Art Institute of Chicago

The Beloved Disciple rests his head on Jesus’ bosom, on this embroidered and gem-encrusted altar-hanging made in Spain in the 16th century. Christian tradition identifies the disciple who reclined beside Jesus at the Last Supper (John 13:23) as the evangelist John. (The tradition is based on the assumption that the beloved disciple and the eyewitness who claims to be responsible for the gospel account, both of whom are present at Jesus’ crucifixion [John 19:26, 35], are actually the same man.) The third-century church father Origen explained the differences between John’s gospel and the Synoptics by stating that John was able to write the truest gospel because he had rested on Jesus’ heart.