Meet Three of the Earliest Christians of Rome
Sts. Herodion, Asyncritus and Phlegon, pray for us!
Greet my relative Herodion. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon.―Romans 16:11a, 14a
When Paul wrote his Letter to the Romans, he had not yet actually been to Rome himself, but he seemed to know several Christians living there. The 16th chapter of this letter identifies over 20 individuals by name. Within this intriguing portion of the letter are mentioned St. Herodion, St. Asyncritus and St. Phlegon.
All that is known with confidence about these three men is that they were living in Rome near the time frame of A.D. 56–58, when it is calculated that Paul wrote the letter―and that Herodion was somehow related to Paul. Some sources hold that these three men had been among the 72 followers that Jesus had sent out in pairs, as explained in Luke 10. If true, then one can consider that perhaps Herodion, Asyncritus, and Phlegon helped bring the Faith to Rome.
The Acts of the Apostles offers another reasonable supposition of Herodion, Asyncritus and Phlegon. The 28th chapter shares how when Paul did finally get to Rome, he was a prisoner and was greeted by many Christians living in the surrounding area, their warm welcomes greatly lifting his spirits.
And thus we came to Rome. The brothers from there heard about us and came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul gave thanks to God and took courage. ―Acts 28:14b–15
It is reasonable that these three saints were with those who greeted Paul when he arrived in the city, helping to make his difficult situation more bearable. It is also feasible that they were among those who visited Paul during his house arrest in Rome.
Tradition tells that Herodion was helpful to Peter while in Rome and at some point became the Bishop of Tarsus (Turkey) and/or Patras (Greece). Some claim he was ultimately beheaded for his Christian beliefs. It is believed that Asyncritus became the Bishop of Hyrcania (an ancient region along the Caspian Sea) and that Phlegon was Bishop of Marathon in Thrace (Greece).
Bible Journaling with Sts. Herodion, Asyncritus and Phlegon
These three saints: Herodion, Asyncritus, and Phlegon are honored April 8 in the Roman Martyrology. Despite having so few details on their lives, we can trust that their acceptance of the Faith helped Christianity to take root in Rome. If you’d like to spend a few days mulling over the influence of these three holy ones, pull out a Bible, and study one passage a day. Try to imagine yourself in Rome with these men, reading Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Jot down a few notes if inspired; see if these three might shed a bit of new light on your understanding of the Early Church.
- Day 1) Romans 1:7
- Day 2) Romans 16:3–16
- Day 3) Acts 28:11–16