After the Ascension of Jesus, St. Peter proposed to the assembled faithful that they choose a disciple of Christ to fill the place of the traitor Judas in the first missionary band. Lots were drawn, with the result in favor of Matthias. According to one ancient tradition, this missioner labored in Ethiopia and was martyred there. Thus did St. Matthias receive "the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him." The Church venerates St. Matthias on an equal footing with the other Apostles, whose voices resound throughout the world, from generation to generation, giving testimony of what they saw and heard in their life with our Lord. His name is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass.
According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, St. Matthias' feast was celebrated on February 24 or 25. Today is the commemoration of St. Boniface who after a stormy youth, was converted to the Catholic faith, suffered numerous tortures, and was beheaded in 307.
Mathias was one of the first to follow our Savior; and he was an eye-witness of all His divine actions up to the very day of the Ascension. He was one of the seventy-two disciples; but our Lord had not conferred upon him the dignity of an apostle. And yet, he was to have this great glory, for it was of him that David spoke, when he prophesied that another should take the bishopric left vacant by the apostasy of Judas the traitor. In the interval between Jesus' Ascension and the descent of the Holy Ghost, the apostolic college had to complete the mystic number fixed by our Lord Himself, so that there might be the twelve on that solemn day, when the Church, filled with the Holy Ghost, was to manifest herself to the Synagogue. The lot fell on Mathias; he shared with his brother-apostles the persecution in Jerusalem, and, when the time came for the ambassadors of Christ to separate, he set out for the countries allotted to him. Tradition tells us that these were Cappadocia and the provinces bordering on the Caspian Sea.
The virtues, labor, and sufferings of St. Mathias have not been handed down to us: this explains the lack of proper lessons on his life, such as we have for the feasts of the rest of the apostles. Clement of Alexandria records in his writings several sayings of our holy apostle. One of these is so very appropriate to the spirit of the present season, that we consider it a duty to quote it. 'It behooves us to combat the flesh, and make use of it, without pampering it by unlawful gratifications. As to the soul, we must develop her power by faith and knowledge.' How profound is the teaching contained in these few words! Sin has deranged the order which the Creator had established. It gave the outward man such a tendency to grovel in things which degrade him, that the only means left us for the restoration of the image and likeness of God unto which we were created, is the forcible subjection of the body to the spirit. But the spirit itself, that is, the soul, was also impaired by original sin, and her inclinations were made prone to evil; what is to be her protection? Faith and knowledge. Faith humbles her, and then exalts and rewards her; and the reward is knowledge.
—Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.
Symbols and Representation: Halbert; lance; carpenter's square; sword held by its point; axe; saw; scroll; scimitar and book; stone; battle axe; two stones; long cross; hatchet.
Patronage: Alcoholism; carpenters; reformed alcoholics; smallpox; tailors; diocese of Gary; Indiana; diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Montana;
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Celebrate the triumph of St. Matthias by reading the hymn taken from the Menaea of the Greeks.