According to tradition and the information of the New Testament ( 2 Corinthians , Galatians, 2 Timothy , Titus, and other Epistles of St Paul), the venerable bishop Titus was of Greek origin. His parents were nobles from Crete. Soon Titus became the disciple and follower of the Apostle of Nations. He followed Paul in his ecumenical and missionary journeys. As a matter of fact Apostle Paul took Titus to Jerusalem to attend the proceedings of the Apostolic Synod. Titus gained invaluable experience from this Synod. Soon afterwards, around 55-56 AD, while Paul was preaching at Ephesus, Titus was sent to Corinth to assist the local church with matters of utmost importance. Having fulfilled his task, he left for Philippi where he met his master. Titus gave a full account to Paul of his journey to Corinth. In the fall of the same year, Titus was dispatched to Corinth once more to conclude his teaching. Apostle Paul was very proud of his pupil. In Corinthians B' Paul refers to Titus as "partner" and "fellow helper" to his missionary work.
Titus proved one of the best disciples and partners to Paul. The Apostle entrusted him with the organisation of the Cretan Church and appointed him bishop. Titus was installed (took office) in Crete between 62-64 AD, i.e. following the release of Paul from Rome, where he had been brought to stand trial as reactionist. Although the Gospel had already been delivered to Crete by Cretan missionaries, yet certain schism matters needed immediate attention. In addition, the organisation of the Church was deficient. Christian communities suffered internal conflicts on account of false teaching. Thus, the task of Titus was very delicate and difficult. In spite of this Titus managed to resolve the conflict and restore peace among the contending parties. As an instrument of divine justice, Titus distinguished himself as a paragon of piety and an eradicator of impiety. The influence of St. Titus was such that a great many heretics and idolaters revoked their heresies or abandoned their idols to become followers of the Cretan Saint. According to legend, St. Titus, the agent of Paul, died at Gortyna of Crete at the age of 94, after many years of service to God. During the fourth century the Church declared Titus saint and since then his memory is celebrated on August 25. In addition, he was recognised as patron of Crete.
During the 6th century a wooden roofed basilica was built in his name at the place were his holy relics had been deposited. However, when Crete was conquered by the Saracens (Arabs) in 824 AD, the basilica was demolished and since then it remains in ruins. The saint's skull was salvaged by devout Christians. Following the recovery of Crete by the Byzantine general Nicephoros Phokas in 961 AD., a stately Metropolitan church was erected in the town of Heraklion (Chandax) where all holy relics were kept. When the town of Heraklion fell to the Turks in 1669, the saint's skull was transported to Venice and deposited in the Basilica of St. Mark. The skull of the saint was returned to Crete following a series of negotiations with the representatives of the western church which lasted from 1957 to 19G6. On the morning of May 15, 1966 hundreds of devout Christians gathered at the port of Heraklion to honour the arrival of the holy relics. It was an extraordinary experience for all Christians. The Church celebrated the event with a stately joint liturgy at the Cathedral. The memorable Archbishop of Crete, Eugenios, eulogised the saint's skull as "to dokimwvtero upevr crusivon kai timiwvteron livqwn polutelwvn qhsaurwvn". Since then the relics have been a blessing for the Church of Crete.
In conclusion, Apostle Titus invites us all to become the disciples of true teachers and with the grace of God turn fervent missionaries in our land. In this day and age thrive heresies and false religions. Their teachings have a charming effect on Cretans, particularly on the young. We only need assimilate the teachings of Apostle Titus and follow his example in order to avert the danger of falsehood.
from The Orthodox Messenger, v.
8(7/8), July/Aug 1997
published bi-monthly by the SA Central Youth
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