May 10, 2015

Holy Apostle Simon the Zealot

St. Simon the Zealot and Apostle (Feast Day - May 10)

The holy Simon was a native of Cana of Galilee and was known personally to the Lord and to His all-pure Mother, for the town of Cana was not far distant from Nazareth. When Simon celebrated the occasion of his marriage, he invited to that festivity the Lord, His immaculate Mother, and His disciples. Since there was a shortage of wine for the guests, the Lord changed water into wine [cf. Jn. 2:1-11]. Struck by this miracle, the bridegroom came to believe in Jesus as Lord, and, leaving his wedding festivities and his very house, he followed after the Lord with zeal. Hence he received the name "the Zealot", since he was inflamed with so great a zeal that he forsook his own bride for love of Christ, wedding his soul to the Heavenly Bridegroom. For this, Simon was numbered among the assembly of Christ's disciples and in the ranks of the twelve holy apostles.

On Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in the form of tongues of fire, they received the gift of tongues, enabling them to preach the Gospel to all nations. Having received the Holy Spirit with the rest, Simon went forth and preached Christ throughout various lands, passing through Egypt, Mauritania, Libya, Numidia, Cyrenia and Abkhazia. In Abkhazia, a region on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, he enlightned with the Faith of Christ many pagans. He also went to Britain, where he enlightened many unbelievers with the light of the Gospel. There he was crucified by idolaters and buried. This is one of the earliest traditions, the principal authority for which is St. Dositheos, Bishop of Gaza (300 A.D.). St. Nikephoros, Patriarch of Constantinople, a respected historian in his own right (758-829), also confirms his visit to Britain.

Other traditions place the apostle in Persia, with St. Jude, with whom he was martyred. And yet others claim that St. Simon the Zealot was buried in the city of Nikopsia, near Dzhigentia. The ruins of this city are pointed out by the local inhabitants some thirteen miles from Sukhumi, not far from the shore of the Black Sea. A church was later erected on the site of the Saint's death, and this structure was renovated in 1875, through the zeal of one of the grand dukes of Russia.

The holy Apostle Simon the Zealot is commemorated on May 10th, and should be distinguished from Simon Peter, who was also one of the twelve apostles, and from Symeon the Brother of the Lord [Matt. 13:55], who belonged to the ranks of the seventy apostles and was the second bishop of Jerusalem, the successor of the Apostle James, the Brother of the Lord. St. Simon the Zealot is also commemorated by the Holy Church on June 30th, together with the rest of the apostles.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Divine zeal possessed you when He Who became incarnate made Himself known to you; and were shown forth as a zealot among the apostles. And being zealous to emulate the Master in death, you departed unto Him through crucifixion. O glorious Simon, entreat Christ God, that we be granted great mercy.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
With praise let us all bless Simon, for he spake of God and planted the doctrines of wisdom securely in men's souls. And now he stands before the throne of glory and exalts with the incorporeal ones, interceding unceasingly for us all.

Burning with a holy and fervent zeal, O blessed apostle, you did prove eager to preach Christ's name even to the ends of the world, O zealous Simon, true herald of the kingdom and minister of grace.

From The Lives of the Holy Apostles, Holy Apostles' Convent, Buena Vista, Co., pp. 229-231.