St. Barnabas, designated by the Holy Spirit to share the charge and mission of the twelve Apostles, is venerated by the Church as one of them. He played an important part in the first extension of Christianity outside the Jewish world. It was Barnabas who presented St. Paul to the other Apostles when, after his long retreat in Arabia, he came to Jerusalem for the first time after his conversion to submit for Peter's approval the mission to the Gentiles entrusted to him by the Master Himself. Barnabas was Paul's companion and helper on his first missionary journey and returned with him to Jerusalem, but left him when he set out on his second journey and went to Cyprus. The name of St. Barnabas is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass.
Strictly speaking, Barnabas was not an apostle, but the title has been bestowed upon him since very early times. His first name was Joseph; Barnabas (etymology: "son of consolation") was a surname. He belonged to the tribe of Levi. He was a Hellenist, that is, a Jew who lived outside of Palestine and spoke the Greek tongue. Born in Cyprus, he embraced the faith soon after the death of Christ, becoming a member of the original Jerusalem community. His first noteworthy deed was to sell his belongings and place the money at the feet of the apostles.
Often portrayed as: middle-aged bearded apostle, often bearing a book or olive branch; standing on or near a pile of stones while holding a book; stones; with Saint Paul.Things to Do:
- Read the passages from the Acts of the Apostles about St. Barnabas: Acts 4:36-37; 9:26-29; 11:27-30; 12:24-25; 13:1-12; 13:27-30; 13:44-52; 14:1-14; 14:21-23; 14:36-40.
- Read the Catholic Encyclopedia's account of the life of St. Barnabas.