Holy Apostle Aristobulus, First Bishop of Britain

Most English school children know that Saint George is England's patron saint, but few (except for those living near St. Albans) would know that Saint Alban was Britain's first martyr. How many of us Orthodox Christians would be able to name Britain’s first bishop? 

On 15 March (which is 28 March on the New Calendar) we commemorate Saint Aristobulus the first bishop of Britain who was numbered among the Seventy Apostles sent out by Christ to preach the Gospel: 'After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come' (Luke 10:1).

Saint Aristobulus was the brother of the Holy Apostle Barnabas and a companion of the Apostle Paul who sent him to Britain to spread the Gospel of Christ. Like his teacher Saint Paul, Saint Aristobulus endured much suffering for the faith of Christ, being beaten, dragged through the streets and tortured by the pagans. Nevertheless, he endured until the end and founded churches, ordained priests and sowed the seeds of the Orthodox Christian faith that were to bear even greater fruit many centuries later with the arrival of Saint Augustine in the sixth century. Saint Aristobulus is believed to have reposed in peace.

Saint Aristobulus is commemorated on 15 March, 31 October and on 4 January together with all the other Apostles of the Seventy. On 31 October we also commemorate Saints Spyridon and Nikodem the Prosphora-bakers of the Kiev Caves Lavra; these two monastic saints are depicted on the icon below together with Saint Aristobulus. The icon is venerated at the Shrine Church of Saint Edward the Martyr and was painted by the sisters of the Saint Elizabeth Convent, Etna


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