The Life of St. Matthias
Matthias, whose name means gift of God, was born in the 1st Century inJudaea, in the Roman Empire. According to the book of Acts in the Bible,Matthias had been with Jesus from his baptism by John until hisAscension, even though he was not mentioned in the list of Jesus’disciples.
The appointment of Matthias as an Apostle was made after Jesus hadascended into heaven and before the descent of the Holy Spirit upon theearly church. Peter had proposed to the disciples for a nomination oftwo men to replace Judas Iscariot and they chose Joseph called Barsabasand Matthias.
After praying to God for guidance in choosing an Apostle, they castlots. The lot fell to Matthias signalling that he was now the 12thApostle of Jesus Christ. Soon after his election, Matthias received theHoly Spirit with other Apostles as stated in the book of Acts 2:1-4.
The Acts of the Apostles state that Matthias ministered in Judaea andthen carried missions to foreign places. According to Greek tradition,he Christianised Cappadocia, a mountain district in central Turkey.
He also preached in Aethiopia, by the region of Colchis which is now inmodern-day Georgia. That is the place where Matthias was stonedaccording to Nicephorus the Greek historian.
The Synopsis of Dorotheus states that Matthias preached the Gospel tobarbarians and meat-eaters in the interior of Ethiopia where the seaharbour of Hyssus is located.
As he was preaching the Gospel message, Matthias emphasised theimportance of self-control. For people to experience the peace and joythat God intends, Matthias said, people must subordinate their physicaldesires to their spiritual desires.
He used to teach people that the physical body is only temporary andsubject to many temptations to sin and illnesses. However, the spiritualsoul is permanent and able to discipline the body for good purposes.Matthias preached that the Holy Spirit would empower people to exerciseself-control over their unhealthy physical desires so that they canexperience good health in their bodies and soul.
Death of Matthias
Matthias died in the year 80AD. However, there is conflictinginformation about the place of death and burial site of Matthias. TheSynopsis of Dorotheus tradition claims that Matthias died atSebastopolis and was buried near the Temple of the Sun. Anothertradition maintains that he was stoned in Jerusalem by the local peopleand beheaded.
The Hippolytus of Rome tradition states that Matthias died of old age inJerusalem. According to Nicephorus, a marker placed in the ruins of theRoman fortress at Gonio in the modern Georgian region of Adjara claimsthat Matthias is buried at that site.
There is a claim that the remains of St Matthias were taken to Italy byEmpress Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine 1, the Great. Theother part of these remains is said to have been taken to the Abbey ofSanta Giustina in Padua and the other part is in the Abbey of StMatthias, Trier in Germany.
St Matthias’ feast day is celebrated on 14 May. Initially, in the 11thCentury Roman Calendar, the feast was celebrated on 24 February andduring leap years it was celebrated on 25 February. When the GeneralRoman calendar was revised in 1969, that is when the day of the feastwas transferred to 14 May to avoid celebrating it in Lent.
However, the Eastern Rites of the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrate thefeast on 9 August. The Western Rite parishes of the Orthodox Church arestill following the Old Roman Rite of 24 and 25 February in leap years.
The Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, as well as other oldercommon prayer books in the Anglican Communion, celebrate Feast Day on 24February. The same applies to the Episcopal Church, Lutheran Church ofMissouri Synod and the Lutheran Church of Canada.
St Matthias is the Patron saint of alcoholics, carpenters, tailors;Gary, Indiana; Great Falls-Billings, Montana, smallpox; hope andperseverance.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Matthias
- He was an Apostle who replaced Judas Iscariot.
- Even as an Apostle of Jesus, St Matthias is only mentioned in the
book of Acts and nowhere else in the New Testament.
5.He was part of the 72 disciples whom Jesus sent out to preach the Good
Prayer to St. Matthias
O Glorious Saint Matthias, in God’s design it fell upon you to take theplace of the unfortunate Judas who betrayed his Master. You wereselected by the twofold sign of the uprightness of your life and thecall of the Holy Spirit.Obtain for us the grace to practice the same uprightness of life and tobe called by that same Spirit to wholehearted service of the Church.Then after a life of zeal and good works let us be ushered into yourcompany in heaven to sing forever the praises of Father, Son, and HolySpirit. Amen.