Feast day: June 11
Saint Barnabas, though not one of the 12 apostles chosen by the Lord Jesus, is traditionally regarded as one of the 72 disciples of Christ. He was the most respected man in the first century Church after the Apostles themselves. His name, which was given to him by the Apostles (his parents gave him the name Joseph), means either “son of exhortation” or “son of consolation.”
Barnabas is believed to have been a Levite Jew, born and raised in Cyprus, the land to which he returned to found the Church as a follower of Christ, and of which he is the patron.
St. Luke described Barnabas as 'a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith' (Acts 6:24), and he was known for his exceptional kindliness and personal sanctity, and his openness to pagans. He was the first to urge the Apostles to receive St. Paul in Jerusalem, when the history of Paul’s persecutions against Christians was a cause for doubt.
He went with St. Paul and John Mark to Antioch where they spent much time preaching the Gospel. They were persecuted there by both the pagans and the Jews. Paul and Barnabas both went to the council of Jerusalem where they defended the position that pagans didn’t need to be circumcised upon entering the Church.
On their return to Antioch, "There arose a sharp contention between them. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus" (Acts 15:39). Not much is known of Barnabas’ life after this incident, although it seems that there was a reconciliation between him and Paul, owing to the references in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Galatians.
He is said to have been stoned to death in Salamis in the year 61.