S. Silas, Apostle>
Account by Dr Mark A. Wuonola
According to the entry in the Roman Martyrology for 13 July, “In Macedonia, blessed Silas, who was one of the first brethren, was sent by the Apostles to the Churches of the Gentiles together with Paul and Barnabas. Full of the grace of God, he zealously carried out the office of preaching and, glorifying Christ with his sufferings, afterwards rested in peace”. S. Silas, sometimes called Silvanus (Greek: a wood), was indeed among the most prominent early Christian disciples. He is mentioned as one of the Elders of the Church at Jerusalem, “chief among the brethren” (Acts 15:22). His name may indicate him to have been a Hellenistic Jew; he appears to have had the rights of a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37). Some of the early Fathers consider Silas to have been Bishop of Corinth, and Silvanus Bishop of Thessalonica.
S. Silas was S. Paul’s companion on his first visit to Macedonia and Corinth (Acts 15: 22-40; 2 Corinthians 1:19), accompanying SS Paul and Barnabas to Antioch with the decree of the Council of Jerusalem. S. Silas returned to Jerusalem and then went back to Antioch where he joined S. Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40). In Philippi, SS Paul and Silas were imprisoned. After they prayed at midnight, the prison was shaken and their hands loosed, and the goaler was converted and baptized (Acts 17 23-40). S. Silas was left behind at Beraea with S. Timothy (Acts 17:14), later rejoining S. Paul at Corinth (Acts18:5). S. Paul associated him with himself and S. Timothy in writing to the Thessalonians (1 & 2 Thessalonians 1:1) and he was also placed at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 1:19, supporting the tradition that he became Bishop of Corinth.
Tradition identifies S. Silas with S. Peter’s amanuensis, who conveyed the first letter of S. Peter to Asia Minor (1 Peter 5:12). By some, Silas has been identified with Terentius, mentioned by S. Paul in Romans 16:22.
According to tradition, S. Silas died in Macedonia. In relation to a traditional story of his martyrdom, S. Silas is sometimes depicted being devoured by a lion. In the Western Church, S. Silas is commemorated on 13 July, while among the Greeks, where he is distinguished from S. Silvanus, both are commemorated on 30 July as well as S. Silas (by some) on 26 November. The relics of S. Silas were given by Pope Sergius in 691 to S. Bainus, Bishop of the Morini. They were held in honour at Therouanne, in the Church of S. Mary, until the town and church were destroyed by the emperor Charles V in 1554. A relic of S. Silas is preserved in this Church of S. Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town.
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