Simon Zelotes the Apostle

Saint Simon “the Zealot”, Simon Kananites, or Simon Cananeus also “the Cananean” the Apostle (Simon was Hebrew for hearkening or listening; Kananite or Cananeus are both derived from the Hebrew root qana meaning the zealous; this is not a reference to Simon being from Cana !!)

Icon of Simon Zelotes the Apostle

Saint Simon Zelotes was one of the twelve apostles chosen and invested (ordained, See Mark 3:14) by Jesus. He was a Jewish merchant in the village of Capernaum which was on the north shore of the sea of Galilee. He was 28 years old when he was chosen and invested (ordained) by Christ. Simon was one of the most obscure of the Apostles. He is not to be confused with Simon Peter (see above) or Simon the Sorcerer (Simon Magus).

Eastern Orthodox Church tradition holds that it was Simon’s wedding that Christ and his disciples attended in Cana of Galilee in which Christ turned water in six stone jars to wine. He is called zealot because in seeing this miracle, Simon left his home, his parents and his bride and followed Christ. Note that in this period of time zealous meant that one had outspoken devotion to the risen Christ or was very zealous for keeping the Law of Moses (this should not be understood as a reference to the anti-Roman rule Jewish sect referred to as the Zealots).

Oral tradition says that after Pentecost, Simon the Zealot’s apostolic journeys took him to Egypt and then on to a place called Mauritania (which is on the western Atlantic coast of Africa), and that after evangelizing in Africa, Simon joined Jude in Persia and they journeyed to Armenia and/or Beirut, Lebanon, where Jude was martyred in A.D. 65. Simon is reported to have suffered martyrdom by crucifixion while he was serving as the Bishop of Jerusalem (after the martyrdom of James the Just, the brother of Jesus and the 1st Bishop of Jerusalem).