January saints: Timothy and Titus
Aside from being followers of Jesus and members of the early Christian community, Titus and Timothy had something else in common. Both were close friends and companions of St. Paul, and both received letters from him addressed directly to them. Each would also eventually become bishops in the Church, Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete.
Timothy came from both Gentile and Jewish roots; his father was a Greek from the city of Lystra in Lycaenia, (located in present-day Turkey), while his mother, Eunice, was a convert to Judaism. Although we don’t know precisely when Timothy was born, we are fairly certain that he was converted to Christianity by St. Paul about the year 47, shortly after his grandmother, Lois, also became a Christian.
Despite his youth, he soon joined Paul in his missionary work, becoming both his friend and confidant. He was present when Paul founded the Church at Corinth and would later return there to remind its inhabitants of the Christian teachings they had received but were beginning to stray from.
Timothy was apparently also with Paul when the latter was placed under arrest in Rome and was, at least for a time, imprisoned there for the faith himself. Paul subsequently sent Timothy to be the representative of the Church in Ephesus, where he would later become bishop. In chapter two of the Book of Revelation, mention is made of the “angel of the church of Ephesus,” and some have concluded that this was a reference to St. Timothy.
According to tradition, Timothy eventually was stoned to death by the pagans of Ephesus when he opposed the worship of Dionysius.
Unlike Timothy, Titus had no Jewish roots and was a Greek Gentile from Antioch. After converting to Christianity, he became a very close friend of St. Paul and an administrator in the early Church. His reputation as a peacemaker proved indispensable in smoothing over some of the inevitable rough edges that arose among the new Christians, and it is obvious from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians that Titus was important not only to the missionary work of the Church but to Paul himself as a trusted friend. “But God, who encourages the downcast, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his arrival but also by the encouragement with which he was encouraged in regard to you …” (2 Cor 2:6-7).
Titus was later sent to the island of Crete to help organize the Church there, staying on to become its first bishop. According to tradition, he served in that capacity until the age of more than 90.
Mentioned at least 26 times in the New Testament, the importance of Sts. Timothy and Titus cannot be underestimated. Among the most trusted and beloved companions of St. Paul, they accompanied him in many of his journeys and continued to labor in the churches he worked so hard to establish.
Timothy is the patron saint of stomach disorders, and Titus is the patron of Crete. Their feast is celebrated on Jan. 26.
Sources for this article include:
Aherne, Cornelius. “Epistles to Timothy and Titus.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.
“Saint Timothy.” CatholicSaints.Info. 10 February 2018.
“Saint Titus.” CatholicSaints.Info. 10 February 2018.