(Welcome to our Saint of the Day series! Each weekday, we present you with an excerpt from Fr. George Poulos' Orthodox Saints series, published by Holy Cross Orthodox Press. Today we commemorate St. Titus, whose account is found in Volume 3 of the series.)
If a man is known by the company he keeps, then a man called Titus could be remembered for all time solely for the reason that he enjoyed the confidence and close companionship of St. Paul, considered to be the greatest figure in Christianity. The true greatness of Titus remains obscured by the fact that he is traditionally called to mind as the traveling companion of St. Paul, but a closer look at the man reveals Titus to be much more than a peripatetic escort, content to stand in the shadow of the mighty Paul. In his prolonged lifetime, he evinced the attributes which had led Paul to single him out in the first place.
Born twelve years after the Savior whom he was to serve for nearly a century, Titus, according to tradition, came of royal lineage of the house of Minoa, king of the prominent and influential island of Crete, the Mediterranean citadel of ancient culture and civilization. When he was thirteen years old and immersed in the traditional studies, he had a dream in which he was told his education would avail him naught if he failed to discover that the salvation of his soul was his true purpose in life. Seven years later, when Jesus of Nazareth was but a year away from His crucifixion, Titus had another dream in which a voice instructed him to read in the holy Scriptures the passage from Isaiah, which reads, “Ye isles, keep a feast to me. Israel is saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; they shall not be ashamed nor confounded anymore.
Titus, oblivious to his destiny with divinity, saw as the key from the Scripture the word salvation and, after discussing the matter with his uncle, then ruler of of the island of Crete, was given permission to leave the isle and seek out the New Faith which the ministry of Jesus Christ was bringing to the world. With sublime anticipation he journeyed to the Holy City of Jerusalem with a glorious feeling that something wonderful was going to happen to him, and, indeed, something wonderful did happen. He met Jesus Christ.
From that grand moment onward, Titus pledged himself to a lifetime service to the Lord and forthwith plunged himself into that task with such boundless enthusiasm that he caught the eye of St. Paul and was beckoned into a missionary life for the Messiah that stands forever in ecclesiastical history as the most important and, certainly, the most spectacularly successful crusade for Jesus, a campaign which assured the permanence of Christianity. Paul and Titus, lacking the legions of Alexander the Great or the elephants of Hannibal, went forth into the vast reaches of Asia Minor and brought to multitudes not the yoke of oppression but the sweet victory of the spirit of Jesus Christ.
Titus had witnessed the coming of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost, and although he was only one out of a small army of one hundred twenty apostles chosen to spread the Gospel throughout the known world, his stature was such that Paul, the mightiest convert of them all, preferred his company above all the rest. Their teamwork in the staggering logistics of converting entire nations remains to this day a marvel of human excellence and perseverance. They shaped the course of mankind as no other duo in history, and without the success of their mission the earth would doubtless orbit in spiritual weightlessness.
At Paul’s suggestion, Titus went to his native Crete alone, there to promote the establishment of houses of worship and to provide the necessary personnel for the maintenance of a cohesive Christian Church to serve the needs of all the people. Titus rejoined Paul in Greece, where once again they became the most formidable pair to tread the path of righteousness. In due course, they were separated and the beloved Paul met a martyr’s death in Rome at the hands of the tyrant Nero.
Conversely, Titus lived to the ripe age of ninety-five, long enough to see himself honored many times over. In walking with Paul he had walked with God. He died on August 25, 107.
Text from Fr. George Poulos' Orthodox Saints. Image from Wikipedia.