Feast Day : June 11
Patronage: missionary labors; weavers; Florence; Milan
Barnabas was not one of the original apostles of Jesus, but was named so by the apostles after he converted from Judaism (he was a Levite) to Christianity in Jerusalem. He was born Joses Justus on Cyprus. Upon his conversion, he sold his property and gave the money to the Apostles. He persuaded the Christians in Jerusalem to accept Paul as a disciple. He went to Antioch, Syria, and brought Paul there from Tarsus. Barnabas, his cousin, John Mark, and Paul went on missions in Cyprus and Perga. John Mark left them, and Barnabas and Paul went on to Antioch in Pisidia and to Iconium, Lystria and Lycaonia (present-day Turkey). They were severely persecuted in Pisidion Antioch; and in Lycaonia they were welcomed as gods but then literally stoned out of the city. They returned to Antioch in Syria. Barnabas and Paul went to a council in Jerusalem, but fell out with each other upon their return to Syrian Antioch. Barnabas wished to have John Mark travel with them again, but Paul objected because John Mark had not stayed with them on their previous journey. Barnabas returned to Cyprus with John Mark. Little is known about the rest of his life. He is said to have preached in Rome and Alexandria. Legend holds that he was stoned to death in Salamis, Greece, in A.D. 61. His grave was discovered in 485 or 486, and his remains were taken to Constantinople (now Istanbul) by Emperor Zeno. Some of his remains were distributed to Milan, Edenna, Pavia, Genoa, Cremona, Naples, Cologne, Bologna, Florence, Prague, Namur, Tournai and Toulouse. Barnabas is invoked against hailstorms, arguments and grief. His name is first in Eucharistic prayers. He is described in the Acts of the Apostles. Historians have established that he is not the author of the apocryphal epistle of Barnabas or the gospel of Barnabas. The Acts of Barnabas, supposedly written by John Mark, actually were composed much later, in the fifth century.