Catholic Company / Magazine

Saint Barnabas: Facts and Fiction

Jun 10, 2012 by

St. BasnabasToday is the feast day of St. Barnabas. St. Barnabas is one of the early Christian missionaries to the gentiles. He was born of the tribe of Levi and converted to the faith shortly following Pentacost, according to tradition. Saint Barnabas was a contemporary of St. Paul and together they advocated at a council in Jerusalem for not applying circumcision laws to gentiles. Saint Barnabas was clearly a champion of the gentiles and a powerful evangelist. Here are some facts and myths of the great St. Barnabas.

-          Saint Barnabas was originally named Joseph – FACT – St. Barnabas was born in Cyprus by the name of Joseph. He sold all of his property and gave everything he had to the Apostles. They in turn named him Barnabas.

-          Saint Barnabas was the Bishop of Milan – MYTH – Tradition holds that Barnabas was the bishop of Milan but evidence points out that he was actually not the bishop. Evidence suggests that St. Barnabas was a missionary throughout his entire Christian life.

-          St. Barnabas was martyred in 61 – FACT – As of right now, we consider this to be factual. Tradition has held that he was stoned to death in Salamis holding a hand written copy of the Gospel according to Matthew. There is some debate as to whether the Gospel of Matthew was written that early, but he very well could have been martyred in 61.

-          St. Barnabas wrote the Epistle of Barnabas – MYTH – For the longest time this heretical work was attributed to St. Barnabas, but modern scholarship dates this work between 70 and 100 AD which is after the lifetime of Saint Barnabas. Many now hold that this Epistle is the work of an Italian Christian who converted to Islam.

These are just a few of the facts and myths of St. Barnabas. A great way to honor and remember St. Barnabas is through a St. Barnabas medal. A St. Barnabas medal could make the perfect gift for yourself or someone you love. Is St. Barnabas one of your favorite saints?