Today the liturgical calendar of the Indian Orthodox Church commemorates the Apostle- St Simon the Zealot, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ!
Simon the Zealot (St. Luke 6:15, Acts of the Apostle 1:13) is also called Simon the “Canaanite” (St. Matthew 10:4, St. Mark 3:18). The word translated “Canaanite” is of Hebrew origin and means “zealot”.
Very little is known about St Simon the Zealot, however there are two traditions about him which are well known in sister Orthodox churches.
The traditions says that he was the bridegroom at the wedding at Cana where Lord Jesus Christ performed His first miracle. The sudden discovery of almost 180 gallons of really good wine from nothing, in a hopeless situation when the wine ran out, came like a stroke of lightning into Simon’s life. This event made a great impact on Simon’s thinking especially the political concepts that he and countrymen had envisioned for their nation! Simon was so impressed with Christ’s miracle that he became a zealous follower of Christ and hence the title of ‘the Zealot’ was ascribed to him.
The Coptic tradition also mentions of an interesting aspect- St Simon the Zealot was none other Nathaniel (though some other traditions mention that Bartholomew and Nathaniel are one and the same).
The Coptic synaxarium mentions that at the time of the slaughter of the children of Bethlehem by Herod, St Simon’s/Nathaniel’s mother hid him under a fig tree that was in her house. She nursed him during the night and hid him during the day, and continued to do so until the persecution of Herod died down. His mother did not tell him about this until he was fully grown and he never told anyone about this. When Jesus Christ revealed that to him, St Simon the Zealot realized that He was the omniscient God, bowed before him, and was obedient to Him. He believed, followed Him, and became one of His twelve disciples.
After St Simon the Zealot had received the grace of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he preached in Africa, and on the islands by the shore of the Red Sea. Again traditions vary on how St Simon attained martyrdom, some state he was crucified and in some artwork we see him with a saw as some declare that he was sawn in half.
May the prayers of the Apostle- St Simon the Zealot be a refuge for us and help us to remain firm in the True Faith!
‘O ye kingdom sons,
Prophets and apostles bright,
Pray that we may ne’er
Sink in the deep sea of sin’- Barekmor (Liturgical hymn commemorating the saints; Malayalam- ‘Pavana nibimaare..”)
(Icon taken from Theotokos.org)