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Important Christians

Anthony of Padua

Born Ferdinand, St. Anthony, who was the son of a Portuguese knight, became at 16 an Augustinian friar at São Vincente. In the course of studies at Coimbra, he developed a passion for missionary work and joined in 1220 the Franciscans. He was so ill on the trip to Morocco that he had to return to Europe and was unable to preach among the Muslims as he wished. He was a participant in the General Chapter of Assisi the following year, after which he was sent to the hermitage of São Paolo near Forlì. At his ordination, he preached so eloquently that he was sent to teach theology at Bologna. He also began to preach against heretics in northern Italy. Some say that Francis himself ordered Anthony to teach and preach. Anthony, who also taught at Montpelier, preached so well against the Albigenses in France that he earned the nickname, "the hammer of heretics." In 1227, Anthony was chosen Provincial of northern Italy; he was also chosen to travel to Rome with the delegation that presented Francis' rule and testament to the pope. Anthony, whose knowledge of the the Bible was considerable, worked to help debtors and has been called an apostle to the poor. Slight in stature, strong and fearless, Anthony died of dropsy in 1231. Gregory IX canonized him the following year.

The Church of St. Anthony in Beyoglu neighborhood of Istanbul is one of best in town.


All we know of Barnabas is to be found in the New Testament. A Jew, born in Cyprus and named Joseph, he sold his property, gave the proceeds to the Apostles, who gave him the name Barnabas, and lived in common with the earliest converts to Christianity in Jerusalem. Originally a Levite, he is thought to have been a Hellenized Jew and to have been one of the Apostles of the 70(72). He persuaded the community there to accept Paul as a disciple, was sent to Antioch to look into the community there, and brought Paul there from Tarsus. With Paul he brought Antioch's donation to the Jerusalem community during a famine, and returned to Antioch with John Mark, his cousin. He is said to have been among the founders of the church in Antioch in Pisidia. He introduced Paul to the apostles after his conversion. The three went on a missionary journey to Cyprus, Perge (when John Mark went to Jerusalem), and Antioch in Pisidia, where they were so violently opposed by the Jews that they decided to preach to the pagans. Then they went on to Iconium (Konya) and Lystra in Lycaonia, where they were first acclaimed gods and then stoned out of the city, and then returned to Antioch.

When a dispute arose regarding the observance of the Jewish rites, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem, where, at a council, it was decided that pagans did not have to be circumcised to be baptized. On their return to Antioch, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark on another visitation to the cities where they had preached, but Paul objected because of John Mark's desertion of them in Perge. Paul and Barnabas parted, and Barnabas returned to Cyprus with Mark; nothing further is heard of him, though it is believed his rift with Paul was ultimately healed. Tradition has Barnabas preaching in Alexandria and Rome, the founder of the Cypriote Church, the Bishop of Milan (which he was not), and has him stoned to death at Salamis about the year 61. The apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas was long attributed to him, but modern scholarship now attributes it to a Christian in Alexandria between the years 70 and 100; the Gospel of Barnabas is probably by an Italian Christian who became a Mohammedan; and the Acts of Barnabas once attributed to John Mark are now known to have been written in the fifth century. His feast day is June 11.

He is traditionally considered the founder of the Cypriot church and to have been martyred at Salamis c. 61. Some say he founded the see of Milan. Tertullian says that Barnabas, not Paul, wrote the epistle to the Hebrews, and The Epistle of Barnabas is of unknown authorship.

Basil the Great

Basil the Great (c 330-379 CE) was a bishop of Caesarea (Kayseri), Doctor of the Church, and one of the three Cappadocian Fathers. He was born into the distinguished family of Basil the Elder and Emmelia in Pontus. He received the best education available, studying at Caesarea (Kayseri), Constantinople (Istanbul), and Athens. While at Athens, he met Gregory of Nazianzus, who would become for him a lifelong friend and another of the three Cappadocian Fathers, the third being Gregory of Nyssa. Basil traveled throughout Alexandria, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia observing hermits and formulating his own monastic rule, which was based on community life, liturgical prayer and manual labor. He later returned to Pontus, where he set up a monastery on the banks of the Iris River, thereby becoming the "Father of Greek Monasticism". Basil was ordained a presbyter in 364 and elected bishop of Caesarea (Kayseri) in 370. His most prominent dogmatic writings include a treatise on the Holy Spirit and Against Eunomius. Basil fought to uphold the Nicene Creed against Aryanism. He died on January 1, 379, just after he learned of the death of Valens, the Arian Emperor.

Gregory of Nyssa

St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 330-c. 395) was a younger sibling in a family that gave the church many years of service and at least five saints. Before entering the monastery of his brother, Basil the Great, Gregory was a rhetorician. He may have been married, although some scholars believe that his treatise On Virginity argues against that. He became bishop of Nyssa in Cappadocia c 371 or 372. Arians accused him of mismanagement and deposed him in 376. On the death of the Arian, Valens, two years later, he was restored to his see. He attended the first Council of Constantinople in 381, after which he traveled in Transjordan (Arabia) to settle disputes in the churches. During a trip to Jerusalem, he was forced to defend his Christology, although he was then and is now well-known for his Trinitarian theology. In 394, he attended a synod in Constantinople (Istanbul) and is thought to have died shortly after that when mention of him in church records ceases. His best-known works are the Catechetical Oration, The Life of Moses, and the Life of St. Macrina (his sister).


Peter was a simple, illiterate (Acts 4:13) Galilean fisherman, who worked together with his brother, Andrew. We can infer he was a married man, since it is recorded in Mark 1:29-31 that his mother-in-law's fever was miraculously healed by Jesus. He was also known as Simon or Cephas and his brother Saint Andrew the Apostle led him to Christ. Renamed "Peter" (rock) by Jesus to indicate that Peter would be the rock on which the Church would be built. Peter was the most enthusiastic and brave among the apostles. Jesus designated him as the leader of the apostles. Peter was a bishop and first Pope. With the order of Nero around AD 68 he was crucified head downward in Rome because he claimed he was not worthy to die in the same manner as Christ.

He carved a rock church in Antioch for the first time.

Peter has the Patronage against frenzy, bakers, butchers, clock makers, cobblers, Exeter College Oxford, feet problems, fever, fishermen, foot problems, harvesters, locksmiths, longevity, papacy, people named Peter Popes, Poznan Poland, Rome, shoemakers, Universal Church and watch makers.

His Feast days are; 29 June (feast of Peter and Paul), 22 February (feast of the Chair of Peter, emblematic of the world unity of the Church), 18 November (feast of the dedication of the Basilicas of Peter and Paul).


Philip was born in Bethsaida, Galilee. He may have been a disciple of John the Baptist and is mentioned as one of the Apostles in the lists of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and in Acts. Aside from the lists, he is mentioned only in John in the New Testament. He was called by Jesus Himself and brought Nathanael to Christ. Philip was present at the miracle of the loaves and fishes, when he engaged in a brief dialogue with the Lord, and was the Apostle approached by the Hellenistic Jews from Bethsaida to introduce them to Jesus. Just before the Passion, Jesus answered Philip's query to show them the Father, but no further mention of Philip is made in the New Testament beyond his listing among the Apostles awaiting the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room. According to tradition he preached in Greece and was crucified upside down at Hierapolis under Emperor Domitian (c.85 AD). His feast day is May 3.

Polycarp of Smyrna

Polycarp is said to have been among those converted by the Apostles, and to have been a disciple of St. John; on the other hand, his martyrdom took place c 155 AD. He thus represents the generation linking the age of the New Testament to that of the Apologists.

Polycarp's life is known mainly from the writings of his disciple Irenaeus of Lyons, made familiar to a wide audience by the extensive quotations in Eusebius. Irenaeus is depicted as the heir to the Johannine tradition; his uncompromising opposition to the heretic Marcion is equated with the evangelist's to Cerinthus. Polycarp was also a defender of the Johannine Easter date, and late in life made a visit to Rome for inconclusive talks on the subject with Pope Anicetus. Besides John, Polycarp was connected with another outstanding figure of the apostolic church: Ignatius of Antioch addressed an epistle to him.

Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna (modern Izmir) in western Asia Minor. Members of his flock wrote an extremely detailed account of their aged hierarchs martyrdom, one of the most famous documents to be passed down from the age of persecution.

There is a beautiful Church of Polycarp in Alsancak - Izmir.

Sources: Bible and Christian websites

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