E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
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 pilgrims staff, or a gourd bottle, because he is the patron saint of pilgrims. (See SCALLOP-SHELL.)
James the Less, a fullers 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 Aristodemos, 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 Nadabar 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 Meliapour, with a lance.