished. Moses escaped to the Sinai and ended up in the land of Midian, in the tent of a shepherd named Jethro. Moses wed Jethro’s daughter, Zipporah, and tended his father-in-law’s sheep for years until one day he spied a fiery bush on Mount Sinai. It was God, who ordered Moses to free the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. After Moses brought ten plagues on the Egyptians, Pharaoh relented and let the Israelites leave. Moses led the Exodus across the Red Sea to Mount Sinai, where God gave him the Ten Commandments. Moses never reached the Promised Land. He died on Mount Nebo in Jordan.

A Roman god of commerce and travelers and the guide of souls to the underworld. He is commonly identified with the Greek god Hermes.


A city in northern Italy. In 313, Emperor Constantine approved the Edict of Milan, which guaranteed freedom of religion for Christians. The pool under the Cathedral in Milan is where St. Ambrose baptized St. Augustine.

A mountain in Samaria, near Mount Ebal and the ancient city of Shechem, that was revered by the Samaritans as the most sacred mountain. Moses told the Israelites to celebrate with blessings and cursings on the two mountains. Blessings were read from Mount Gerizim and curses from Mount Ebal. Pontius Pilate ordered the massacre of Samaritans at Mount Gerizim a few years after Jesus’ death, which event led to his being relieved.

One of two high mountains in the area of Galilee where the Transfiguration is thought to have occurred.

A hill outside of Jerusalem across the Kidron valley. The Garden of Gethsemane and the town of Bethany are located on the Mount of Olives.

One of two high mountains in Galilee, in the Jezreel valley, where the Transfiguration is thought to have occurred. In ancient Israelite history, it was the place where Deborah and her army took on the superior forces of the Canaanites.

An area in southwestern Jerusalem where the Last Supper was held.



AD 37 – AD 68

Son of Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippa the Younger (sister of Caligula); nephew of Caligula; great-nephew of and successor to the Roman emperor Claudius. Nero was Roman emperor from 54 to 68. In 64, the Great Fire of Rome destroyed most of the city. Nero blamed the fire on the Christians; hence, the Neronian persecution of Christians began in late 64 or early 65.

A Jewish leader and member of the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus had secretly come to Jesus by night to speak with him, obviously sharing with Joseph of Arimathea the same fear of expulsion from the Sanhedrin and the synagogue if he were thought to be a believer. While Nicodemus clearly was no disciple of Jesus at the time of this encounter, he nevertheless was seeking a deeper knowledge of Jesus, and his search ripened into faith by the time of the Crucifixion. He came forward to assist Joseph of Arimathea with burying Jesus. Nothing is known of what became of Nicodemus, but it is likely that he suffered the consequences of his public kindness to Mary and Jesus’ friends.


A village eight miles south of Nazareth on the border of Samaria. The site of the first raising of the dead by Jesus. The man, the only son of his mother, sat up and began to speak after Jesus told him to arise.

A town in the province of Galilee, approximately 90 miles north of Jerusalem and four miles southeast of Sepphoris. Joseph was a carpenter there; Mary lived there with her mother; Jesus was raised there, learning the carpentry trade, and left Nazareth to start his ministry in Capernaum.



AD 185 – c. AD 254

Early third-century theologian. Born in Alexandria to Christian parents, Origen is best known as a biblical scholar whose collection of biblical writing helped to form the New Testament. Origen noted that there was a very old tradition that the Transfiguration took place on Mount Tabor.

One of two branches of the Germanic peoples called Goths that played a major role in the fall of the Roman Empire. The other branch was the Visigoths, who sacked Rome in 410.


A city in northern Spain. The Sudarium of Oviedo, Spain, is a cloth of common fabric (unlike the fine, expensively woven herringbone-patterned Shroud). It is the “napkin which had been on his head,” referred to in John 20:7. It has been kept at Oviedo Cathedral since 761.

A town in central Italy. The corporal of Bolsena is on view above the altar of the Chapel of the Corporal in Orvieto.



A Pharisee and later disciple of Jesus who preached Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Author of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 2 Timothy, and Philemon. Born in Tarsus as Saul, he was not only a Jew but a Roman citizen as well. As a Pharisee, he persecuted Christians, including being the official witness in the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen. On the road to Damascus one day, Saul was blinded by an intense light. It was Jesus, asking why Saul was persecuting him. He converted and began preaching, even while he was beaten and imprisoned on several occasions. His teaching that it was not necessary for the Gentiles to be circumcised and to follow the law of Moses brought the conflict with the Judaizers to a head and resulted in the Council of Jerusalem in 48 A.D., which ruled in Paul’s favor. The Council of Jerusalem agreed that James, Peter, and John would evangelize among the Jews, while Paul and Barnabas would evangelize among the Gentiles. Tradition holds that Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and later beheaded in Rome.

Apostle. Brother of Andrew. Baptized by John the Baptist; present at the wedding at Cana. Originally named Simon, Peter was from Bethsaida, at the north end of the Sea of Galilee, east of the Jordan River, although he had moved across the Jordan to Capernaum on its west side, since his house was there at the time Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law. It was at the house of the ex-high priest Annas that Peter denied Jesus thrice. He was the first apostle to whom Jesus appeared, confirming the primacy of Peter among the disciples. Jesus re-named him as Peter and stated that he would found his “church upon this rock (Petrus)” and would give Peter the authority to bind and loose on earth. Peter was imprisoned by Herod Agrippa in 41, but miraculously escaped. He was crucified in Rome by Nero sometime in 65.

A German priest. Peter was experiencing doubt about transubstantiation. He made a pilgrimage to Rome in 1263, praying that it would resolve his doubt. Unsuccessful, he started home on the road north, Via Cassia, stopping at Bolsena, about seventy-five miles from Rome. He celebrated his daily Mass at Santa Cristina before an eighth century altar, praying for faith. As he consecrated the Host, it bled profusely. He wrapped it in the corporal (a linen cloth on which the consecrated elements are placed). The congregation crowded around him and saw the Host bleeding. It bled on the corporal, the purificators, and onto the marble altar steps and floor. Pope Urban IV and his court were at Orvieto, twenty-five miles to the east. Peter of Prague, the clergy of Santa Cristina, and the witnesses went to Orvieto to notify the Pope of this extraordinary event.

A group of Jewish leaders with strict observance of the laws of Moses. They differed from the Sadducees, another priestly group, in that they claimed Mosaic authority while the Sadducees claimed authority of the priestly line that went back to the High Priest Zadok in the time of Solomon.

An apostle. Philip was from the same village of Bethsaida as the apostles (and brothers) Andrew and Peter. He was present at the Wedding at Cana, and was the one who told Bartholomew about Jesus.

AD 1268 – AD 1314

King of France from 1285 to 1314. In 1306 Philip expelled the Jews from France. In that same year, fearful of the Templars’ power and independence and covetous of their wealth, he began an investigation of the Templars that included charges they worshiped some sort of picture of a head (the Shroud). The Templars were suppressed, and their French property was seized by the crown.

106 BC – 48 BC

A Roman general and politician. Son-in-law of Julius Caesar. With Marcus Licinius Crassus and Caesar formed the First Triumvirate. During the Roman civil war, he was defeated by Caesar at the Battle of Pharsalus. He fled to Egypt, where he was eventually assassinated. Following Julius Caesar’s assassination, Herod supported Octavian and Antony against Brutus and Cassius, viewed by the Jews as the successors to Pompey, who had desecrated the temple by entering the Holy of Holies.

Roman governor of Judea from 26 to 36. When the Sanhedrin brought Jesus to him, Pilate did not find him to be a threat and lobbied to have him released. The Jewish leaders and the crowd in Jerusalem insisted upon death, and Pilate reluctantly ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. A few years later, Pilate sent his soldiers to attack a group of Samaritans on their way to Mount Gerizim to see sacred artifacts from Moses. He was ordered to Rome to explain his action and disappeared from the stage of history.

AD 1195 – AD 1264

Pope from 1261 to 1264. In 1263, Pope Urban IV and his court were at Orvieto, Italy, when Peter of Prague, the clergy of Santa Cristina, and witnesses to the miracle at Bolsena (transubstantiation) arrived to notify the Pope of this extraordinary event. The Pope sent the Bishop of Orvieto and two theologians, Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure, to Bolsena to take the depositions of all the witnesses and to ascertain the facts. Upon examination of the depositions, the decision was made to transfer the relics to Orvieto, the diocesan seat. The Pope and a great procession came out to meet and receive the relics and take them to the cathedral. On September 8, 1264, Urban IV proclaimed the Feast of Corpus Christi to celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and the gift of Christ’s body and blood, which are touched on but submerged in the many other events of Holy Week and Holy Thursday.


An area east of the Jordan between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. It was given to Herod Antipas after the death of Herod the Great.

An area east of the Jordan between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. It was given to Herod Antipas after the death of Herod the Great.

A city in west-central France. During the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, Geoffrey de Charny was killed while saving King John’s life. De Charny’s widow first exhibited the Shroud the following year. Its exhibition appears to have been a patriotic act done to elevate French morale in the disastrous aftermath of Poitiers.


A week-long Jewish celebration commemorating the deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, as described in Exodus. Celebrated on the 15th of Nisan (the first month of the Hebrew calendar). Jesus and the twelve apostles were sharing the Passover meal during the Last Supper.

The period of Jesus’ life from His arrival in Jerusalem to eventual crucifixion. The events during that span include the entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, the outburst at the Temple, the Last Supper, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal by Judas, the arrest by the Sanhedrin, Peter’s denial, the trial before Pontius Pilate, the mocking by Herod Antipas, the scourging at the pillar, the crowning of thorns, the taking up of the cross, and the crucifixion.



A devout Saxon woman to whom Mary appeared to in a dream in 1061 at Walsingham, County Norfolk, in East Anglia, England. In the dream, Mary told her to build a chapel the size of the house of the Incarnation and to dedicate it to the Incarnation. The dimensions were about 23’ by 12’. The dimensions would conform well to a small house in a Galilean village—specifically, the home of Anne and Mary, where the Annunciation occurred. Richeldis is credited with establishing the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.


A city in northern Italy. The Arian Baptistry in Ravenna originally sought to emphasize Jesus’ lack of divinity. After the discovery of the Holy Image in Edessa, the manner of portraying Jesus changed almost overnight. St. Apollinaris Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy, is typical. On one side of the nave is a mosaic procession in which Jesus appears as a clean-shaven young Greek or Roman; on the other side, modified after liberation of Ravenna from the foreign Arian Ostrogoths by the Roman Emperor in Constantinople in 540, Jesus is portrayed as the man on the Shroud.

The capital of Italy, located in the central-western section of the country along the Tiber River. The heart of the Roman Empire, today Rome includes within its boundaries the independent Vatican City, home to the pope (in biblical times, the Bishop of Rome, although that title is still given to the pope today). Paul wrote a letter to the Romans explaining Christianity. Both Paul and Peter were executed in Rome.


The rising of Jesus from the dead, on the third day following the Crucifixion. The chief priests and Pharisees had asked Pontius Pilate to have Jesus’s tomb guarded in fear that his apostles would steal his body and then tell the people he had risen. A guard was posted, but when Jesus’ disciples returned, the tomb was empty. Mark’s gospel states that Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Christ. Jesus’ mother, Mary, did not go to the tomb with the other women, because, according to tradition, Jesus had already appeared to her. The apostle John saw the image of Christ left on the burial linen in the tomb. The Resurrection forms the cornerstone of the Christian faith, and is celebrated each year at Easter.



A French Knight Templar who testified that during his initiation in France in 1287, he was shown a long linen cloth with the figure of a man on it, and that he kissed the image of the man’s feet three times.

An aristocratic group of Jewish leaders charged with maintaining the Temple in Jerusalem. They differed from the Pharisees, another priestly group, in that they claimed authority of the priestly line that went back to the High Priest Zadok in the time of Solomon, while the Pharisees claimed Mosaic authority.

AD 1303 – AD 1373

A mystic from Sweden. Founder of the Order of the Most Holy Savior (Bridgettine Order). At the age of ten, she had a vision of Jesus on the cross, a vision of the Nativity of Jesus, and a vision in which the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her and told her that she had been buried in the tomb in Jerusalem and had been assumed from it.

AD 35 – c. AD 108

Disciple of the apostle John. Bishop of Antioch.  In his Letter to the Church at Smyrna, written in 107 as he was on his way to Rome to be executed, St. Ignatius wrote about the subject of transubstantiation, saying the heterodox abstain from the Eucharist because they do not confess that it is the flesh of Jesus.

An early Christian apologist. Founder of his own school; teacher of the Christian writer Tatian. Justin was born in Samaria and is best known for his text First Apology.  He was denounced by the Crescens the Cynic, who was hostile to Christians, and beheaded about 150.

Most likely the daughter of Mary and Alpheus; possibly the daughter of Mary and Cleophas; wife of Zebedee; mother of James and John. A disciple who traveled with Jesus. Salome accompanied Mary, mother of Jesus, and Mary, wife of Cleophas, to Jesus’ tomb.

Daughter of Philip, son of Herod the Great, and Herodias. She danced for Herod Antipas, her step-father, who was so pleased that he told her she could have anything she wanted. Encouraged by her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist.

People from the land of Samaria in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  Pontius Pilate ordered the massacre of Samaritans at Mount Gerizim a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion.

The supreme religious council or judicial body in Jerusalem. After Jesus was arrested he was brought before the Sanhedrin, who condemned him for claiming divinity.

A righteous and devout man who had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. He met Joseph and Mary, carrying the baby Jesus, at the Nicanor Gate in the Temple. Simeon, foretold Jesus’ mission to the Gentiles and his mistreatment by the Jews, causing Mary great sorrow.

A disciple. Son of Cleophas and Mary; cousin of Jesus. Tradition says that Simon became Bishop of Jerusalem after the martyrdom of James.

A Libyan who was in Jerusalem during Jesus’s trials. He was compelled by a Roman centurion to carry Jesus’ cross. There was something about his contact with Jesus that caused him to believe the later claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. Simon remained in Jerusalem, and his sons, Alexander and Rufus, were devout members of the church in Jerusalem.

An apostle originally from Cana. It is likely that Simon was a guest at the wedding at Cana and was drawn to Jesus by the miracle that occurred there (the turning of water into wine).

The first Christian martyr. Chosen by the apostles to give food and aid to the poor. Falsely accused of blasphemy against Moses and God, he was put on trial by the Sanhedrin, who became infuriated by his statement that God did not dwell in one building (that is, the Temple). The Jewish leaders dragged him outside to be stoned to death.  Saul of Tarsas (later, Paul) held their cloaks approvingly while they stoned Stephen.


Located to the east of Galilee, the Sea of Galilee is actually a freshwater lake 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. Its main source if the Jordan River, which flows through it. Luke called it the Lake of Gennesaret. Jesus recruited many disciples from the shore of the Sea of Galilee, including Simon, Andrew, John, and James. It was the site of Jesus walking on water, calming a storm when he and the apostles were crossing the water, and where he appeared after the crucifixion, providing the apostles with a huge catch of fish. Nearby is Et Tabgha, where Jesus fed the five thousand, and a hillside over the lake where the Sermon on the Mount was said to have taken place.

A province north of Judea and south of Galilee where Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal are located. Shechem was its major city. Although Jews and Samaritans did not get along, Jesus traveled through the land, one time stopping to teach a Samaritan woman at a well about “living water.” Jesus also told a parable about a Good Samaritan.

The largest city in Galilee, four miles northwest of Nazareth; capitol of Galilee until 18, when Herod Antipas built a new city, Tiberias, and moved his capital to it. During Jesus’ entire youth Herod Antipas conducted a succession of major building programs at Sepphoris, including palaces, theaters, and baths. It was the market center for the area and undoubtedly was the market at which Joseph, and later Jesus, purchased tools, materials, and supplies. It was possibly the home of Anne’s family.

The shroud in which Jesus was placed in the tomb.  At the instant of Resurrection, his figure was imprinted upon it.  It has been traced from Jerusalem to Edessa to Constantinople to Athens to France and, now,  to Turin, Italy. It is now owned by the Pope.

The Sudarium—the napkin covering Jesus’s face after the Crucifixion, surfaced in Jerusalem at some time after Constantine’s mother, Helena, made a pilgrimage there in the early fourth century. When the Persians threatened Jerusalem in the seventh century, it was moved to Alexandria, Egypt, where it was venerated as the napkin containing Jesus’ blood. When the Persians threatened the conquest of Egypt, it was sent to Toledo, Spain, for safekeeping. As the Moslem conquest of Spain proceeded, the Sudarium was sent north to relative safety. It has been kept at Oviedo Cathedral in northwestern Spain since 761. The chest containing the Sudarium and other relics was opened in the presence of King Alfonso VI in 1075.



Daughter-in-law of Judah, fourth son of Jacob. Angered that Judah would not agree to a marriage with Shelah, her dead husband’s younger brother, Tamar disguised herself and propositioned Judah. When he later saw her pregnant, he ordered her executed. However, she presented the payment she had been given by him for their night of passion. She lived and later gave birth to twin sons.

The person to whom Luke addressed in the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles.

An apostle. Thomas did not believe the other disciples when they told him Jesus had risen from the dead. Eight days later, during Jesus’ second post-resurrection appearance to the apostles in the upper room, Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28) Thomas was the first person publicly to state this conclusion. Jesus was not only the Messiah; He was divine.

42 BC – AD 37

Roman general; emperor from 14 to 37. Adopted son of the Augustus (Octavian). Tiberius ruled during the last half of Jesus’ life. He was succeeded by Caligula.

Companion and disciple of Paul. First bishop of Ephesus. Born in Asia Minor, Timothy met Paul during the latter’s second missionary journey with Silas. Paul invited him to join him and over time became his most trusted associate. It was to Timothy that Paul wrote when he was facing execution. Years later Timothy was stoned to death.


A city in northwestern Italy. The Shroud of Turin, the linen burial shroud of Jesus now owned by the Pope, is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin.

A city in central Spain. The Sudarium surfaced in Jerusalem after Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the early fourth century. When the Persians threatened Jerusalem in the seventh century, it was moved to Alexandria, Egypt; when the Persians threatened the conquest of Egypt, it was sent to Toledo, Spain, for safekeeping. Its arrival and presence in Toledo in the seventh century is of historical record.

Located in northern Greece, Thessalonika was an important Christian center. Paul visited the city on his second missionary journey, and later wrote two letters to the new church that had been established there.


The appearance of Jesus in celestial glory, with Moses and the prophet Elijah, and witnessed by the apostles selected Peter, James, and John. A bright cloud overshadowed the disciples a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The Transfiguration is traditionally believed to have occurred on Mount Tabor, which is located six miles from Nazareth in Galilee. Soon after the event, Jesus headed to Jerusalem, where he would be tried and executed. The Transfiguration reaffirms that Jesus is the Son of God, exalting Him, and foreshadows His future glory. The Feast of the Transfiguration is celebrated each year on August 6.



An ancient city in Mesopotamia located on the banks of the Euphrates River in what is now modern-day Iraq. Abraham, the father of Israel, was born in Ur, which was a busy cultural center in its time. Abraham’s father, Terah, moved the family to Canaan.



Tradition asserts that she cleaned Jesus’ face with a cloth as he carried his cross.  The tradition that his face appeared on the cloth is probably a conflation with the Shroud of Turin, which was long folded to show only Jesus’ face.



A town located in County Norfolk in East Anglia, England. In 1061, a Saxon lady from Walsingham, Richeldis, had a dream in which Mary appeared and told her to build a chapel the size of the house of the Incarnation and to dedicate it to the Incarnation.



A Galilean. Husband of Salome; father of John and James the Greater. Zebedee managed his fishing partnership with Andrew, Peter, James, and John while they were away with Jesus to support Jesus’ ministry.

Husband of Elizabeth; father of John the Baptist. A priest of the division of Abijah. Zechariah and Elizabeth lived in Ain Karem, about five miles north of Jerusalem. While performing his priestly duties one day he was visited by the angel Gabriel, who told him his wife would bear him a son and he was to name him John. Zechariah did not believe Gabriel, who then rendered him mute until  Gabriel’s words had come to pass. Zechariah did not speak again until the birth of his son. Whom he did indeed name John.