November 14, 2015

Holy Apostle Philip, One of the Twelve

St. Philip the Apostle (Feast Day - November 14)


Your feet were fastened on the cross O Philip,
Those feet that were washed by the Savior are avenged.
Philip on the fourteenth was lifted upside down.

Saint Philip was from Bethsaida of Galilee, where Peter and Andrew were from as well. Our Lord summoned Philip to follow Him and be one of His chosen twelve disciples, and believing with all his heart that our Lord Jesus was the Messiah, he followed Him through the course of His earthly ministry. Wanting his friend Nathaniel to also follow the promised Messiah, he announced to him: "We have found Him, of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph!" Nathaniel doubted and responded: "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip did not respond, but merely invited him to "Come and see." And indeed upon Nathaniel meeting the Lord Jesus, he was convinced that he was the Messiah and followed the Lord as well (Jn. 1:44-49).

One day the Lord found an opportunity to test the faith of Philip and set him right concerning His divine nature, so upon crossing the Sea of Tiberius, five thousand people followed Him and were in need of food to eat. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do. Philip answered Him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Then Jesus took five small loaves of barley bread and two small fish and miraculously multiplied them to feed the five thousand (Jn. 6).

Prior to the Lord's voluntary arrest, passion and crucifixion, at the Secret Supper, Philip boldly asked the Lord: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?' Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it" (Jn. 14:8-14).

Holy tradition tells us that after he was filled with the Holy Spirit with the other Apostles on Pentecost, Philip was chosen to preach the Gospel is Asia Minor. Passing through Galilee and Syria he preached the Gospel and confirmed its power through miracles, healing diseases, casting out demons and raising the dead in the name of Christ. This resulted in the Baptism of many and the establishment of Christian communities in places like Hierapolis and Azotus in Syria.

Passing through Lydia and Mysia in Asia Minor, he converted the pagans of that area to the true God, and there was joined by the holy Apostle Bartholomew, who was preaching nearby, and Philip's sister Mariamne, who followed them and served the needs of the Apostles and the communities they established. In one of the villages of Lydia they also met the holy Apostle John the Theologian, and all together they went to Phrygia, and from there to another Hierapolis in Asia Minor. This city was home to countless idols, and even constructed a temple to a viper, since the superstitious people worshiped vipers and serpents. When the three Apostles slew the viper through their prayers as with a spear to demonstrate the power of Christ, John departed from the city and went his own way, while Philip, Bartholomew and Mariamne remained in Hierapolis, diligently striving to destroy the gloom of idolatry with the light of the knowledge of the truth, laboring night and day. The city came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and presbyters were ordained to serve the needs of the believers.

There lived in the city a man named Stachys, who had been blind for forty years. With the power of prayer, Stachys received the sight of his physical eyes and was also illumined from his spiritual blindness through the hands of the Apostles. Having baptized Stachys, they lived in his house, and crowds from the city would come there to visit the Apostles, where they counseled the people and healed them.

The wife of Nicanor, the mayor of the city, was bitten by a serpent while her husband was away and lay sick unto death. Hearing of the Apostles staying in the home of Stachys, she commanded her slaves to bear her to them. She was miraculously healed of the serpent's bite as well as the delusions of demons, and after being instructed in the Christian faith, she came to believe and was baptized.

When Nicanor returned and heard news of the Baptism of his wife, he was enraged and had the Apostles arrested and the home of Stachys set on fire. Philip, Bartholomew and Mariamne were dragged through the street and beaten and mocked along the way till they were imprisoned. Thinking that they were sorcerers who performed their miracles and destroyed their serpent god through magic, the pagan priests had Philip and Bartholomew stripped to reveal their magic charms. Finding nothing they approached to do the same to the virgin Mariamne, but as they approached they saw her as a fiery flame causing them to flee in fear. Then the mayor condemned them to death by crucifixion.

First to suffer was Philip. Having bored holes through his ankle bones and passed cords through them, they crucified him with his head downwards, in front of the portals of the vipers temple, all the while casting stones at him. They also crucified Bartholomew on the wall of the temple. When an earthquake struck and swallowed up in the earth the mayor with the pagan priests and the impious, those who remained testified to the innocence of the Apostles and sought to take them down. They managed to recover Bartholomew, but for Philip, who was crucified high up, they did not manage, for it was the will of God to receive his soul after he prayed on behalf of the people. Mariamne, after witnessing his suffering, embraced him and kissed him when he was removed from the cross, and rejoiced that her brother was accounted worthy of suffering for Christ. Bartholomew and Mariamne remained in Hierapolis for a time and baptized the people, then they went on their respective missionary journeys. Stachys was ordained Bishop of the city of Hierapolis by Bartholomew.

The Apostle Philip's relics remained in Hierapolis in an octoganal church dedicated to him for many years, the ruins of which can be seen till this day. In 560 they were transferred to Rome, where they now rest in the Church of the Twelve Apostles. His holy skull went to Constantinople, but in 1204 it was sent to Cyprus for protection where it was kept in the village of Arsos in a church dedicated to the Apostle. To better protect the holy skull it was brought to the Monastery of the Honorable Cross in Omodos in 1788 where it remains today. One of the arms of the Apostle was also kept in Constantinople, in the Church of Panagia Pammakaristos. In 1167, Emperor Manuel I Komnenos (1143-1180) gave it to his neice Maria as a holy pledge, when she was given in marriage to Amaury I, crusader King of Jerusalem. In 1204 this sacred arm was transferred to Florence, where it remains till today. One hand is also kept at Kykkos Monastery in Cyprus, a finger at Neamts Monastery in Romania, and portions of relics are at Dionysiou and Xenophontos Monasteries in Mount Athos.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
When you received divine illumination from the Comforter, you did rise like a fiery star unto the world, and with divine light you dispelled the darkness of ignorance. Wherefore, we entreat you, intercede to Christ God, that we be granted great mercy.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The inspired Philip, the disciple, friend and emulator of Your Passion, O God, preached You to the world. By his supplications keep Your Church from lawless enemies, through the prayers of the Theotokos, O most Merciful One.

As a true disciple and friend of God, O Philip, you preached Christ unto the world. Wherefore, as an apostle and witness of the Savior, you endured torments and death for the sake of His name.