Today the church remembers a saint who was a victor (or victim?) of chance: Saint Matthias, Apostle and Patron Saint of One-Hit Wonders.
We know absolutely nothing about St. Matthias except for the brief account in Luke’s Acts of the Apostles where he is chosen by throwing dice as a replacement for Judas in the pantheon of Apostles. The early church felt it was necessary to restore the ranks to twelve, mirroring the tribes of ancient Israel. One wonders why they didn’t just incorporate Mary Magdalene into that position, as she was already performing the duties and fulfilled Peter’s qualifications for the role as a “witness to the resurrection,” but whatever. Patriarchy wins again, I guess.
When considering who should replace Judas, two disciples were put forth that supposedly fit the bill: Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias, both who were supposedly part of the seventy sent out by Jesus when he was alive. The dice landed on Matthias.
And that, Beloved, is all we know about him.
There is apocryphal lore regarding Matthias, though there is some confusion as to whether the authors of these stories meant to reference the Apostle Matthew instead. St. Clement quotes a second-century Gospel of Matthias, though we have no text of this Gospel book. Other works from the 6th Century and later expand upon the lore, often pairing Matthias (or is it Matthew?) with the Apostle Andrew in spreading the Gospel in hostile lands.
The one thing all the tales do agree on is that he was a martyr for the faith in the end. His crest exemplifies this thought, often depicting a double-headed axe resting on the scriptures.
It’s unknown why today was chosen as his feast day back in the eleventh century. Rome has him commemorated on May 14th to avoid the feast falling in the season of Lent, but Lutherans have no qualms lifting up a martyr in the penitential season. After all, though he witnessed the resurrection, he did so with his life on the line, which seems to fit both Lent and Easter sensibilities.
St. Matthias is a reminder for me, and should be for the whole church, that sometimes things just happen and they don’t need a Divine reason behind it to be significant. I’m not one to say the Holy Spirit plays dice, and in all honesty I’d rather have had Mary rightfully acknowledged as the true Apostle she was, but I’m happy to give Matthias a nod today because, whether he wanted it or not, the lot fell to him.
-historical bits from Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals & Commemorations
-icon written by Noah Guitierrez