Saint Barnabas the Apostle was also known as Bernabé or Joseph. He was an early Christian disciple in Jerusalem but was a native of Cyprus and a Levite. He is the man who sold some of his land and gave the proceeds to the community. He is also the man who introduced St Paul to the apostles after his conversion on the Road to Damascus.
|Saint Barnabas the Apostle Biography|
|Date of Birth||1st Century AD|
|Place of Birth||Cyprus|
|Profession||Apostle to Antioch and Cyprus and Missionary|
|Place of Work||Roman Empire|
|Date of Death||61 AD|
|Place of Death||Salamis, Cyprus|
|Feast Day||June 11|
|Patron Saint of||Cyprus,
Invoked as peacemaker
Shrines Monastery of St Barnabas in Famagusta, Cyprus
Marbella, Costa del Sol, Spain
Saint Barnabas the Apostle Life History
St. Barnabas was born in Cyprus to wealthy Jewish parents in the early 1st century around the time Jesus was born. He was sent by his parents to study in Jerusalem at the school of Gamaliel, the same man who taught St Paul.
Barnabas took part in the Council of Jerusalem or Apostolic Council around 50 AD. He together with Paul the Apostle made many missionary journeys together, evangelizing among the “God-fearing” Gentiles, defending them from the Judaizers consequently making more converts.
St Paul mentions Barnabas severally in Acts of the Apostles and in some epistles. According to Colossians 4:10, Barnabas is mentioned as the cousin of Mark the Evangelist.
It is after Christianity took root at Antioch, which was home to non-Jews, that the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas there to take charge of evangelization. He was helped by St Paul to put the Church there in order. It is during this period that the members of the Church community were first called “Christians.”
Around 50 AD, Barnabas and Paul were sent to Jerusalem to consult with the Church there regarding how the Gentiles were to relate to the church. This matter was settled and they returned to Antioch with a verdict that the Gentiles did not have to adopt Jewish practices in order to be admitted into the church.
In 1 Corinthians St Paul says that he and Barnabas funded their missions by working extra time and went without wives and other benefits so that they may cause no hindrance to the Good News of Christ.
One time, while at Antioch, St Peter came and freely mingled with the Gentiles and ate with them, until he was told that was against Mosaic law by some disciples of James. Peter gave in to their criticism and stopped eating with the Gentiles. Barnabas followed suit and this displeased St Paul until he scolded them before the whole church for “not walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel”.
Later on, Paul requested Barnabas to accompany him on another journey. Barnabas wanted to tag John Mark along, but Paul was against it. This dispute resulted in Paul and Barnabas going to different routes.
Barnabas tagged John Mark along and headed to Cyprus while Paul, concerned by the stance Barnabas and Peter had taken against the Gentiles, took Silas as his companion, and went to Syria and Cilicia. Paul felt that stance would negatively influence his evangelization work among the Gentiles.
It is believed that Barnabas preached in Alexandria and Rome, and was stoned to death and died as a martyr at Salamis about 61 AD. He is the founder of the Cypriot Orthodox Church and Acts 11:24 describes him as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith”. In Greek, the name Barnabas means “son of encouragement” or “son of consolation”.
The feast of St Barnabas is celebrated on June 11 every year in the Catholic Church
St Barnabas is venerated in the following Churches
- Catholic Church
- Anglican Communion
- Eastern Orthodox Church
- Lutheran Church
- Oriental Orthodox Churches
Representation and Attribution
St Barnabas is represented as
- Red Martyr
- Pilgrim’s staff
- With Saint Paul
- Holding the Gospel of Matthew
- Standing on or near a pile of stones while holding a book
- Middle-aged bearded apostle, often bearing a book or olive branch
St Barnabas is the Patron Saint of
- Against hailstorms,
- Invoked as peacemaker
- Shrines Monastery of St Barnabas in Famagusta, Cyprus
- Against hailstorms
- Marbella, Costa del Sol, Spain
- Marino, Italy
Today’s Catholic Quote:
St. Barnabas’s life is full of suggestions to us who live in days when once more the abundant alms of the faithful are sorely needed by the whole Church, from the Sovereign Pontiff to the poor children in our streets.
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