"Everyone who belongs to the Truth hears my voice…" (John 18:37)

Saint Matthias

Born: 1st Century AD – Judea, Roman Empire212_Trier

Died: 80 AD – Judea, Jerusalem or in Colchis

Canonized: Pre-Congregation

Feast Day: May 14

Patronage: alcoholism; carpenters; Gary, Indiana; Great Falls-Billings, Montana; smallpox; tailors; hope; perseverance



A Thought to Contemplate

Iwater_bucket_solid_state-2t’s been said to those who believe themselves to be all that important and irreplaceable: “Get yourself a bucket, fill it up three quarters of the way with water and put your fist in it. Your presence in the lives of those around you is like that fist in the water. Keep it there for a few minutes, pull it out and notice the amount of time it takes for the water to fill up the space you once occupied – because that’s about how long it will take for the world to replace you once you are gone…”

 The Call and Expectations

The fact that the life of he who betrayed the Master, Judas Iscariot, was replaced by St. Matthias serves as a sobering reminder of the humility with which we ought to be making use of our gifts in life. Here’s a question: “Would Matthias have become a saint had he not been appointed to become one of the twelve Apostles?”

So often in life, people rise or fall through the expectations that are set before them by others. For Matthias, his life changed the day that Peter and the ten other disciples cast lots between he and Justus to see who would bear the responsibility of having to account before God for becoming one of the twelve.

Why the Twelve Apostles?

To understand the importance of his call – a call that gave rise to his sainthood – we need to keep in mind the origins of the twelve Apostles. It all goes back to the twelve sons of Israel who gave rise to the twelve tribes of Israel. The number twelve represents the fullness of those with whom God entered into a covenantal relationship back in the Old Testament. Following the death of King Solomon, the tribes began to splinter; eventually, many of them were lost, destroyed, or deported.

The symbolism behind Jesus choosing twelve Apostles represents how the new Israel is being gathered under the care and protection of the Good Shepherd who came to seek out the lost. Before Matthias filled up the hole left by Judas, Peter applied a criterion. The man chosen had to be someone who castinglotshad been with them all from the very beginning – from the time Jesus was baptized by John all the way until He was taken up into heaven. He had to be someone who had followed Jesus long before the world knew Him. Two men fit the description at hand, and in order to choose which was the right one, the disciples cast lots. “As the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.” (Acts 1:26)

His Life and Death

Unfortunately, nothing else is written concerning the life and witness of Matthias in the Scriptures. The limited knowledge we do have comes from a compilation of information from various authors. We know that he began his ministry in Judea. From there, “the tradition of the Greeks says that St. Matthias planted the faith in Cappadocia and on the coasts of the Caspian sea, residing chiefly near the port Issus.” [1]

Concerning how he met his end, “the Synopsis of Dorotheus contains this tradition: ‘Matthias preached the Gospel to barbarians and meat-eaters in the interior of Ethiopia, where the sea harbor of Hyssus is, at the mouth of the river Phasis. He died at Sebastopolis, and was buried there, near the Temple of the Sun.”[2] “Alternatively, another tradition maintains that Matthias was stoned at Jerusalem by the Jews, and then beheaded.”[3] This last tradition explains why Matthias is oftentimes portrayed holding an axe in his hand – the symbol through which he gave the ultimate witness for Christ as a pillar of the one true Church, an Apostle after the Lord’s own heart.

Contemplation cont’d…

Looking at our own life story, it’s true that our coming to the faith by means of baptism probably never happened because a group of people ‘cast lots’ for our future. However, in a very real way, seeingthe lot that we have received in having the gift of faith, in having the gift of health, in having the gift of life means that for now, the fist of our existence finds itself immersed within the waters of the world. And so it’s up to us this day, as it was up to the saints of old, to help others discover the hidden meaning behind their every day existence through the way we witness our love for the Good Shepherd.

And while it remains a fact that once we are gone, the world around us will not miss a beat as others rise to fill the void, for now, we are in the waters of the world. Therefore, just like Matthias and the other eleven Apostles when they were in the world, make as many waves as possible by means of agitating the waters around you. All for the sake of waking and drawing souls to Christ.

– Fr. Jerome



[1] Butler, Alban. “Saint Matthias, Apostle”, The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints, D. & J. Sadlier, & Company, 1864

[2] Jacque Eugène. Jacquier, “St. Matthias.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 10 Aug. 2014

[3] Tillemont, Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire ecclesiastique des six premiers siècles, I, 406–7).

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