Saints

St. Bartholomew the Apostle

All that is known of him with certainty is that he is mentioned in the synoptic gospels and Acts as one of the twelve apostles. His name, a patronymic, means “son of Tolomai” and scholars believe he is the same as Nathanael mentioned in John, who says he is from Cana and that Jesus called him an “Israelite…incapable of deceit.” The Roman Martyrology says he preached in India and Greater Armenia, where he was flayed and beheaded by King Astyages. Tradition has the place as Abanopolis on the west coast of the Caspian Sea and that he also preached in Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt. The Gospel of Bartholomew is apochryphal and was condemned in the decree of Pseudo-Gelasius. Feast Day August 24.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Catholic Online

St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist

The Feast of St. John the Baptist, celebrated June 24

“The New Testament tells us nothing of John’s early years, but we know that his pious, virtuous parents must have reared the boy with care, conscious always of the important work to which he was appointed, and imbuing him with a sense of his destiny.

When John began final preparations for his mission, he was probably in his thirty-second year. He withdrew into the harsh, rocky desert beyond the Jordan to fast and pray, as was the ancient custom of holy men. We are told that he kept himself alive by eating locusts and wild honey and wore a rough garment of camel’s hair, tied with a leathern girdle. When he came back to start preaching in the villages of Judaea, he was haggard and uncouth, but his eyes burned with zeal and his voice carried deep conviction. The Jews were accustomed to preachers and prophets who gave no thought to outward appearances, and they accepted John at once; the times were troubled, and the people yearned for reassurance and comfort. So transcendant was the power emanating from the holy man that after hearing him many believed he was indeed the long-awaited Messiah. John quickly put them right, saying he had come only to prepare the way, and that he was not worthy to unloose the Master’s sandals. Although his preaching and baptizing continued for some months during the Saviour’s own ministry, John always made plain that he was merely the Forerunner. His humility remained incorruptible even when his fame spread to Jerusalem and members of the higher priesthood came to make inquiries and to hear him. “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,”-this was John’s oft-repeated theme. For the evils of the times his remedy was individual purification. “Every tree,” he said, “that is not bringing forth good fruit is to be cut down and thrown into the fire.” The reformation of each person’s life must be complete—the wheat must be separated from the chaff and the chaff burned “with unquenchable fire.”

The rite of baptism, a symbolic act signifying sincere repentance as well as a desire to be spiritually cleansed in order to receive the Christ, was so strongly emphasized by John that people began to call him “the baptizer.” The Scriptures tell us of the day when Jesus joined the group of those who wished to receive baptism at John’s hands. John knew Jesus for the Messiah they had so long expected, and at first excused himself as unworthy. Then, in obedience to Jesus, he acquiesced and baptized Him. Although sinless, Jesus chose to be baptized in order to identify Himself with the human lot. And when He arose from the waters of the Jordan, where the rite was performed, “the heavens opened and the Spirit as a dove descended. And there came a voice from the heavens, Thou art my beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased” (Mark i, 11).

6_24_john_baptist2

John’s life now rushes on towards its tragic end. In the fifteenth year of the reign of the Roman emperor, Tiberias Caesar, Herod Antipas was the provincial governor or tetrarch of a subdivision of Palestine which included Galilee and Peraea, a district lying east of the Jordan. In the course of John’s preaching, he had denounced in unmeasured terms the immorality of Herod’s petty court, and had even boldly upbraided Herod to his face for his defiance of old Jewish law, especially in having taken to himself the wife of his half-brother, Philip. This woman, the dissolute Herodias, was also Herod’s niece. Herod feared and reverenced John, knowing him to be a holy man, and he followed his advice in many matters; but he could not endure having his private life castigated. Herodias stimulated his anger by lies and artifices. His resentment at length got the better of his judgment and he had John cast into the fortress of Machaerus, near the Dead Sea. When Jesus heard of this, and knew that some of His disciples had gone to see John, He spoke thus of him: “What went you to see? A prophet? Yea, I say to you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say to you, amongst those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” (Matthew xi, 10-12).

Herodias never ceased plotting against the life of John, who was not silenced even by prison walls. His followers now became even more turbulent. To Herodias soon came the opportunity she had long sought to put an end to the trouble-maker. On Herod’s birthday he gave a feast for the chief men of that region. In Matthew xiv, Mark vi, and Luke ix, we are given parallel accounts of this infamous occasion which was to culminate in John’s death. At the feast, Salome, fourteen-year-old daughter of Herodias by her lawful husband, pleased Herod and his guests so much by her dancing that Herod promised on oath to give her anything that it was in his power to give, even though it should amount to half his kingdom. Salome, acting under the direction and influence of her wicked mother, answered that she wished to have the head of John the Baptist, presented to her on a platter. Such a horrible request shocked and unnerved Herod. Still, he had given his word and was afraid to break it. So, with no legal formalities whatever, he dispatched a soldier to the prison with orders to behead the prisoner and return with it immediately. This was quickly done, and the cruel girl did not hesitate to accept the dish with its dreadful offering and give it to her mother. John’s brief ministry was thus terminated by a monstrous crime. There was great sadness among the people who had hearkened to him, and when the disciples of Jesus heard the news of John’s death, they came and took the body and laid it reverently in a tomb. Jesus, with some of his disciples, retired “to a desert place apart,” to mourn.

The Jewish historian Josephus, giving further testimony of John’s holiness, writes: “He was indeed a man endued with all virtue, who exhorted the Jews to the practice of justice towards men and piety towards God; and also to baptism, preaching that they would become acceptable to God if they renounced their sins, and to the cleanness of their bodies added purity of soul.” Thus Jews and Christians unite in reverence and love for this prophet-saint whose life is an incomparable example of both humility and courage.”

[From 'Lives of the Saints']

In summing up: “St. John the Baptist was uncompromising in his attitude towards sin, condemned fearlessly his incredulous and adulterous generation, and accepted martyrdom rather than flatter or condone the vices of the rich and the mighty.” (Excerpted from commentary for the Readings in the Extraordinary Form.)

St. Philip and St. James, Apostles

Today we commemorate two of the Twelve Apostles.


The New Testament mentions at least two persons named James, probably at least three, and perhaps as many as eight. This is as good a place as any to sort them out.

(1) JAMES THE GREATER: James the son of Zebedee, called James the Greater or James Major or James the Elder, was one of the Twelve Apostles, and also, along with his brother John and with Peter, belonged to what seems to have been an inner circle of Three. He was killed by order of King Herod, as reported in Acts 12:2. (See M 4:21; 10:2; 17:1; P 1:19,29; 3:17; 5:37; 9:2; 10:35,41; 13:3; 14:33; L 5:10; 6:14; 8:51; 9:28,54; A 11:13; 12:2)

St. James Minor, from a 1708 Book of Common Prayer(2) JAMES THE LESS: James the son of Alphaeus (Alpheus) appears on lists of the Twelve Apostles (usually in the ninth place), but is never mentioned otherwise. He is called James the Less, or James Minor, or James the Younger. (See M 10:3; P 3:18; L 6:15; A 1:13)

(3) JAMES THE JUST: James called “the brother of the Lord” appears in Acts 12:17 and thereafter (A 15:13; 21:18; 1C 15:17; Ga 1:19; 2:9,12) as the leader of the Jerusalem congregation. He is counted by later Church historians as the first bishop of Jerusalem, with Simeon (described as also a kinsman, something like a great-nephew of Joseph) as the second. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, James was put to death by order of the high priest during an interval between Roman governors, over the protests of the Pharisees, who thought him an upright man. He is known as James the Just or James of Jerusalem or James Protepiscopus (first bishop).

(4) JAMES THE WRITER: One of the New Testament Epistles is written by a James. (See Jas 1:1)

(5) JAMES THE SON OF CLEOPAS:
John (19:25) lists the women standing by the cross of Jesus as “his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” If this list mentions only three women, then Mary the wife of Clopas is presumably a sister-in-law to the Virgin Mary.
The Synoptists give lists of women apparently at a distance.
Matthew (27:55f) lists as “looking on from afar” some Galilean women “among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.”
Mark (15:40f) lists “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James the Younger and of Joses, and Salome… and also many other women.”
Luke (24:10) lists “Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them.”
By “mother of James…” do the Synoptists denote the mother of Jesus? It seems odd that they would omit to mention her if she were there, but odder yet that they would identify her as the mother of James and Joseph (Joses), but not as the mother of Jesus. Besides, we note that Matthew and Mark are speaking of women who stood at a distance, while the Virgin was close enough to hear her Son speak. I therefore assume that Mary the mother of James etc is not the same as the Virgin Mary, and is either not mentioned by John at all or is identical with his “Mary the wife of Clopas,” who is probably the sister-in-law of the Virgin Mary. Conclusion: James the son of Clopas was perhaps the nephew of either Mary or Joseph, and so would have been known as the first cousin of Jesus.

(6) JAMES THE NAZARENE: The residents of Nazareth speak of brothers of Jesus, including one named James (M 4:55 = P 6:3).

(7) JAMES THE KINSMAN OF JUDE THE APOSTLE: When Luke lists the Apostles (L 6:16; A 1:13), he has, in places 9 thru 11, “James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas of James.” [This is not Judas Iscariot.] Now, “Judas of James” would ordinarily mean “Judas son of James,” and so the RSV translates it. However, the KJV renders is as “Judas the brother of James,” and some suppose him to be the brother of James the son of Alphaeus, so that we have no fewer than three pairs of brothers among the disciples: Peter and Andrew, sons of Jonas; James and John, sons of Zebedee; James and Jude, sons of Alphaeus. This seems unlikely, since (a) if Luke had intended us to understand that the two were brothers, he would have written them together instead of separating them by Simon the Zealot (but note P 3:16-18); and (b) if he had meant us to understand “brother of” rather than the more usual “son of”, he would have said “brother.”

(8) JAMES THE BROTHER OF JUDE THE WRITER: The author of the Epistle of Jude calls himself the brother of James. Presumably this James would be someone well-known to his readers, otherwise why bother to mention him?

Is any of these the same person as one or more of the others?

It is natural to suppose that James the Just (3) and James the Nazarene (6), being both called brothers of Jesus, must be the same person. However, the Hebrew word for “brother” is used more elastically than its English equivalent, often referring (for example) to cousins or even more distant relatives (see Leviticus 10:1-4, where Moses speaks to Mishael and Elphazan about their brothers, meaning the sons of their cousin). If early Christians for whom Aramaic was the primary language, and Greek secondary, retained this usage when they spoke Greek, then there is room for doubt on the point. Perhaps one of them was a cousin of Jesus rather than a brother. Perhaps both were cousins, in which case they could be the same person but need not have been.

The sons of Cleopas would have been nephews of either Joseph or Mary, and therefore may have been the “brothers” mentioned elsewhere. Thus James the son of Cleopas (5) may be identical with James the Just (3) or James the Nazarene (6) or both.

It is tempting to identify James the son of Alphaeus (2) with James the son of Cleopas (5) by supposing that “Cleopas” and “Alphaeus” are two different attempts to reproduce the same Semitic name (probably beginning with an Ayin) in Greek, but linguists mostly think this very doubtful. James son of Cleopas is called James the Less (Minor, Younger) in Mark 15:40, and James Son of Alphaeus is also called James the Less in popular usage, partly because the two are assumed to be the same, and partly because of the need to distinguish the two Apostles both named James.

The Epistle of James is addressed to Jewish readers, and James the Just (3) seems to have been particularly concerned with the Jewish Christian community. It is accordingly plausible, and customary, to identify James the Just (3) with James the Writer (4).

Many writers identify James the Less (2) with James the Just (3). A difficulty with that identification is that we are told that the brothers of Jesus did not believe in him (J 7:5), which would mean that they could not have been numbered among the Twelve. (It is commonly supposed that James (3) came to believe only after the Resurrection (1C 15:7).) On the other hand, John does not name the unbelieving brothers, and they may not have included James.

It is tempting to suppose that a pair of brothers named James and Jude are the same as another pair of brothers named James and Jude, if there is no obvious objection to identifying them. (This is not necessarily a valid inference, since the selection of names can be influenced by fashion. I have no difficulty, for example, in thinking of six families I know with brothers named David and Michael.) Accordingly, it has been customary to identify the two Apostles “James the son of Alphaeus” and “Judas (the brother) of James” with the two brothers mentioned in the Nazareth account, and also with the Jude who wrote the Epistle and his brother James, taken to be the same James who wrote the Epistle of James. On our list, this identifies James the Less (2), James the Nazarene (6), James the Kinsman of Jude the Apostle (7), and James the Brother of Jude the Writer (8), and probably James the Son of Cleopas (5). However, it should be noted that the most natural understanding of “Judas of James” is “Judas son of James,” and that there is therefore no reason to suppose that James the son of Alphaeus has a brother named Jude.

Currently, most Western Christians commemorate:
(1) James the Greater on 25 July,
(2) James the Less on 1 May, and
(3) James the Just on 25 October.

They identify the others with (3) or ignore them. It will be generally conceded concerning (5), (6), (7), and (8) that if they are not the same as one of the others then there is no reason to remember them, so that the most one could reasonably do is add a fourth date for James the Writer. However, it is standard (and, I think, reasonable) to identify (4) with (3), and that leaves three commemorations, which is the current standard in the West, and also (I think) in the East. (Formerly the West identified (2) and (3).)

Thus, of James the Less, the son of Alphaeus (2), whom we commemorate today, we know very little from the New Testament, except that his name appears on lists of the Twelve.

Why is the name “James” so popular among Jews in New Testament times? Because it is the name of the ancestor of the people of Israel. The English name “James” is a variant of the name “Jacob.” We tend to think of them as two separate, unrelated names. But the distinction between them is post-Biblical and not found in Hebrew or Greek. In Hebrew, the name is Ya’akov. In Greek, it is Iakwbos (W=Omega), with accent on the second syllable from the end. In Latin, it developed two forms, Jacobus and Jacomus, both accented on the first syllable. From the former, we have the English Jacob and the Spanish Diego and Iago. From the latter, we have the English James, the Scottish Hamish, the Spanish Jaime, and so on. But in many languages, there is only one name, given to the Old Testament Jacob and the New Testament James alike. Even in English, our present distinction has not always been observed. In Shakespeare’s play MEASURE FOR MEASURE (III,ii,204), a child’s age is given as “a year and a quarter old, come Philip and Jacob,” meaning, “a year and a quarter old on the first of next May, the feast of Philip and James.”


St. Philip, from a 1708 Book of Common PrayerPhilip the Apostle is frequently confused with Philip the Deacon, whom we read of in the Book of Acts (A 6:7; 8:5-40; 21:8f), and who is commemorated on 6 June. For arguments that they are in fact the same, see that BIO.

Philip the Apostle appears in the Synoptic Gospels and in Acts only as a name on the list of the Twelve, but he appears in several incidents in the Gospel according to John. He was called early in the ministry of Our Lord (J 1:44), and promptly brought his friend Nathanael to Jesus as well. When some Greeks (or Greek-speaking Jews) wished to speak with Jesus, they began by approaching Philip (J 12:20ff).
At the Last Supper (J 14:8f), he said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” To this Jesus answered, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Before feeding the Five Thousand (J 6:5), Jesus turned to Philip and asked him, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” Philip answered, “It would take more than a year’s wages to buy each of them a mouthful.”

Some scholars have thought it significant that Jesus asked Philip rather than one of the others. Luke (9:10) tells us that the Feeding of the Five Thousand took place near Bethsaida, and John (1:44) tells us that Philip is from Bethsaida. If they were in Philip’s home neighborhood, he would be a natural one to ask for directions. (Peter and Andrew were also from Bethsaida, but seem to have moved to Capernaum.) It seems that John named Philip here for one of three reasons:
(1) He was making up the details, and he said to himself: “I will name Philip here, and hope that my readers have read Luke and will remember that this is all happening near Bethsaida, and I will point out at the beginning of my work that Philip is from Bethsaida, and I will hope that the readers are clever enough to put this together and see that Philip is a logical person to ask. But I won’t mention Bethsaida in this episode, since that would make it too obvious what I am doing.”
(2) He chose one of the disciples at random, and by good luck made an appropriate choice.
(3) He was an eyewitness, or for some other reason well informed, and mentioned Philip by name because that was whom Jesus asked.

This is one reason (not the only one) for regarding the Gospel of John as the testimony of an eyewitness. For an elaboration, . . . look for essays with those names on this Web Page,

But I digress. That is the limit of what we hear of Philip and James in the New Testament, nor do other sources help much. One story says that Philip preached in Phrygia and died in Hierapolis, and that his remains were brought to Rome and buried in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles (an ancient inscription shows that this church was formerly dedicated to Philip and James).

by James Kiefer

St. Mark the Evangelist

St. Mark the EvangelistThe second Gospel was written by St. Mark, who, in the New Testament, is sometimes called John Mark. Both he and his mother, Mary, were highly esteemed in the early Church, and his mother’s house in Jerusalem served as a meeting place for Christians there.

St. Mark was associated with St. Paul and St. Barnabas (who was Mark’s cousin) on their missionary journey through the island of Cyprus. Later he accompanied St. Barnabas alone. We know also that he was in Rome with St. Peter and St. Paul. Tradition ascribes to him the founding of the Church in Alexandria.

St. Mark wrote the second Gospel, probably in Rome sometime before the year 60 A.D.; he wrote it in Greek for the Gentile converts to Christianity. Tradition tells us that St. Mark was requested by the Romans to set down the teachings of St. Peter. This seems to be confirmed by the position which St. Peter has in this Gospel. In this way the second Gospel is a record of the life ofJesus as seen throuhh the eyes of the Prince of the Apostles. Hisfeast day is April 25. He is the patron saint of notaries.

Evidence for Mark the Evangelist’s authorship of the Gospel that bears his name originates with Papias.[13][14] According to D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo and Leon Morris, it is “almost certain” that Papias is referring to John Mark.[15] However, some have argued that identifying Mark the Evangelist with John Mark and Mark the Cousin of Barnabas has led to the downgrading of the character of Barnabas from truly a “Son of Comfort” to one who favored his blood relative over principles.[16]

The identification of Mark the Evangelist with John Mark led to identifying him as the man who carried water to the house where the Last Supper took place (Mark 14:13).;[17] or as the young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52).[18]

The martyrdom of Saint Mark. Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (Musée Condé,Chantilly).

The Coptic Church holds the tradition of identifying Mark the Evangelist with John Mark, and holds that he was one of the Seventy Disciples sent out by Christ (Luke 10:1), as is confirmed by the list ofHippolytus.[19] It also believes that Mark the Evangelist is the one who hosted the disciples in his house after the death of Jesus, into whose house the resurrected Jesus Christ came (John 20), and into whose house the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost.[19]

Mark is also believed to be one of the servants at the Marriage at Cana who poured out the water that Jesus turned to wine (John 2:1-11),[19] These traditions have no solid proof either from the New Testament or from Church history.

According to the Coptic church, Saint Mark was born in Cyrene, a city in thePentapolis of North Africa (now Libya). This tradition adds that he returned to Pentapolis later in life, after being sent by Saint Paul to Colossae(Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24; these actually refer to Mark the Cousin of Barnabas), and serving with him in Rome (2 Tim 4:11); from Pentapolis he made his way to Alexandria.[20][21] When Mark returned to Alexandria, the pagans of the city resented his efforts to turn the Alexandrians away from the worship of their traditional gods.[citation needed] In AD 68 they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was dead.[22]

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates his feast day on April 25.

from Catholic Online

Saint Patrick – March 17

Patrick grew up on his father’s farm by the sea in either Wales, Ireland or Scotland.  In 404, at age 16, Patrick was kidnapped by pirates and sold to an islander where he herded sheep for 6 years before he escaped and returned home.

Patrick had a vision of evangelizing Ireland which still worshipped idols.  He went to the monks at Lerins Abbey and the school of bishops at Auxerre, both in France, from 415-432 and became a deacon, then a bishop.

The Romans had recently left Ireland and it was ruled by many kings, the heads of the clans.  They ruled absolutely over their lands and their people. Thus the people had the faith of their rulers.  Patrick’s story is one of converting these kings, one by one.

Patrick died about 461.  Many legends grew up around St. Patrick which expresses the extent to which the Irish venerate the man who made them Christian.

From:  Lives of the Saints by Omer Englebert

St. Matthias the Apostle

St. Matthias the Apostle
St. Matthias the Apostle

Matthias was one of the first to follow our Savior; and he was an eye-witness of all His divine actions up to the very day of the Ascension. He was one of the seventy-two disciples; but our Lord had not conferred upon him the dignity of an apostle. And yet, he was to have this great glory, for it was of him that David spoke, when he prophesied that another should take the bishopric left vacant by the apostasy of Judas the traitor. In the interval between Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Ghost, the apostolic college had to complete the mystic number fixed by our Lord Himself, so that there might be the twelve on that solemn day, when the Church, filled with the Holy Ghost, was to manifest herself to the Synagogue. The lot fell on Mathias; he shared with his brother-apostles the persecution in Jerusalem, and, when the time came for the ambassadors of Christ to separate, he set out for the countries allotted to him. Tradition tells us that these were Cappadocia and the provinces bordering on the Caspian Sea.

The virtues, labor, and sufferings of St. Mathias have not been handed down to us: this explains the lack of proper lessons on his life, such as we have for the feasts of the rest of the apostles. Clement of Alexandria records in his writings several sayings of our holy apostle. One of these is so very appropriate to the spirit of the present season, that we consider it a duty to quote it. ‘It behooves us to combat the flesh, and make use of it, without pampering it by unlawful gratifications. As to the soul, we must develop her power by faith and knowledge.’ How profound is the teaching contained in these few words! Sin has deranged the order which the Creator had established. It gave the outward man such a tendency to grovel in things which degrade him, that the only means left us for the restoration of the image and likeness of God unto which we were created, is the forcible subjection of the body to the spirit. But the spirit itself, that is, the soul, was also impaired by original sin, and her inclinations were made prone to evil; what is to be her protection? Faith and knowledge. Faith humbles her, and then exalts and rewards her; and the reward is knowledge.

— Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

ST. VALENTINE, February 14

St.ValentneStories of two different saints named Valentine go back to the 200s.

The first Valentine was a Roman priest, arrested under Claudius the Goth.  Valentine openly confessed his Christian faith before the Emperor and when questioned about the Roman gods, Jupiter and Mercury said they were contemptible and shameless characters.  Valentine was committed to the care of a magistrate.  This man had a daughter who was blind.  Valentine cured her and converted the entire family.  When the Emperor heard this, he had Valentine decapitated.  In the 4th c. Pope Julius built a church in honor of this martyr

The second St. Valentine is thought to have been the Bishop of Terni in Umbria and had a reputation for performing miracles.  The philosopher, Crato, had a son with an incurable malady and he sent for Valentine.  Valentine said he would heal the son if the family would convert.  It was agreed and both kept their side of the bargain.  When the local prefect heard of this, he had this Valentine beheaded and sent home.  St. Valentine is still patron saint of Terni.

In the middle ages, it was believed birds began to pair on February 14.  From this came the custom of sending “valentines”.

 

Source:  Lives of the Saints, by Omer Englebert

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist


St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Feast day – December 27th)

St. John, the son of Zebedee, and the brother of St. James the Great, was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His public ministry. He became the “beloved disciple” and the only one of the Twelve who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion. He stood faithfully at the cross when the Savior made him the guardian of His Mother. His later life was passed chiefly in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. He founded many churches in Asia Minor. He wrote the fourth Gospel, and three Epistles, and the Book of Revelation is also attributed to him. Brought to Rome, tradition relates that he was by order of Emperor Dometian cast into a cauldron of boiling oil but came forth unhurt and was banished to the island of Pathmos for a year. He lived to an extreme old age, surviving all his fellow apostles, and died at Ephesus about the year 100.

St. John is called the Apostle of Charity, a virtue he had learned from his Divine Master, and which he constantly inculcated by word and example. The “beloved disciple” died at Ephesus, where a stately church was erected over his tomb. It was afterwards converted into a Mohammedan mosque.

John is credited with the authorship of three epistles and one Gospel, although many scholars believe that the final editing of the Gospel was done by others shortly after his death. He is also supposed by many to be the author of the book of Revelation, also called the Apocalypse, although this identification is less certain.

 

From Catholic Online

St. Stephen Deacon and Martyr

St.Stephen

St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr

Today is the second day in the octave of Christmas. The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Stoned outside Jerusalem, he died praying for his executioners. He was one of the seven deacons who helped the apostles; he was “filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit,” and was “full of fortitude.” The Church draws a comparison between the disciple and his Master, emphasizing the imitation of Christ even unto the complete gift of self. His name is included in the Roman Canon.

The deacon Stephen, stoned in Jerusalem two years after the death of Christ, has always been the object of very special veneration by the faithful. He is the first martyr. The account in the Acts of the Apostles relating his arrest and the accusations brought against him emphasize the parallel with our Saviour’s trial; he was stoned outside the city wall and died, like his Master, praying for his executioners.

Stephen belongs to the group of seven deacons whom the Apostles associated with their work in order to lighten their load. He was “filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit,” “full of grace and strength” he showed himself as a man of God, radiating divine grace and apostolic zeal. As the first witness to Christ he confronted his opponents with quiet courage and the promise made by Jesus (Mark 13.11) was fulfilled: “. . .Disputing with Stephen they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke.”

In St. Stephen, the first martyr, the liturgy emphasizes the imitator of Christ even to the extent of the complete gift of self, to the extent of that great charity which made him pray in his suffering for his executioners. By establishing the feast on the day after Christmas the Church draws an even closer comparison between the disciple and the Master and thus extends his witness to the whole mission of the redeeming Messiah.

Professing the Christian Faith Demands the Heroism of the Martyrs
On the day after the solemnity of Christmas, we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen. At first glance, to join the memory of the “protomartyr” and the birth of the Redeemer might seem surprising because of the contrast between the peace and joy of Bethlehem and the tragedy of St. Stephen, stoned in Jerusalem during the first persecution against the nascent Church.

St. Stephen was the first to follow in the steps of Christ with martyrdom: like the divine Master, he died forgiving and praying for his executioners (cf. Acts 7:60). During the first four centuries of Christianity all the saints venerated by the Church were martyrs.

They are a countless multitude, which the liturgy calls “the white army of martyrs,” (martyrum candidatus exercitus). Their death was not a reason for fear and sadness, but of spiritual enthusiasm, which always gave rise to new Christians. For believers, the day of death, and even more so, the day of martyrdom, is not the end of everything, but rather the “passage” to immortal life, it is the day of the final birth, the “dies natalis.” Thus is understood the link that exists between the “dies natalis” of Christ and the “dies natalis” of St. Stephen. If Jesus had not been born on earth, men would not have been able to be born for heaven. Precisely because Christ was born, we are able to be “reborn.”

Also Mary, who took the Redeemer in her arms in Bethlehem, suffered an interior martyrdom. She shared His Passion and had to take Him, once again, in her arms when they took Him down from the cross. To this Mother, who felt the joy of the birth and the anguish of the death of her divine Son, we entrust those who are persecuted and those who are suffering, in different ways, for witnessing and serving the Gospel.

from CatholicCulture.org

 

The Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle

St.Thomas the ApostleLittle is recorded of St. Thomas the Apostle, nevertheless thanks to the fourth Gospel his personality is clearer to us than that of some others of the Twelve. His name occurs in all the lists of the Synoptists (Matthew 10:3Mark 3:18Luke 6, cf. Acts 1:13), but in St. John he plays a distinctive part. First, when Jesus announced His intention of returning to Judea to visitLazarus, “Thomas” who is called Didymus [the twin], said to his fellow disciples: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Again it was St. Thomas who during the discourse before the Last Supper raised an objection: “Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). But more especially St. Thomas is remembered for his incredulity when the other Apostles announced Christ’s Resurrection to him: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25); but eight days later he made his act of faith, drawing down the rebuke of Jesus: “Because thou hast seen me,Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed” (John 20:29).

This exhausts all our certain knowledge regarding the Apostle but his name is the starting point of a considerable apocryphalliterature, and there are also certain historical data which suggest that some of this apocryphal material may contains germs of truth. The principal document concerning him is the “Acta Thomae”, preserved to us with some variations both in Greek and in Syriac, and bearing unmistakeable signs of its Gnostic origin. It may indeed be the work of Bardesanes himself. The story in many of its particulars is utterly extravagant, but it is the early date, being assigned by Harnack (Chronologie, ii, 172) to the beginning of the third century, before A.D. 220. If the place of its origin is really Edessa, as Harnack and others for sound reasons supposed (ibid., p. 176), this would lend considerable probability to the statement, explicitly made in “Acta” (Bonnet, cap. 170, p. 286), that the relics of Apostle Thomas, which we know to have been venerated at Edessa, had really come from the East. The extravagance of the legend may be judged from the fact that in more than one place (cap. 31, p. 148) it represents Thomas (Judas Thomas, as he is called here and elsewhere in Syriac tradition) as the twin brother of Jesus. TheThomas in Syriac is equivalant to didymos in Greek, and means twin. Rendel Harris who exaggerates very much the cult of theDioscuri, wishes to regards this as a transformation of a pagan worship of Edessa but the point is at best problematical. The story itself runs briefly as follows: At the division of the Apostles, India fell to the lot of Thomas, but he declared his inability to go, whereupon his Master Jesus appeared in a supernatural way to Abban, the envoy of Gundafor, an Indian king, and soldThomas to him to be his slave and serve Gundafor as a carpenter. Then Abban and Thomas sailed away until they came to Andrapolis, where they landed and attended the marriage feast of the ruler’s daughter. Strange occurrences followed andChrist under the appearance of Thomas exhorted the bride to remain a Virgin. Coming to India Thomas undertook to build a palace for Gundafor, but spend the money entrusted to him on the poor. Gundafor imprisoned him; but the Apostle escapedmiraculously and Gundafor was converted. Going about the country to preach, Thomas met with strange adventures from dragons and wild asses. Then he came to the city of King Misdai (Syriac Mazdai), where he converted Tertia the wife of Misdaiand Vazan his son. After this he was condemed to death, led out of city to a hill, and pierced through with spears by four soldiers. He was buried in the tomb of the ancient kings but his remains were afterwards removed to the West.