Monday, May 14, 2012

Hail, Matthias, Apostle and Martyr

Abbey Church of St. Matthias, Trier

Today is the feast of St. Matthias, who was chosen by lot from among the 120 disciples to replace Judas Iscariot, the apostle who turned traitor.  Not much else is known for certain of Matthias.  According to one tradition, St. Matthias preached in Aetheopia on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, and was crucified there in about 80 AD.  Another tradition holds that St. Matthias was martyred in Jerusalem by being stoned and then beheaded.    For this reason, St. Matthias is often depicted holding a halberd, the instrument of his martyrdom.  What were believed to be St. Matthias's relics were brought to St. Maria Maggiore in Rome by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine.  A portion of the relics were interred at the monastery of St. Matthias at Trier, in Germany.  However, these relics may actually have belonged to a different Matthias who was bishop of Jerusalem and who also was martyred by stoning.  Until 1969, St. Matthias's feast was celebrated on Feb. 24.  This day was considered a very  favorable one for playing games of chance, since St. Matthias himself had been elected an apostle by lot.   St. Matthias's feast was moved to bring it out of Lent and closer to the Feast of the Ascension, since it was in the days following the Ascension that St. Matthias's election took place.

St. Matthias, pray for us.

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