Church Honours St. Barnabas – Apostle and Patron Saint of Antioch and Cyprus

Originally, Barnabas was called Joseph. He was a wealthy Jewish Levite from the island of Cyprus and was in Jerusalem around the time of the first Pentecost.

He was familiar with the apostles and received the Holy Spirit as a disciple of the Lord.

Even more, he sold all his possessions and generously gave all the money to the Church, thus earning for himself the name ‘Barnabas’ which means son of consolation.

It was Barnabas who introduced the converted Saul of Tarsus to the Jerusalem community. He sponsored him before the apostles, who found it hard to believe that their persecutor had changed so completely. Since then, his name was linked with Paul in spreading the Gospel. Their key moment came when the Church in Jerusalem heard the Spirit saying “set aside for me Paul and Barnabas” for a new mission to the Greek-speaking pagans of Asia Minor.

Paul and Barnabas went on three missionary journeys together, journeys which were challenging and difficult, a source of suffering as well as unspeakable joy. On occasion, they were mistaken for Greek gods – Paul for Hermes, the messenger, and Barnabas for majestic Zeus himself. At other times there were disputes among them on policy, and at one time Barnabas and Mark, his cousin, broke with Paul. With infinite patience Barnabas and Paul built up the churches, nourished them with doctrine, and entrusted them to groups of elders to carry on in the Lord’s name. In this they were assisted at various times by other apostles like John Mark, Timothy, Titus, Silas and Luke.

It is believed that Barnabas’s final years were spent in Cyprus, where he died a martyr’s death. His epitaph may well be the description of him we read in Acts of the Apostles, chapter 11: “Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.”

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