Saint Simon the Apostle

General Information

Saint Simon the Less, one of the 12 apostles, appears only in the biblical lists of Jesus' disciples. Called the Zealot by Luke and called the Cananaean (Aramaic for "zealot") by Matthew and Mark, he may have originally belonged to the Zealots, an extremist group (possibly called the Sicarri) opposed to Roman rule in Palestine. Feast day: May 10 (Eastern); Oct. 28 (Western; with Saint Jude).

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Saint Simon

Catholic Information

The name of Simon occurs in all the passages of the Gospel and Acts, in which a list of the Apostles is given. To distinguish him from St. Peter he is called (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18) Kananaios, or Kananites, and Zelotes (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). Both surnames have the same signification and are a translation of the Hebrew qana (the Zealous). The name does not signify that he belonged to the party of Zealots, but that he had zeal for the Jewish law, which he practised before his call. Jerome and others wrongly assumed that Kana was his native place; were this so, he should have been called Kanaios. The Greeks, Copts, and Ethiopians identify him with Nathanael of Cana; the first-mentioned also identify him with the bridegroom of the marriage of Cana, while in the "Chronicon paschale" and elsewhere he is identified with Simon Clopas.

The Abyssinians accordingly relate that he suffered crucifixion as the Bishop of Jerusalem, after he had preached the Gospel in Samaria. Where he actually preached the Gospel is uncertain. Almost all the lands of the then known world, even as far as Britain, have been mentioned; according to the Greeks, he preached on the Black Sea, in Egypt, Northern Africa, and Britain, while, according to the Latin "Passio Simonis et Judae" -- the 7author of which was (Lipsius maintains) sufficiently familiar with the history of the Parthian Empire in the first century -- Simon laboured in Persia, and was there martyred at Suanir. However, Suanir is probably to be sought in Colchis. According to Moses of Chorene, Simon met his death in Weriosphora in Iberia; according to the Georgians, he preached in Colchis. His place of burial is unknown.

Concerning his relics our information is as uncertain as concerning his preaching. From Babylon to Rome and Toulouse we find traces of them; at Rome they are venerated under the Altar of the Crucifixion in the Vatican. His usual attribute is the saw, since his body was said to have been sawed to pieces, and more rarely the lance. He is regarded as the patron of tanners. In the Western Church he is venerated together with Jude (Thaddaeus); in the East separately. The Western Church keeps his feast on 28 October; the Greeks and Copts on 10 May.

Publication information Written by Klemens Löffler. Transcribed by Gerald Morine. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

Apostle Simon the Zealot

Orthodox Information

(This information may not be of the scholastic quality of the other articles in BELIEVE. Since few Orthodox scholarly articles have been translated into English, we have had to rely on Orthodox Wiki as a source. Since the Wikipedia collections do not indicate the author's name for articles, and essentially anyone is free to edit or alter any of their articles (again, without any indication of what was changed or who changed it), we have concerns. However, in order to include an Orthodox perspective in some of our subject presentations, we have found it necessary to do this. At least until actual scholarly Orthodox texts are translated from the Greek originals!)

The holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostle Simon the Zealot was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, referenced in Matthew 10:2-4 and other places in Holy Scripture. His feast day is May 10.


Simon was born in Cana of Galilee and was one of the Twelve Great Apostles. He was the bridegroom at the wedding feast where Christ changed the water into wine (John 2:1-11). Because of that miracle, St. Simon left his home, parents and bride to follow Christ. After Pentecost, he preached the Gospel in Mauritania in Africa.

He ended his missionary work in Georgia. St. Simon was tortured and crucified by the pagans in Abkhazia.


Troparion (Tone 3)

O holy apostle Simon,
entreat the merciful God,
to grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.

Kontakion (Tone 2)

Let us all bless the eloquent Simon in praise,
who sowed the doctrines of wisdom in the hearts of the faithful;
for he now stands before the throne of glory
and rejoices with the angels,
as he prays for us all unceasingly.


St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid

External links

Apostle Simon Zealotes (OCA)
Simon the Zealot & Apostle (GOARCH)
The Holy Apostle Simon, the Zealot (Prologue of Ohrid)

Simon the Canaanite (Zealot)

Coptic Orthodox Information

Yet another faithful disciples about whom very little has been recorded in Scripture is Simon the Canaanite (Mark 3:18; Matthew 10:4) or Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). The two words "Canaanite" and "Zealot" mean the same thing. "Canaanite" is a Hebrew designation and "Zealot" is a Greek term. As a result the NIV in its translation has "Zealot" in all four places.

Characteristics of This Disciple

J.B. Phillips in his translation of the New Testament in each of the four lists calls Simon "Simon the Patriot." The term designates him as a member of a political party. A "zealot" was a patriotic Jew willing to rebel against the Roman government. Their goal was to deliver Judea from the Roman servitude and drive the Roman legions from the country. This party had been organized by a rabid revolutionary, Judas of Galilee, about 20 years before Jesus began his public ministry. It had become an underground movement that was ruthless and violent. Its terrorist program of murder and sabotage did not free the country but resulted in acts of revenge by the Roman officials.

Perhaps Simon initially came to Jesus because he saw in Christ the power his group needed to successfully drive the Romans out. For many Jews, the Messiah was no longer a spiritual Savior but an earthly Conqueror. Since a zealot was a fanatic and eventually resorted to violence, Simon would have left this cause when he gave up all to follow Jesus. Jesus preached a message of nonviolence (Matthew 5:39, 43-44; 26:52). Simon was transformed by the Jesus and his message. He was still a Patriot who was willing to work and fight, but now the fight was against the forces of Satan and the kingdom for which he worked belonged to God. Throughout history the church has suffered from fanaticism. At first the church was persecuted, then it became the persecutor. Misguided fanatics, rather than helping, have done great harm to the cause of Christ. Our political concerns dare never overshadow our Savior nor cloud his message. There is little that we can be certain of when it comes to Simon. This much we do know - Simon, along with the other apostles witnessed the miracles and teachings of Jesus and the miracle of his Resurrection. They were with him at the Last Passover and in the Garden of Gethsemane. They were present at the time Jesus appeared to Thomas. All but Judas Iscariot were listed as receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and all were sent out as witnesses of the Gospel of Christ throughout the earth (Acts 1:8, 13; 2:1-4). Outside of Scripture, it is claimed that Simon was a determined missionary who preached principally in Mesopotamia, including Parthia and Babylon. Eusebius in his Church History names Simon as one of the missionaries "beyond the Ocean to the isles called the Britannia Isles." This happened after preaching in Egypt and Africa.

The traditions of the early church report he met a martyr's death in Persia, where he and others were sawed in half.

Simon is represented by a fish - he was a fisher of men - resting on top of a book which indicates the gospel he preached. Sometimes he is represented by a saw because one tradition says he was cut in two during a time of persecution.

James F. Korthals

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