Feast Day: January 26
The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, close companions of the Apostle Paul and bishops of the Catholic Church in its earliest days. Both men received letters from Saint Paul, which are included in the New Testament.
Pope Benedict XVI discussed these early bishops during a general audience on Dec. 13, 2006, noting “their readiness to take on various offices” in “far from easy” circumstances. Both saints, the Pope said, “teach us to serve the Gospel with generosity, realizing that this also entails a service to the Church herself.”
Timothy, missionary and disciple of Paul, was born at Lystra, the son of a Gentile father and a Jewish mother. He studied Scripture as a young man, but was circumcised by Paul to make him more acceptable to the Jewish Christians (Acts 16:3). Paul found Timothy to be a valuable assistant, using him on several missions as his representative, for example to the Thessalonians, the Corinthians, and the Ephesians. The tradition recorded by Eusebius claimed Timothy as first bishop of Ephesus. Paul’s letters to Timothy direct him to correct innovators and teachers of false doctrine and to appoint bishops and deacons.
Ancient sources state that Timothy followed his mentor Paul in dying as a martyr for the Christian faith. In the year 93, during his leadership of the Church in Ephesus, he took a stand against the worship of idols at a pagan festival and was consequently killed by a mob with stones and clubs.
Titus, disciple of Paul, who later became his companion and secretary, was of Gentile birth and for that reason was not circumcised when he became a Christian. He took part in the Council of Jerusalem and was sent to Corinth on a difficult mission where he successfully reconciled the Christian community there with Paul, its founder. Titus was later left by Paul on their missionary journeys to organize the church in Crete. Later still he was sent to Dalmatia, but he was believed to have returned ultimately to Crete.
Titus is credited with leading the Church of Crete well into his 90s, overturning paganism and promoting the faith through his prayers and preaching. According to Eusebius of Caesarea in the Ecclesiastical History, he served as the first bishop of Crete. Unlike Timothy, Titus was not martyred, but died peacefully in old age.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone.” (1Tim 2.1)
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” (1Tim 4.1)
“For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” (2Tim 1.7)
“You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come.” (2Tim 3.1)
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.” (Titus 2.11)
“He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3.5)
Bunson, Matthew, Margaret Bunson, and Stephen Bunson. “Encyclopedia of Saints-Revised.” Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2003.
CNA-Catholic News Agency. 2015. Englewood, CO. Web. 28 January 2015.
Farmer, David. “Oxford Dictionary of Saints.” New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
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