Today is the feast day of Saint Timothy. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Timothy, whom I have chosen as my special patron, pray for me that I, too, may one day glorify the Blessed Trinity in heaven. Obtain for me your lively faith, that I may consider all persons, things, and events in the light of almighty God. Pray, that I may be generous in making sacrifices of temporal things to promote my eternal interests, as you so wisely did. Set me on fire with a love for Jesus, that I may thirst for His sacraments and burn with zeal for the spread of His kingdom. By your powerful intercession, help me in the performance of my duties to God, myself and all the world. Win for me the virtue of purity and a great confidence in the Blessed Virgin. Protect me this day, and every day of my life. Keep me from mortal sin. Obtain for me the grace of a happy death. Amen
Saint Timothy was a convert of Saint Paul, born at Lystra in Asia Minor. His mother was a daughter of Israel, but his father was a pagan, and though Timothy had read the Scriptures from his childhood, he had never been circumcised. On the arrival of Saint Paul at Lystra the youthful Timothy, with his mother and grandmother, eagerly embraced the faith. Seven years later, when the Apostle again visited the country, the boy had grown into manhood. (2)
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877
The high esteem with which the Apostle Paul cherished Timothy, and the many praises which he bestowed upon him in his Epistles, are a convincing proof that St. Timothy was adorned with all those virtues which characterize an apostolic man. St. Paul calls him his dearest son and faithful companion, a servant of Christ, his brother, and the servant of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who does not seek himself, but Christ the Lord, etc., all encomiums that can only be given to a great Saint. Timothy was born at Listra, or Listris, in Lycaonia. His father was a pagan, and his mother, a Jewess, embraced the Christian religion when St. Paul came with St. Barnabas to Listra.
By the care of his mother, Timothy was brought up in the Faith, and was well instructed in the laws of God. When, afterwards, St. Paul came with Silas, his companion in his journeys, to Listra, he chose Timothy for co-laborer in announcing the doctrine of Jesus. After that, Timothy made many difficult journeys with St. Paul, and was often sent to preach the Gospel in various places whither the Apostle could not go in person. To make him more fit for these duties, St. Paul ordained him priest, and afterwards Bishop of Ephesus. He sent him two Epistles, the first from Laodicea, the second from Rome, in both of which he instructed him most carefully how to fulfil the duties of the Episcopal dignity. From one of these letters, we learn that Timothy had fasted strictly, and had abstained from the use of wine. Paul who was anxious about his health, advised him, on acount of his weak stomach, to take a little wine.
The Saint finished the great labors, which he underwent for the conversion of the pagans and the good of the newly converted, with a glorious martyrdom. For, when at Ephesus, where many were still pagans, a great feast was held in honor of the goddess Diana, the holy Bishop, urged on by his great zeal, went into the midst of the pagans, who were just engaged in offering sacrifices. With earnest and impressive words he showed them the impiety of their actions, and requested them to desist. But the enraged pagans rushed furiously upon him, dragged him for a time upon the earth, and at last began to stone him. Then the Christians bore him away by main force, and carried him to the top of a neighboring hill, where, full of joy that he could suffer and die according to his desire for the name of Christ, he gave up the ghost.
from the Liturgical Year, 1904
Before giving thanks to God for the miraculous Conversion of the Apostle of the Gentiles, the Church assembles us together for the Feast of his favourite Disciple. Timothy–the indefatigable companion of St. Paul–the friend to whom the great Apostle, a few days before shedding his blood for Christ, wrote his last Epistle–comes now to await his master’s arrival at the Crib of the Emmanuel. He there meets John the Beloved Disciple, together with whom he bore the anxieties attendant on the government of the Church of Ephesus; Stephen, too, and the other Martyrs, welcome him, for he, also, bears a Martyr’s palm in his hand. He presents to the august Mother of the Divine Babe the respectful homage of the Church of Ephesus, which Mary had sanctified by her presence, and which shares with the Church of Jerusalem the honour of having had Her as one of its number, who was not only, like the Apostles, the witness, but moreover, in her quality of Mother of God, the ineffable instrument of the salvation of mankind.
Let us now read, in the Office of the Church, the abridged account of the actions of this zealous disciple of the Apostles.
Timothy was born at Lystra in Lycaonia. His father was a Gentile, and his mother a Jewess. When the Apostle Paul came into those parts, Timothy was a follower of the christian religion. The Apostle had heard much of his holy life, and was thereby induced to take him as the companion of his travels: but, on account of the Jews, who had become converts to the faith of Christ, and were aware that the father of Timothy was a Gentile, he administered to him the rite of circumcision. As soon as they arrived at Ephesus, the Apostle ordained him Bishop of that Church.
The Apostle addressed two of his Epistles to him–one from Laodicea, the other from Rome–to instruct him how to discharge his pastoral office, he could not endure to see sacrifice, which is due to God alone, offered to the idols of devils; and finding that the people of Ephesus were offering victims to Diana, on her festival, he strove to make them desist from their impious rites. But they, turning upon him, stoned him. The Christians could not deliver him from their hands, till he was more dead than alive. They carried him to a mountain not far from the town, and there, on the ninth of the Calends of February (January 24), he slept in the Lord. (1)
St. Timothy was slain with stones and clubs by the heathen; he was endeavouring to oppose their idolatrous ceremonies on a festival called the Katagogia, kept on January 22, on which day they walked in troops, everyone carrying in one hand an idol and in the other a club. We have good evidence that what purported to be his relics were translated to Constantinople in the reign of Constantius. The supernatural manifestations said to have taken place at the shrine are referred to as a matter of common knowledge by both Chrysostom and St. Jerome. (3)
Sermon of St. Augustine on the Feast of St. Timothy
Today we keep our annual celebration of the triumph of the blessed Martyr Timothy, and the church, while rejoicing in his glory places him before us, that we may follow in his footsteps. If we suffer with him, we shall be glorified with him. There are two things to be considered in this glorious combat; namely, the hard-hearted cruelty of the torturer, that we may detest it; the patience of the Martyr, that we may imitate it. Hear what the Psalmist says in reproof of wickedness: be not emulous of evildoers, for they shall shortly wither away as grass. But the Apostle teaches patience with the wicked in the words: Patience is necessary for you, that you may receive the promise. (1)
Image: The Martyrdom of Saint Timothy (7)