The Catholic Defender: St. Philip, Apostle and Friend Of Jesus Christ


St. Philip was one of the original twelve Apostles who grew up in Bethsaida on the Lake Genesareth (John 1:44). He was raised around the fishing industry and he was very close to the brothers Simon and Andrew the sons of Bar-Jona (House of Bar-Jona) and James and John who were the sons of Zebedee (Matthew 4:21). St. Philip as a boy learned the trade of a fisherman who spent most his early life fishing on the boats constructed for heavy catches. He was strong in his Jewish up-bringing as was common to the environment. He was very familiar with the local Synagogue and family life.

Through his preparation as a child, St. Philip was ready to follow the King of the Jews as Jesus would give him the call to follow him (John 1:43). It is from tradition that St. Philip was an early follower of St. John the Baptist and was present when Jesus came walking by. St. John the Baptist recognized his cousin saying, "Behold, the Lamb of God"! This had a great impact on St. Philip.

St. Philip would be responsible for introducing Jesus to St. Bartholomew (Nathaniel) and St. Thomas who were companions. Bringing people to Jesus would become the way of life as Jesus would make them fishers of men and founders of the Catholic Faith. Jesus would be their teacher for three years during Jesus public Ministry. In the Synoptic Gospels, St. Philip is named with the the Twelve (Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:14-19, and Luke 6:13-16).

St. John speaks of St. Philip in some of the major events of Jesus preaching to the people. St. Philip was at the Wedding feast of Cana when Jesus performed His first public miracle changing the water into wine (John 2:1-12) Before a great multitude, John 6:5-7 States, "Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little."

St. Philip here clearly was being the realist, but he was not expecting what Jesus would do before this massive crowd with two fish and five loaves of bread. Who would have known what Jesus was prepared to do? The feeding of five thousand would lead to Jesus Bread of Life discourse in John 6. Also St. Philip witnessed Jesus walking on the water on lake Capernaum. It was dark, a strong wind was developing when Jesus just suddenly came upon them about 3-4 miles out into the lake. St. John writes how they were frightened! That is an amazing scene and it is not surprising they thought Jesus was a ghost (Matthew 14:26).

John 12:20-23 states, "Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Beth-saida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified."

The reality of Jesus purpose is coming to fulfillment. For St. Philip this would be crushing to have witnessed all the things Jesus said and did, the miracles and signs given, he loved Jesus as did the Apostles. Jesus told the Apostles of his going to Jerusalem to be handed over by the Jews to the Romans for crucifixion, but they really did not want Jesus to go there (Matthew 16:21-23).

At the "Last Supper", St. Philip asked Jesus, "Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father."

After the establishment of the Eucharist and the new and everlasting Covenant that the Apostles were made priests to continue the work for the cup of Salvation, Jesus endured his bloody sweat, his passion and death which for a short time caused the disciples to scatter in hiding. St. Philip also went through this tragic event and finally, he is with the Apostles gathered together when Jesus appears before them (John 20:19-23)

St. Philip is present at the Ascension of Jesus and present to replace Judas choosing Matthias (Acts 1:13). He was present with the Virgin Mary and the other Apostles in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles on Pentecost, and was present at the Council of Jerusalem in 49 A.D.

St. Luke gives the story of St. Philip baptizing the Ethiopian Eunuch, "But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is a desert road. And he rose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And he said, "How can I, unless some one guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the scripture which he was reading was this: "As a sheep led to the slaughter or a lamb before its shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken up from the earth." And the eunuch said to Philip, "About whom, pray, does the prophet say this, about himself or about some one else?" Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this scripture he told him the good news of Jesus. And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?" * Other ancient authorities add all or most of: And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus, and passing on he preached the gospel to all the towns till he came to Caesarea. Acts 8:26-40

According to tradition, St. Philip along with his sister, Mariamne and St. Batholomew traveled to Greece, Phrygia, and Syria. At the city of Azotus, Nikoklides, a local resident was cured of an eye affliction was then baptized along with her whole family.

Because of the acts of St. Philip, many were receiving baptism as he traveled with Mariamne to Syria, Asia Minor, Lydia, and Emessa undergoing many sufferings. They had been pelted with stones, placed in jail, tossed out of villages, the life of the Apostle Philip was hard but he endured it for love of Jesus

Upon arriving in the city of Phrygian Hieropolis, St. Philip walked among a city of pagan temples, there were snake worshipers one of which held a live snake noted for being huge, it was being worshiped as a god and St. Philip killed the serpent and healed many bitten by snakes. A young child had died and St. Philip was begged to come and see the child, the child was raised from the dead.

In the city of Hierapolis after a miraculous healing and the preaching of St. Philip, the wife of the proconsul (Amphipatos) of the city was converted to the infant Catholic Faith. The Proconsul took a dim view of that and with the urging of the pagan priests of the serpent, Amphipatos ordered the holy Apostles Philip and Bartholomew to be crucified.

St. Philip was crucified head down began preaching from the cross when an earthquake struck havoc among the pagans as St. Philip prayed for those who crucified him and interceded for those in danger of the quake. The people were converted to Christ and demanded the Apostles be taken down, but St. Philip was near death. St. Bartholomew was taken down from the cross and actually served a short time as Bishop but at Armenia, he was skinned alive, crucified, and beheaded. Miriamne would also continue to preach until her death at Lykaonia.

It was reported on Turkish news (Anadolu) on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 that archaeologists discovered the "Tomb of St. Philip" through excavations close to the Turkish city of Denizli. Writings on the wall of the tomb identified the person was the martyred Apostle of Jesus. The Italian archaeologist, Professor Francesco D'Andria discovered an ancient church where the tomb is located.

In pictures of St. Philip, you will see the symbols of the Latin cross, two loaves of bread, a basket full of bread, a spear with patriarchal cross and a carpenter's square that depicts his building the infant Catholic Faith.

St. Philip is the patron Saint of hatters and his Feast day is May 3

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