St. Matthias ― The Apostle Who Replaced Judas Iscariot

St. Matthias is remembered on May 14 in the Catholic Church and he is the patron of tailors and carpenters.

Serra Brothers workshop, “Saint Matthias,” c. 1360
Serra Brothers workshop, “Saint Matthias,” c. 1360 (photo: Public Domain)

Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles. ―Acts 1:26

The betrayal and death of Judas caused severe disappointment and hurt to the apostles, leaving an uncomfortable void. Recalling a prophecy from the Book of Psalms, “May another take his office,” Peter felt compelled to replace the lost apostle and thereby restore the number of apostles to twelve.

It was during the days of waiting ― the days between Jesus’ ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit ― that Peter spoke to a group of about 120 disciples in Jerusalem, sharing his thoughts on the need to replace Judas with someone who knew Jesus well ― someone who had been an active and committed disciple all the way from the time of Jesus’ baptism until his ascension into heaven.

This group of first Christians carefully pondered the situation and suggested two names: Matthias and Joseph Barsabbas (July 20). They prayed intensely for heavenly guidance and then proceeded to utilize an ancient Jewish practice, a custom believed to reveal the authentic desire of God ― drawing lots. One common way of drawing lots at that time was to write the name of each candidate on a stone and then put all of the stones into a container. Someone would shake the container until one of the stones flew out ― signifying the newly “elected.” It was probably through this particular system of “drawing lots” that Matthias became the replacement for Judas.

Unfortunately, very little was written about Matthias in the Bible. However, a few intriguing details ― some conflicting ― were written down by some early Church historians. For example, it was recorded that Matthias was a popular preacher on the rejection of earthly desires. He supposedly spent much time stressing the impossibility of serving both God and indulgent pleasure. Various traditions have Matthias preaching the Gospel in different locations; some sources tell of him preaching in Judea, where many claim he was ultimately stoned to death and/or beheaded.


A Novena of Days with St. Matthias the Apostle

St. Matthias is remembered on May 14 in the Catholic Church and he is the patron of tailors and carpenters. It may be a challenge to come up with a strong picture of this replacement apostle-saint, but by pondering the passages below, a more focused picture emerges. Consider spending a novena of days with St. Matthias by reading and taking notes on the nine passages. Be sure to ask St. Matthias to pray for a special intention of yours during the nine days!

  • Day 1) Acts 1:15–26
  • Day 2) Psalm 69:26
  • Day 3) Psalm 109:8
  • Day 4) Acts 2:1–4
  • Day 5) Acts 2:42–43
  • Day 6) Acts 4:32–35
  • Day 7) Acts 5:12–16
  • Day 8) Acts 5:17–29
  • Day 9) Acts 6:1–4