Saint of the Day – 25 September – Saint Cleopas (First Century) Disciple of Christ – one of the two Disciples of the Way to Emmaus. Martyr. Also known as – Cleophas.
The Roman Martyrology states: “At Emmaus, the birthday of the blessed Cleopas, Disciple of Christ. It is related that he was killed by the Jews, for the confession of our Lord, in the same house in which he had entertained Him and where he was honourably buried.”
Now that very day, two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus Himself drew near and walked with them but their eyes were prevented from recognising Him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?“
They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to Him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?“
And He replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to Him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both, handed Him over to a sentence of death and crucified Him. But we were hoping that He would be the one to redeem Israel and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find His body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that He was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described but Him they did not see.“
And He said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them what referred to Himself in all the scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going, He gave the impression that He was going on farther. But they urged Him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while He was with them at table, He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognised Him but He vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while He spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found, gathered together, the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Cleopas has no further occurrence in the New Testament but in tradition he has often been identified with Clopas, another New Testament figure mentioned in John’s Gospel.
The historian, Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, quotes the earlier chronicler, Hegesippus, who wrote, c 180, that he had years before interviewed the grandsons of Jude the Apostle and learned that Clopas was the Brother of St Joseph, spouse of the Virgin Mary: “After the martyrdom of James, it was unanimously decided that Simeon, Son of Clopas, was worthy to occupy the See of Jerusalem. He was, it is said, a Cousin of the Saviour.” Hegesippus noted, that Clopas was a Brother of Joseph. Epiphanius adds that Joseph and Cleopas were Brothers, sons of “Jacob, surnamed Panther.”
According to the surviving fragments of the work Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord of the Apostolic Father Papias of Hierapolis, who lived c. 70–163, Cleophas and Alphaeus are the same person: “Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphaeus, who was the Mother of James the Bishop and Apostle and of Simon and Thaddeus and of one Joseph.”