St. Matthias, Apostle and martyr

Matthias, whose name means “gift of God,” was the disciple chosen to replace Judas as one of the 12 Apostles. The Acts of the Apostles states that he was also one of the 72 disciples that the Lord Jesus sent out to preach the Good News.

Matthias had followed Jesus since His baptism and was a witness to His Resurrection and His Ascension, according to St. Peter in Acts.

According to Acts 1:15-26, during the days after the Ascension, St. Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers – about 120 of Jesus’ followers. Now that Judas had betrayed his ministry, it was necessary, St. Peter said, to fulfill the scriptural recommendation that another should take his office. But all of the apostles had been chosen by Jesus Himself, so the group of His followers needed to determine how to choose among them.

St. Peter then proposed the way to make the choice. He had one criterion: that, like Andrew, James, John and himself, the new apostle be someone who had been a disciple from the very beginning, from His baptism by John until the Ascension. The reason for this was simple – the new apostle must become a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. He must have followed Jesus before anyone knew Him, stayed with Him when He made enemies, and believed in Him when He spoke of the cross and of eating His Body – teachings that had made others melt away. “Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which He was taken up from us, become with us a witness to His resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22).

The group of Jesus’ followers then nominated two men who fit this description: Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. They prayed and then drew lots. The choice fell upon Matthias, who was added to the Eleven.

Matthias is not mentioned by name anywhere else in the New Testament.

According to various traditions, he preached in Cappadocia, Jerusalem, the shores of the Caspian Sea (in modern-day Georgia) and Ethiopia. He is said to have met his death by crucifixion in Colchis or by stoning in Jerusalem.

There is evidence cited in some of the early Church fathers that there was a Gospel according to Matthias in circulation, but it has since been lost, and was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius.

He is invoked for assistance against alcoholism, and for support by recovered alcoholics.


May 14 2022


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