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St. Barnabas

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Saint Barnabas


Barnabas was a Jew of the tribe of Levi, born in Cyprus, and may have been one of the seventy-two disciples of Our Lord. He was known as Joseph until the Apostles gave him his new name after he sold his land in Jerusalem to help support the early Church. Though not one of the Twelve, he is honored as an Apostle, like his friend St. Paul, on whose behalf Barnabas spoke to the other Apostles, and whom Barnabas recruited to preach among the Gentiles at Antioch. These two “Apostles to the Gentiles” were later sent out to evangelize Asia Minor, assisted by St. Mark the Evangelist, a relative of Barnabas. Mark quickly left them, daunted by the mission, but Paul and Barnabas continued, succeeding despite hardship and persecution. The two later separated over accepting Mark back, but they remained friends nonetheless, and Mark later proved to Paul his newfound zeal. Barnabas returned with Mark to Cyprus, where certainty of his history ends. The city of Milan considers him their founding bishop, and various accounts relate that he preached in many other regions. The traditional Roman Martyrology relates that Barnabas was eventually martyred in Cyprus, where his body was discovered along with his handwritten copy of St. Matthew’s Gospel.


Traditional Roman Martyrology for June 11th

THE birthday [into heaven] of the apostle St. Barnabas, born in Cyprus. By the disciples, he was ordained apostle of the Gentiles with St. Paul, and with him traversed many regions, fulfilling his commission to preach the Gospel. At length he went to Cyprus, where he ennobled his apostolate by a glorious martyrdom. Through his own revelation his body was found, in the time of the emperor Zeno, together with a copy of St. Matthew’s gospel copied with his own hand.

At Aquileia, the martyrdom of the saints Feilx and Fortunatus, brothers. In the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian, they were racked, and had flaming torches held against their sides. These being extinguished by the power of God, boiling oil was poured over them, and as they persevered in confessing Christ, they were decapitated.

At Bologna, St. Parisius, confessor, a monk of the Order of Camaldoli.

At Rome, the translation of St. Gregory Nazianzen, whose sacred body after having been brought from Constantinople to Rome, and kept a long time in the church of the Mother of God, was, by the Sovereign Pontiff, Gregory XIII, transferred with great solemnity to a chapel of the basilica of St. Peter, most sumptuously decorated by his Holiness, and the next day placed with due honor beneath the altar.

℣. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

℟. Thanks be to God.

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