The Catholic Defender: St Rufus, Companion and friend of St. Ignatius
Romans 16:13, St. Rufus was mentioned by St. Paul as one "eminent in the Lord" which might infer that at the time of this writing, St. Rufus was under instruction to the holy Catholic Faith and an early companion of St. Paul.
It appears that Rufus was originally from Philippi but later settled in Antioch to join the early Christian community there.
Something else I find interesting looking at Romans 16:13, St. Paul refers to St. Rufus's mother as well as his own?
"Greet Rufus, eminent in the Lord, also his mother and mine." What does this specifically mean? Who is St. Paul and Rufus mother that is to be greeted?
St. Paul's epistle to the Romans was actually written in the winter of 56-57 A.D. while he was still in Corinth.
Obviously, St. Paul and Rufus were not really brothers coming from the same mother? In fact, we know from St. Mark (Mark 15:21), that Rufus was the son of Simon of Cyrene (known for helping Jesus with carrying the cross) and brother of Alexander. "And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyre'ne, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross."
So the mother of Rufus and St. Paul perhaps is not literal as their birth mother but maybe their spiritual mother? Now, who could this possibly be? The only possible person that I can think of might be the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ who is regarded as Mother of all Christians.
Revelation 12:17 St. John refers to Mary, "But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea."
St. Rufus as a young person, would remember the story of Jesus on the cross giving his Mother to St. John, "So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home." John 19:25-27
Could St. Paul's greeting to their mother really be an inference to the Virgin Mary who was also known at this time to be with St. John living in Ephesus? Before she went back to Jerusalem where she would ultimately be assumed into Heaven body and soul? Very interesting indeed.
It would be in Antioch where St. Rufus enjoined St. Ignatius of Antioch who was a follower of St. John the Apostle and appointed as bishop there by St. Peter.
St. Polycarp, writing to the Philippians, mentions St. Rufus along with St. Zosimus, St. Paul, and St. Ignatious, "I exhort you all, therefore, to yield obedience to the word of righteousness, and to exercise all patience, such as you have seen [set] before your eyes, not only in the case of the blessed Ignatius, and Zosimus, and Rufus, but also in others among yourselves, and in Paul himself, and the rest of the apostles."
With this exhortation, St. Polycarp offers this encouragement, "Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, 'firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,' helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man."
St. Rufus was one recognized by St. Polycarp for being obedient and patient in following the Way of the Lord.
During the aftermath of the great persecution against the Christians by the Emperor Trajan, St. Rufus and his Companions, St. Zosimus and Bishop Ignatius of Antioch, were taken to Rome where they were made sport of in the Colosseum.
St. Rufus was like the pre-warmup for the crowd's blood frenzy as they were promised these Christians would entertain the masses. The holy demeanor of St. Rufus and Zosimus reduced the spectacle to silence as their bravery was seen before all. They were condemned to death after refusing to serve Rome's Pagan gods and would not reject the one true God, Jesus Christ.
Two days later, St. Ignatius of Antioch would follow after them, to join them in the heavenly realm. St. Rufus feast day is 18 December, St. Ignatius feast day is October 17.
Prayer of St. Polycarp:
Lord, almighty God, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have come to the knowledge of yourself, God of angels, of powers, of all creation, of all the race of saints who live in your sight, I bless you for judging me worthy of this day, this hour, so that in the company of the martyrs I may share the cup of Christ, your annointed one, and so rise again to eternal life in soul and body, immortal through the power of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among the martyrs in your presence today as a rich and pleasing sacrifice. God of truth, stranger to falsehood, you have prepared this and revealed it to me and now you have fulfilled your promise. I praise you for all things, I bless you, I glorify you through the eternal priest of heaven, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. Through him be glory to you, together with him and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.