Wikipedia says:

In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle.
cf. Pope | Wikipedia

As someone who isn't Catholic I don't want to argue how true this is or how significant this is.

What I'm interested to know is there an office/title/person in the Catholic church for any of the other 11 Apostles (12 if you include Paul), or is it just Saint Peter because he was the leader of the apostles?

3 Answers 3


The other apostles are associated with other Churches. St Mark, for example, was the founder of the Church of Alexandria; St Thomas is believed to have taken Christianity to India; and so on. Only St John the Evangelist did not die a martyr in a far-off place (at least, Patmos isn't as far as India).

Accordingly, most of the other apostles do not have such a place as Peter's within the Roman Church, but they do have a similar position as Patriarchs of the Churches they founded.

  • Is Patriarch an office that is passed to someone else like the Pope, or is it just someone the church remembers as their founder?
    – Greg
    Jan 3, 2013 at 23:11
  • Yes: a Patriarch is the head of a major part of the Catholic/Orthodox Church. The Coptic Pope is a Patriarch; there are Patriarchs in the East (and the Ecumenical Patriarch) and the Pope is the Patriarch of the Western Church, even if he doesn't call himself that at the moment. Jan 3, 2013 at 23:14
  • I think the notion that the other apostles don't hold a position of importance in the Catholic Church is not accurate. Apostolic succession is about all of the apostles. Which of the 12 is the head is another matter. So is the possibility that local churches answered to their local bishops before or instead of the bishop of Rome.
    – svidgen
    Jan 4, 2013 at 0:47
  • @svidgen Actually, apostolic succession means something completely different, as you have detailed in your answer. The question isn't about apostolic succession; it's "What about the other apostles -- Peter is Pope, where are the others?" The question title may have to be adjusted to remove the technical term. Jan 4, 2013 at 9:10
  • @Andrew Yes, he's conflating concepts. All I mean to point out in your answer is that it gives the impression that the Catholic (and possibly Orthodox) Church isn't concerned with the other apostles, which is not accurate, though we don't hold a single specific office for each of the 12.
    – svidgen
    Jan 4, 2013 at 14:02

Apostolic succession applies to all successors of the original 12 apostles. Every modern day bishop and priest (including the Pope) has been ordained by Bishops, creating an unbroken lineage all the way back to the original 12.

This wikipedia section has it right, as far as I've read.

In Roman Catholic theology, the doctrine of apostolic succession states that Christ gave the full sacramental authority of the Church to the Twelve Apostles in the sacrament of Holy Orders, making them the first bishops. By conferring the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders on the apostles, they were given the authority to confer the sacrament of Holy Orders on others, thus consecrating more bishops in a direct lineage that can trace its origin back to the Twelve Apostles and Christ. This direct succession of bishops from the apostles to the present day bishops is referred to as apostolic succession.

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_succession#Catholic_Church

And as it states, Papal Primacy, which is what you're hinting at, is a different but related matter.

The primacy of the Bishop of Rome is an ecclesiastical doctrine concerning the respect and authority that is due to the Bishop of Rome from other bishops and their sees.

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_primacy

  • I see a lot of discussion of the original 12 apostles, and about popes, patriarchs, and bishops, but nothing addressing the OP's question: whether there is an office/title/person in the currently existing [roman] Catholic Church who is an apostle, and if so, whether there are 12 of them, as there were original apostles? Jan 14, 2015 at 8:48

The questioner asked if there is an office or title of "apostle" in the Catholic Church, and seemed to want to know whether there are 12 of them, as in the primitive church. To my knowledge, neither the Catholic, Jewish, nor Protestant traditions recognize the calling/office of "apostle".
See also this related answer re hierarchy of order and hierarchy of jurisdiction in CC

What are the positions relative to each other in the Catholic church's clerical hierarchy?

I know of only one sect that does recognize the office or title of "apostle", and has 12 men currently holding that title. But it's not the Catholic Church.

  • 1
    Oh, jee...hmm...must be the Mormons.
    – user900
    Jan 15, 2015 at 8:07
  • 1
    I wasn't asking if there was an office of "apostle". The quote from Wikipedia says that the Pope is the successor from Peter - the apostle whom the church is built on. Do any other apostles have a successor (someone to replace them) or is it just Peter?
    – Greg
    Jan 15, 2015 at 23:40
  • @greg: It's not a question of individual succesors to each of the original Apostles. It's a question of whether they were able to sustain a "quorum" of Apostles. Paul, for example, was ordained an Apostle by the existing Apostles, by the laying on of hands by those who had the authority to bestow this office. However, within less than a century after Christ's death and resurrection, this was no longer possible because the existing apostles scattered and were killed; thus they were not able to name successors; there was no quorum to approve any successors. Jan 16, 2015 at 6:53
  • @greg: My understanding is that the Catholic Church considered Peter to be the "bishop of Rome". This in itself does not sound like a claim to Apostolic succession. Peter by himself could not re-constitute a quorum of Apostles; or, if he could, there is no evidence that he did. If he had, and the Catholic Church descended directly from Peter, as they claim, they would still have 12 Apostles today. Jan 16, 2015 at 6:55
  • @BrianHitchcock again I point you back to the quote in my question. The pope is regarded as the successor of Peter. Do ant other apostles have the same succession?
    – Greg
    Jan 16, 2015 at 10:44

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