May 14

Matthias, whose name means “gift of God”, was the disciple chosen to replace Judas Iscariot as one of the Twelve Apostles. The Acts of the Apostles states that he was also one of the 72 disciples whom Jesus sent out to preach the Good News.

This portrait of St. Matthias was painted circa 1317-1319 by Italian gothic artist Simone Martini (c. 1284-1344). It is found in the Maitland F. Griggs Collection, Bequest of Maitland F. Griggs, 1943. (Public Domain/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Matthias was one of two men (the other being St. Joseph Barsabbas) who met the condition set by St. Peter that candidates had been with the Lord since His Baptism, and were “a witness to Christ’s Resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22). He remained with Jesus until His Ascension. After praying first, the apostles chose Matthias by drawing lots.

According to various traditions, Matthias preached in Cappadocia, Jerusalem, the shores of the Caspian Sea (in modern day Georgia) and Ethiopia. He is said to have met his death by crucifixion in Colchis or by stoning in Jerusalem.

According to some traditions, he was martyred by being stoned in Jerusalem, then beheaded. St. Hippolytus of Rome, however, contends that he died of old age.

There is evidence cited in some of the early Church Fathers that there was a Gospel according to Matthias in circulation, but it has since been lost and was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius. Perhaps more reliable is the early writing of St. Clement of Alexandria, who said Matthias insisted on the importance of mortification.

He is invoked for assistance against alcoholism and for support by recovered alcoholics.

Portions of this article were taken from Catholic News Service and Catholic News Agency.