Denver, Colo., Jan 20, 2013 / 06:13 am
On Jan. 26, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, close companions of the Apostle Paul and bishops of the Catholic Church in its earliest days.
Both men received letters from St. Paul, which are included in the New Testament.
Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians also venerate the saints, but do not combine their commemorations. Instead, the Byzantine tradition remembers St. Titus on Aug. 25 and St. Timothy on Jan. 22.
Pope Benedict XVI discussed these early bishops during a general audience on Dec. 13, 2006, noting "their readiness to take on various offices" in "far from easy" circumstances. Both saints, the Pope said, "teach us to serve the Gospel with generosity, realizing that this also entails a service to the Church herself."
The son of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father, Timothy came from Lystra in present-day Turkey. His mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, are known to have joined the Church, and Timothy himself is described as a student of Sacred Scripture from his youth.
After St. Paul's visit to Timothy's home region of Lycaonia, around the year 51, the young man joined the apostle and accompanied him in his travels. After religious strife forced Paul to leave the city of Berea, Timothy remained to help the local church. Paul later sent him to Thessalonica to help the Church during a period of persecution.
The two met up again in Corinth, and Timothy eventually journeyed to Macedonia on Paul's behalf. Problems in the Corinthian Church brought Timothy back for a time, after which he joined Paul and accompanied the apostle in subsequent travels.
Like Paul, Timothy endured a period of imprisonment in the course of his missionary work. His release is mentioned in the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews.
Around the year 64, Timothy became the first bishop of the Church of Ephesus. During that same year, he received the first of two surviving letters from St. Paul. The second, written the next year, urges Timothy to visit St. Paul in Rome, where he was imprisoned before his martyrdom.