Born: 1st Century, Cyprus
Died: 1st Century
Feast Day: 11th June
Shrine: Salamis, Cyprus
Patron Saint: Cyprus, Peace, Hailstorms
Writings: The Epistle of Barnabas - apocryphal
Saint Barnabas was born Joseph in Cyprus in the first century to wealthy Jewish parents. He travelled to the Holy Land to study law. The Acts of the Apostles describe him as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 6:24). Although Barnabas was not one of the original 12 apostles, it is believed he was one of the 72 commissioned by Jesus to preach, thus given the honorary title of Apostle. He was named Barnabas which means ‘man of encouragement’ when he sold all his goods from his large inheritance and gave the money to the apostles.
Barnabas lived in Jerusalem with the early Christians and was a schoolmate of Saint Paul. He was one of the first to accept Paul’s Christianity and was tantamount in persuading the others to do so as well and introduced Peter to Paul. Barnabas travelled to Antioch in Syria and brought Paul there from Tarsus. They then travelled with Mark to Cyprus on their first missionary journey, at Perga Mark returned to Jerusalem, but Paul and Barnabas carried on to Antioch in Pisidia and then Iconium. After this they moved to Lystra but had to flee to Antioch in Syria when they were stoned.
They went back to Jerusalem to discuss whether non-Jews needed to be circumcised to be baptised. When they returned to Antioch, Barnabas wanted Paul and Mark to continue with him but Paul and Mark fell out and Barnabas sided with Mark and they went back to Cyprus, not much more is known about Barnabas although it is believed that he made up with Paul and that he preached in Alexandria and Rome before being stoned to death in Salamis around 61AD. He is considered the founder of the Cypriot Church.
References: Saints, Robbie Blake, HarperCollins
The Bible and the Saints, G.Duchet-Suchaux, M.Pastoureau Flammarion