Saint of the week

St Matthias, 14th May

St Matthias was the Apostle who replaced Judas Iscariot.

The first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles tells us that had been a disciple of Our Lord since His Baptism in the Jordan by St John the Baptist until His Ascension.

Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius and St Jerome also asserted the tradition that Matthias was one of the 72 disciples sent out in pairs by Our Lord.

St Matthias was one of two candidates proposed to replace Judas and the 11 Apostles drew lots to select him over Joseph “known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus”, as the most worthy.

He received the gift of the Holy Spirit together with the other Apostles in the house in Jerusalem during Pentecost.

After his election St Matthias applied himself with zeal to his mission: Clement of Alexandria speaks of his insistence of the necessity of mortifying the flesh to subdue the sensual appetites, saying this was a lesson he had learned from Our Lord and which he faithfully practised himself.

According to Butler’s Lives of the Saints, the first part of the ministry of St Matthias was spent in Judaea but he then travelled to Cappadocia (southern Turkey) and the coast of the Caspian Sea where he planted the faith.

He soon endured persecution and ill-treatment from hostile people he encountered and finally won the crown of martyrdom at Colchis.

The manner of his death is disputed. The Greek Menaia and other legendary sources claim he was crucified but there is also the tradition that he was beheaded. The latter has been incorporated into his emblem. This shows an axe superimposed over an open book with the words “super Matthiam” (“upon Matthias”) from the verse in the Acts of the Apostles that reads: “And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was added to the 11 Apostles”.

The relics of St Matthias were taken to Jerusalem and some were claimed by St Helen, the Roman empress, when she went to the Holy Land to find the true cross. The feast day of the Apostle was transferred from February 24 to May 14 during the calendar reform of 1969.