Holy Apostles of the Seventy and Deacons: Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon and Parmenas

By Patricia Kasten | The Compass | July 31, 2023

First century — Feast: July 28

On July 28, in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches, as well as Byzantine Catholic churches, is the feast of four of the first deacons. The full title of the feast day is “Holy Apostles of the Seventy and Deacons: Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon and Parmenas.”

There were seven deacons appointed by the Apostles as the early church in Jerusalem was growing. There was so much work to be done that the 12 Apostles had little time to preach the word of God.

So, as we read in Acts 6:1-15, “the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Elect from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

There were seven deacons chosen: Stephen, Philip, Nicholas, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon and Parmenas. Each of them has a separate feast day, but, in the Eastern tradition, perhaps because of where they served, these four are honored together on July 28.

The four are considered to have been among the 70 disciples whom the Lord sent out in twos (Lk 10:1-20). While most Roman Catholics may not know these 70 individuals’ names, the Eastern tradition, dating to at least the third century, names all 70. Surprisingly, the list includes Matthias, who took the place of Judas Iscariot, and two evangelists, Luke and Mark. While we in the Western church call these 70 (or 72 in some translations) “disciples,” the Eastern church calls them “apostles.”

We all know that the deacon Stephen became the first martyr, but not as many of us know that Nicanor was martyred on the same day as Stephen. His feast day, in the West, is celebrated on Dec. 28, one day after Stephen’s.

Prochorus, who later became bishop of Nicomedia (now in modern Turkey), has been called a companion of St. Peter. After the end of the earthly life of the Blessed Virgin, Prochorus was also said to have traveled with John the Evangelist and was banished with him to the island of Patmos. There, Prochorus may have helped John write down the Book of Revelation, that is most often attributed to the apostle evangelist. Prochorus died a martyr in Antioch.

Timon traveled to the island of Cyprus. He later became bishop of an ancient city in Roman Arabia Petraea (the region of modern Saudi Arabia). He was martyred in that area.

Parmenas traditionally preached in Greek Macedonia. It is not clear if he was martyred or died of illness.

Wherever their later lives led them, we know that these four men, as well as the 70 disciples, were sent out to do the work of the Lord — just as all deacons and disciples do to this day.

Sources: Catholic Encyclopedia; oca.org; johnsanidopoulos.com and Antiochpatriarchate.org

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