Saint of the Day – 24 January – Saint Timothy (Died c 97) Disciple of St Paul, Bishop of Ephesus and Martyr, Confessor, Missionary. Died by being stoned to death in c 97. Patronages – against intestinal disorders; against stomach diseases; of Termoli, Italy. Also known as – Timotheus. Additional Memorials – 26 January (Novus Ordo), 23 January (Australia), 27 January (Norway).
The Roman Martyrology states of St Timothy today: “The birthday of St Timothy, disciple of the Apostle, St Paul, who consecrated him Bishop of Ephesus. After many combats for Christ, he was stoned for reprehending those who offered sacrifices to Diana and shortly after, went peacefully to rest in the Lord.”
St Timothy, the beloved disciple of St Paul, was of Lycaonia and probably of the City of Lystra. His father was a Gentile but his mother, Eunice, was a Jewess. When Paul and Barnabas first visited Lystra, Paul healed a person crippled from birth, leading many of the inhabitants to accept his teaching. When he returned a few years later with Silas, Timothy was already a respected member of the Christian community as were his mother and grandmother Lois and St Paul commends their faith. Timothy had made the holy scriptures his study from his childhood. In 1 Corinthians 16:10, there is a suggestion that he was by nature reserved and quiet: “When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord.”
Timothy’s father was a Greek Gentile. Thus Timothy had not been circumcised and Paul now ensured that this was done, according to Acts 16:1-3, to enable Timothy’s acceptability to the Jews, who they would be evangelising. St Chrysostom here admires the prudence, steadiness and charity of St Paul and we may add, the voluntary obedience of our disciple, Timothy.
After he was circumcised, St Paul, by the imposition of hands, committed to him the ministry of preaching, his rare virtue making ample amends for his want of age. From that time the Apostle regarded him not only as his disciple and most dear son but as his brother and the companion of his labours. He calls him a man of God and tells the Philippians, that he found no-one so truly united to him in heart and sentiments, as Timothy.
Timothy became St Paul’s disciple and later his constant companion and co-worker in preaching. In the year 52, Paul and Silas took Timothy along with them on their journey to Macedonia. Augustine extols his zeal and disinterestedness in immediately forsaking his country, his house, and his parents, to follow the apostle, to share in his poverty and sufferings.
Timothy may have been subject to ill health or “frequent ailments” and Paul encouraged him to “use a little wine for your stomach’s sake,” hence his patronage of stomach ailments,”
When Paul went on to Athens, Silas and Timothy stayed for some time at Beroea and Thessalonica before joining Paul at Corinth.
Timothy’s bond with Paul was close. Timothy’s name appears as the co-author on 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians and Philemon. Paul wrote to the Philippians about Timothy, “I have no-one like him.”
When Paul was in prison and awaiting martyrdom, he summoned his faithful friend Timothy for a last farewell.
That Timothy was jailed at least once during the period of the writing of the New Testament is implied by St Paul in Hebrews when he mentions Timothy’s release at the end of the epistle.
Although not stated in the Scriptures other sources have records of the Apostle’s death. The apocryphal Acts of Timothy (5th Century) states that in the year 97, the 80-year-old Bishop tried to halt a procession in honor of the goddess Diana by preaching the Gospel. The angry pagans beat him, dragged him through the streets and stoned him to death.
From the 13th century until 1969 the feast of Timothy (alone, that is without St Titus whose feast day is 6 February) is today, 24 January, the day before that of the Conversion of Saint Paul.
In the 4th century, the relics of Timothy were transferred from Ephesus to Constantinople and placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles near the tombs of Saints Andrew and Luke. In the 13th century, the relics seem to have been taken to Italy by a count returning from the crusades and buried, around 1239, in the Termoli Cathedral. The remains were re-discovered in 1945, during restoration works.