24 February 2011

St. Matthias (February 24)

[Peter said] "Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us,  beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.  Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen  to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.”  Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles     Acts 1:21-26

We don't know much about St. Matthias, except that he replaced Judas and was martyred with an axe.  A popular medieval hagiography (encyclopedia of saints' lives), The Golden Legend, says:

And anon he began to preach, and had his predication about Jerusalem, and was much virtuous, and did many miracles as is written of him, of whom the legend followeth, which legend is found at Treves in Almaine [Trier in Germany].

St. Matthias which was set in the place of Judas was born in Bethlehem of the tribe of Judah. He was set to school and in a little time he learned all the science of the law and of the prophets; he was afeard of fleshly lusts, and he passed his youth in good manners. His courage was inclined to all virtues, for he was humble and debonair [meek], and alway ready to do mercy, and was not proud in prosperity, ne frail in adversity. He did that which he preached, he made the blind to see and healed the sick men, he raised the dead men, and did great miracles in the name of Jesu Christ.

And when he was accused hereof tofore the bishop of Jerusalem, it was demanded him that he should answer thereto and he said: It behoveth not much to answer hereto, because for to be a Christian man it is nothing criminal but it is a glorious life.

Then said the bishop that he would spare him and give him respite to repent him, and St. Matthias answered: God forbid that I should repent of the truth that I have truly found, and become an apostate.

He was firm in the love of God, and clean of his body, and wise in speaking of all the questions of scripture, and when he preached the word of God many believed in Jesu Christ by his predication.

The Jews took him and brought him to justice and had gotten two false witnesses against him and for to accuse him, the which cast on him first stones, and the other after, and so was stoned, and he prayed that the stones might be buried that the false witnesses had cast upon him, for to bear witness against them that stoned him.

And finally he was slain with an axe after the manner of the Romans. And he held up his hands and commended his spirit to God. And after it is said that his body was brought to Rome, and from Rome it was translated to Treves. Another legend saith that his body lieth at Rome, and buried under a stone of porphyry in the church of St. Mary the Major.

(If you follow the link back to The Golden Legend you'll find a humorous Judas Iscariot legend which seems to confuse him with Oedipus.)


*Here is a coloring page.  And here is another one.
*If you haven't already, today would be a good time to show your (not-too-young) kids how saints are often identified in art.  Usually they are holding the instrument of their torture or martyrdom.  St. Matthias usually holds an axe.
*Other ideas?

Fun superstitions

* Green things start germinating on this day, hence "on St. Matthias sow both leaf and grass."
* A sharp frost today will last a long time.
* Foxes fear to walk on ice after St. Matthias day, for “St. Matthias breaks the ice, if he finds it; if he does not break it, he makes it all the harder.”

1 comment:

  1. I always think it's interesting that all through the Bible people "cast lots" to find out the will of God, (after praying of course) and God actually reveals His will that way!!!

    Can you imagine? "Okay kids, we're going to flip a coin to see if it's God's will that you do this thing. Heads! Okay, God says 'Yes'!"
    Wouldn't that be great if it was that easy?