March 15, 2017

Synaxarion of the Holy Apostle Aristobulus of the Seventy, First Bishop of Britain

St. Aristobulus the Apostle (Feast Day - March 15)


You followed Paul hither and thither Aristobulus,
And you dance together with Paul in the heavens.

Aristobulus was one of the Seventy Apostles,* and a follower of the Holy Apostle Paul, with whom he preached the gospel of Christ in various places, and ministered to him.** He was ordained by Paul as Bishop of the British Isles, which was inhabited by a very warlike and fierce people.*** By them he was sometimes scourged, and sometimes dragged to the marketplace, and through his sufferings and torments he convinced many of them to believe in Christ. Having established a Church, and ordained Deacons and Presbyters, the blessed one reposed in peace.****


* It is said that Aristobulus was a Jew from Cyprus and a brother of the Apostle Barnabas. Like Barnabas, he accompanied Saint Paul on his journeys, and was ordained a Bishop either by Paul or Barnabas. Some believe he was one of the assistants of Saint Andrew the Apostle, along with Urban of Macedonia, Stachys, Ampliatus, Apelles of Heraklion and Narcissus of Athens, who are together commemorated on October 31st. However, though some were assistants of Saint Andrew, their more likely association is that they are all mentioned by Paul in his epistle to the Romans.

** According to Dorotheos, Bishop of Tyre (ca. 255–362): "Aristobulus, whom Paul saluted, writing to the Romans, was Bishop of Britain." Saint Paul writes in Romans 16:10: "Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus." If this is the same Aristobulus, then it may be that Aristobulus lived in or had family in Rome.

*** It is believed that previous to this, he preached the Gospel to the Celts of Northern Spain, i.e. Celtiberians, whilst on his way to Britain. He is said to have labored in the part of Britain now known as Glastonbury and Wales; and the district of Arwystli (said to be named after Aristobulus) in Montgomeryshire on the Severn river commemorates one of the areas he labored in. Arwystli later became a small medieval British kingdom, and continues to this day as a district, or more precisely, a cantref within the county of Powys, Wales.

**** Other sources and local tradition in Britain says he was martyred there.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the First Tone
Let us acclaim Stachys, Apelles, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus and Aristobulus as a six-stringed harp of the Spirit, that sings of God's marvelous gifts to mankind. As divine Apostles they pray for us.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Let us thankfully praise the wise Apostles Stachys, Apelles, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus and Aristobulus, those treasures of the Holy Spirit and rays of the Sun of glory, who were brought together by the grace of our God.