diacre 'Apôtre de la Palestine' (✝ 80)
Il fut l'un des sept premiers diacres ordonnés par les Apôtres. Il évangélisa la Samarie et baptisa le fonctionnaire de la reine d'Ethiopie après lui avoir annoncé la Bonne Nouvelle de Jésus-Christ, serviteur prophétisé par Isaïe.
Livre des actes des apôtres Ac 6
01 En ces jours-là, comme le nombre des disciples augmentait, les frères de langue grecque récriminèrent contre ceux de langue hébraïque : ils trouvaient que, dans les secours distribués quotidiennement, les veuves de leur groupe étaient désavantagées.
02 Les Douze convoquèrent alors l'assemblée des disciples et ils leur dirent : « Il n'est pas normal que nous délaissions la parole de Dieu pour le service des repas.
03 Cherchez plutôt, frères, sept d'entre vous, qui soient des hommes estimés de tous, remplis d'Esprit Saint et de sagesse, et nous leur confierons cette tâche.
04 Pour notre part, nous resterons fidèles à la prière et au service de la Parole. »
05 La proposition plut à tout le monde, et l'on choisit : Étienne, homme rempli de foi et d'Esprit Saint, Philippe, Procore, Nicanor, Timon, Parménas et Nicolas, un païen originaire d'Antioche converti au judaïsme.
06 On les présenta aux Apôtres, et ceux-ci, après avoir prié, leur imposèrent les mains.
Livre des Actes des apôtres Ac 8
04 Ceux qui s'étaient dispersés allèrent répandre partout la Bonne Nouvelle de la Parole.
05 C'est ainsi que Philippe, l'un des Sept, arriva dans une ville de Samarie, et là il proclamait le Christ.
06 Les foules, d'un seul cœur, s'attachaient à ce que disait Philippe, car tous entendaient parler des signes qu'il accomplissait, ou même ils les voyaient.
Philippe se mit en marche. Or, un Éthiopien, un eunuque, haut fonctionnaire de Candace, reine d'Éthiopie, administrateur de tous ses trésors, était venu à Jérusalem pour adorer Dieu.
28 Il en revenait, assis dans son char, et lisait le prophète Isaïe.
29 L'Esprit du Seigneur dit à Philippe : « Avance, et rejoins ce char. »
30 Philippe s'approcha en courant, et il entendit que l'homme lisait le prophète lsaïe ; alors il lui demanda : « Comprends-tu vraiment ce que tu lis ? »
31 L'autre lui répondit : « Comment pourrais-je comprendre s'il n'y a personne pour me guider ? » Il invita donc Philippe à monter et à s'asseoir à côté de lui.
Commémoraison de saint Philippe, un des Sept choisis par les Apôtres pour les aider dans leur ministère. Il convertit à la foi du Christ l’eunuque, ministre de Candace, reine d’Éthiopie et le baptisa, puis annonça l’Évangile dans toutes les cités qu’il traversait jusqu’à Césarée, où il repose, selon la tradition.
Saint Philippe le Diacre
Un des premiers diacres de l’Église
Fête le 6 juin
† Ier siècle
Autre graphie : Philippe le Diacre ou l’Évangéliste
Philippe, surnommé « l’Évangéliste » à cause du zèle avec lequel il prêcha la foi, fut l’un des sept premiers diacres de l’Église chrétienne, chargés de surveiller la distribution des aumônes aux chrétiens pauvres de Jérusalem. Il convertit Simon le Magicien (ou le Mage). Il serait mort martyr à Tralles, en Lydie (auj. Aydin, vallée du Méandre).
On a longtemps confondu ce saint avec Philippe l’apôtre. On peut néanmoins penser que lui et l’apôtre Philippe ne font qu’une seule et même personne bien que ce ne soit pas l’opinion la plus répandue. Mais dès les premiers temps, l’identification a été faite par quelques écrivains chrétiens. Polycrate, évêque d’Éphèse au IIe siècle, nous informe que Philippe, « un des Douze » fut enterré à Hiérapolis en même temps que ses deux filles vierges et qu’une troisième de ses filles fut enterrée à Éphèse (Il avait quatre filles vierges qui possédaient le don de prophétie). Il est peu probable que les deux Philippe aient eu des filles et pas de garçons, quatre prophétesses dans un cas et au moins une dans l’autre. Que Polycrate n’ait fait aucune mention de la quatrième fille peut s’expliquer si elle était morte ou avait quitté la maison avant que son père ait lui-même quitté la Palestine. Une tradition romaine du IIIe siècle localise l’Évangéliste et ses filles à Hiérapolis. Une autre tradition mentionne la ville de Tralles (auj. Aydin en Turquie), distante de Hiérapolis d’une vingtaine de kilomètres.
Hiérapolis était proche d’Éphèse où saint Jean écrivit son évangile, texte dans lequel Philippe joue un rôle important. Il mourut probablement à Césarée. Le martyrium de Saint-Philippe à Hiérapolis fut élevé au Ve siècle à la mémoire du saint, mort en 87 ; l’actuelle ville de Pamukkale, dans la vallée du Méandre, s’est développée à proximité des ruines de la cité romaine de Hiérapolis.
Philippe apparaît dans les Actes des Apôtres, au moment de l’élection des sept Diacres : Philippe vient en second après Etienne (Ac 6:1-6).
Au chapitre 21:8, l’auteur des Actes donne à ce même Philippe le titre d’évangéliste, sans doute pour le distinguer de Philippe l’Apôtre.
Philippe, le Diacre, eut une grande activité dans la première évangélisation.
Après le martyre d’Etienne, la persécution le fit quitter Jérusalem et il alla à Samarie (Ac 8:5,) et c’est là qu’il convertit entre autres un certain Simon, magicien de son état et qui, ensuite, crut possible d’acheter aux Apôtres le pouvoir d’imposer les mains pour conférer l’Esprit Saint.
De là vient le mot de «simonie», qui dans l’Histoire de l’Eglise, a désigné l’erreur, malheureusement fréquente, qui poussa certains personnages à acheter des charges ecclésiastiques au lieu d’en recevoir la mission par l’Eglise.
Sévèrement admonesté par saint Pierre, Simon demanda humblement qu’il lui fût pardonné.
Quant à Philippe, il fut invité par un ange à retrouver sur la route de Jérusalem à Gaza un voyageur illustre : l’eunuque de la reine d’Ethiopie. L’épisode est merveilleux (Ac 8:26-40).
Cet eunuque est le premier baptisé de la Gentilité (car il était «païen», c’est-à-dire non Juif). Et c’est certainement cela qui rapprocha l’apôtre Paul, désormais converti et devenu «apôtre des Gentils», de Philippe, car on voit Paul demeurer quelques jours chez Philippe (Ac 21:8).
C’est là que Luc mentionne les quatre filles de Philippe, auxquelles la Tradition donne les noms de Hermione, Charitine, Iraïs et Eutychiane.
Philippe passe pour avoir été ensuite évêque à Tralles en Lydie (Asie Mineure, Turquie occidentale) où il mourut. Certaines autres sources ont dit qu’il mourut à Césarée, peut-être parce que là se trouvait la maison de sa famille.
Comme les Grecs, les Latins fêtent saint Philippe le Diacre le 11 octobre.
St. Philip the Deacon
SO much was the number of the faithful increased after the first sermons of St. Peter, that the apostles being entirely taken up in the ministry of the word, it was judged proper to choose seven men, full of the spirit of God and of wisdom, to have care of the poor, under the name of deacons or ministers. St. Philip is named the second in this catalogue, 1 who, according to St. Isidore of Pelusium, was a native of Cæsarea in Palestine. The deacons were not confined to what seemed to give birth to the institution; for at that time the divine mysteries were sometimes administered to the faithful at a supper, as appears from St. Paul, 2 though afterwards the apostles ordered that the blessed eucharist should only be received by persons fasting, as St. Austin observes, and is clear from Tertullian and others. Only the priests could consecrate the holy mysteries; but deacons often delivered the cup. 3 That the deacons were appointed to minister in the holy mysteries, (and this probably by an express order of Christ,) is manifest from the holy scriptures, and from the writings of the disciples of the apostles. In their first institution they were ordained by an imposition of hands with prayer. 4 St. Paul requires almost the same conditions in the deacons as in bishops or priests, and that they be tried before they be admitted into the ministry. 5 St. Ignatius, writing to the Trallians, 6 calls the deacons, “the ministers of the mysteries of Jesus Christ.” And to the Smyrnæans he says: “Reverence the deacons as the precept of the Lord.” 7 In his other epistles, he usually joins the deacons with the priests and bishops as sacred ministers in the church. St. Cyprian calls deacons the ministers of the episcopacy, and of the church. 8 The sacred functions in which deacons were employed, were: first, to minister to the priest at the sacrifice of the eucharist, as St. Laurence testifies in his famous words to Pope Sixtus, recorded by St. Ambrose. 9 Secondly, to baptize in the absence of the priest. Thirdly, to preach the divine word. The holy deacon St. Philip excelled so much in preaching the gospel, that he acquired the name of evangelist, by which he is distinguished in the Acts of the Apostles. 10 After the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the disciples being dispersed into several places, St. Philip first carried the light of the gospel into Samaria. The people of that country listened with one accord to his discourses, and by seeing the miracles which he wrought in confirmation of the doctrine he delivered, great numbers were converted to the faith. For many who were possessed by unclean spirits were delivered, and others afflicted with palsies or lamenesses were healed. 11
At that time one Simon, surnamed the magician, made a great figure in Samaria. He was a native of Gitton in that country, and, before the arrival of St. Philip, had acquired a great reputation in the city of Samaria, seducing the people, whom he had for a long time bewitched with his magical practices, as St. Luke testifies, 12 who adds: That they all gave ear to him from the least to the greatest, saying: This man is the power of God, which is called great. The infernal spirit sought to oppose these illusions and artifices to the true miracles of Christ; as he was suffered to assist the magicians of Pharaoh against Moses. But God, when he permits the devil to exert in such an extraordinary manner his natural strength and powers, always furnishes his servants with means of discerning and confounding the imposture. Accordingly the clear miracles wrought by Philip put the magician quite out of countenance. Being himself witness to them, and seeing the people run to Philip, to be baptized by him, he also believed, or pretended to believe; and being baptized, stuck close to Philip, hoping to attain to the power of effecting miracles like those which he saw him perform. The apostles at Jerusalem hearing of the conversion of Samaria, sent thither SS. Peter and John to confirm the converts by the imposition of hands, which sacrament only bishops could confer. With the grace of this sacrament at that time were usually conferred certain external gifts of the miraculous powers. Simon seeing these communicated to the laity by the imposition of the hands of the apostles, offered them money, saying: “Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I shall lay my hands he may receive the Holy Ghost.” But St. Peter said to him: “Keep thy money to thyself to perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Do penance for this thy wickedness; and pray to God, if perhaps this thought of thy heart may be forgiven thee. For I see thou art in the gall of bitterness, and engaged in the bonds of iniquity.” Simon being in that evil disposition was incapable of receiving the gifts of the Holy Ghost, at least interior sanctifying grace. Nor did he sincerely seek this. However, fearing the threat of temporal evils, he answered: “Pray you for me to the Lord, that none of these things may come upon me.” From this crime of Simon, the sin of selling any spiritual thing for a temporal price, which both the law of nature and the positive divine law most severely condemn, is called simony; and to maintain that practice lawful is usually termed in the canon law the heresy of Simon Magus. We have no further account of this impostor in the holy scriptures, except that he and his disciples seemed marked out by St. Paul and St. Jude; 13 and St. James proved against them 14 the necessity of good works to salvation. St. Peter also draws their portrait in the most frightful colours. 15 The fathers generally look upon the conversion of Simon to the faith as an act of hypocrisy, founded only in ambition and temporal views, and in the hope of purchasing the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which he ascribed to a superior art, magic. We learn from St. Epiphanius, 16 St. Irenæus, 17 Tertullian, 18 Theodoret, 19 and other fathers, that he afterwards pretended to be the Messias, and called himself the power of God, who was descended on earth to save men, and to re-establish the order of the universe, which he affirmed had been disturbed by the ambition of the angels striving which should be the first, and enslaving men under their government of the world. He said, that to hold man in their captivity, they had invented the law of good works, whereas he taught that faith alone sufficeth to salvation. He pretended that the world was created by angels, who afterwards revolted from God and usurped an undue power in it. Yet he ordered them to be honoured, and sacrifices to be offered to the Father by the mediation of these powers, not to beg their succour, but to appease them that they might not obstruct our designs on earth, nor hurt us after our death. This superstitious worship of the angels was a downright idolatry, and was condemned by St. Paul. 20 See on it Tertullian, St. Epiphanius, and Theodoret. Simon rejected the Old Testament, saying it was framed by the angels, and that he was come to abolish it. Having purchased a beautiful prostitute at Tyre, he called her Helena, and said she was the first intelligence, and that the Father through her had created the angels. He often called himself the Holy Ghost; which name he sometimes gave also to Helena. He required divine honours to be paid to himself under the figure of Jupiter, and to Helena under that of Minerva. He denied free-will, and sowed the seeds of the abominations afterwards propagated by the Gnostics. His extravagant system was a medley formed from Paganism, and the Christian, Jewish, and Samaritan doctrines. He strove in all things to rival Christ. His journey to Rome will be mentioned in the life of St. Peter. St. Philip had the affliction amidst the spiritual success of his ministry, to see the hypocrisy of this monster, and the havoc of souls made by his impiety and blasphemies. Christ himself was pleased to suffer much contradiction in his doctrine, to teach his disciples patience and meekness under the like trials from the obstinacy of impenitent sinners. If their labours were always successful where would be the crown of their patience?
St. Philip was probably still at Samaria, when an angel appearing to him, ordered him to go southward to a road that led from Jerusalem to Gaza. There he found an Ethiopian eunuch, one of the principal officers in the court of Queen Candace, and her high treasurer, who, being a Jew, had made a religious visit to the temple, and was then on his road homewards. 21 Such was his affection to the sacred writings, that he was reading the prophecy of Isaiah as he was travelling in his chariot. The passage on which he was meditating happened to be that 22 in which the prophet, speaking of the passion of Christ, says he was led like a sheep to the slaughter; that his humiliation was crowned, his ignominious condemnation being taken away by the glory of his resurrection; for who can explain his eternal generation, or the glorious resurrection of his humanity, which is as it were a second miraculous birth. St. Philip expounded to him this text, which the eunuch did not understand, instructed him perfectly in the faith, and baptized him. After which the eunuch returning home full of joy, became the apostle and catechist of Ethiopia his country, as St. Jerom assures us 23 from Eusebius. The Abyssinians to this day regard him as their apostle. As for St. Philip, when he had baptized his illustrious convert, he was conveyed by God to Azotus, where he published the gospel, and in all the other towns in his way to Cæsarea, the place of his ordinary residence. Twenty-four years afterwards St. Paul, when he came thither in 58, lodged in his house. His four daughters were virgins and prophetesses. 24 St. Jerom says they preserved their virginity by vow, or at least out of devotion. 25 The same father thinks their gift of prophecy was the recompense of their chastity. 26 St. Philip probably died at Cæsarea. It was the apostle St. Philip who died at Hierapolis, whose death and daughters some have confounded with the deacon’s.
Note 3. This is clear from Constit. Apost. l. 8, c. 13. St. Cypr. l. de Lapsis, and the author of Quæst. Vet. et Novi Test. c. 101, &c. [back]
Note 6. Ep. ad Trallian. n. 2, p. 62. [back]
Note 7. Ep. ad Smyrn. n. 7, p. 37. [back]
Note 8. S. Cypr. ep. 65, ed. Pam. [back]
Note 9. L. 1, Offic. c. 41. [back]
Note 14. Jac. ii. 14. [back]
Note 16. St. Epiph. Hær. 21. [back]
Note 17. St. Irenæus, l. 1, c. 2. [back]
Note 18. Præscr. c. 33. [back]
Note 19. Hæret. fabul. c. 1, 5, 9. [back]
Note 20. Coloss. ii. 18. Theodoret says, that this superstitious worship of angels continued long in Phrygia and Pisidia, and that some of their oratories were standing in his time. Comm. in Coloss. ii. p. 355. The council of Laodicea in those parts had condemned it. Can. 35, ed. Bevereg. t. 1, p. 468. On which read the comments of Balsamon, Zonaras, and Aristenus. Ibid. [back]
Note 21. These Ethiopians inhabited the peninsula of Meroë, lying on the west, adjoining to the lower part of Egypt. Women usually reigned in that country, and many of their queens were called Candace. Some say from Pliny, l. 6, c. 29, and Strabo, l. 17, that Candace was the name of all the queens of that country. See Calmet. [back]
Note 23. St. Hieron. in Isa. liii. et ep. 103. Eusebius, Hist. l. 2. St. Iren. l. 3, c. 12. [back]
Note 25. L. 1, contra Jovin. c. 24. [back]
Note 26. Ep. 8, et Ep. 78, c. 16. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VI: June. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
The seven men elected by the whole company of the original Christian community at Jerusalem and ordained by the Apostles, their office being chiefly to look after the poor and the common agape. The number of believers at Jerusalem had grown very rapidly, and complaints had been made that poor widows of Hellenistic Jews were neglected. The Apostles, not desiring to be drawn away from preaching and the higher spiritual ministry to care for material things, proposed to the believers to transfer such duties to suitable men, and following this suggestion the "Seven" were appointed (Acts 6:1-6). This was the first separation of an ecclesiastical, hierarchical office from the Apostolate in which up to then the ecclesiastico-religious power had been concentrated. The "seven men" were "full of the Holy Ghost" and therefore able partially to represent the Apostles in more important matters referring to the spiritual life, as is seen in the case of St. Stephen at Jerusalem, of St. Philip in Samaria, and elswhere. Nothing further is known of several of the seven deacons, namely Nicanor, Timon, and Parmenas. Philip, who is called the "Evangelist", preached with much success in Samaria (Acts 8:5 sq.), so that the two Apostles Peter and John went there later to bestow the Holy Ghost on those whom he had baptized. He also baptized the eunuch of the Queen of the Ethiopians (Acts 8:26 sqq.). According to the further testimony of the Book of the Acts (xxi, 8 sqq.) he lived later with his prophetically gifted daughters at Caesarea. His feast is observed on 6 June, by the Greek Church on 11 October. In later narratives Prochorus is said to be one of the seventy disciples chosen by Christ; it is related that he went to Asia Minor as a missionary and became Bishop of Nicomedia. The apocryphal Acts of John were wrongly ascribed to him [cf. Lipsius, "Apokryphe Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden", I (Brunswick, 1883), 355 sqq.]
In the second half of the second century a curious tradition appeared respecting Nicholas. Irenaeus and the anti-heretical writers of the early Church who follow him refer the name of the Nicolaitans — a dissolute, immoral sect that are opposed, as early as the Apocalypse of John — to that of Nicholas and trace the sect back to him (Irenaeus, Against Heresies I.26.3 and III.11.1). Clement relates as a popular report (Stromat., II, xx) that Nicholas was reproved by the Apostles on account of his jealousy of his beautiful wife. On this he set her free and left it open for any one to marry her, saying that the flesh should be maltreated. His followers took this to mean that it was necessary to yield to the lusts of the flesh (cf. the Philosophumena, VII, 36). This narrative points to a similar tradition, such as is found in Irenaeus respecting the Nicolaitans. How far the tradition is historical cannot now be determined, perhaps the Nicolaitans themselves falsely ascribed their origin to the Deacon Nicholas [cf. Wohlenberg, "Nikolas von Antiochen und die Nikolaiten" in the "Neue kirchl. Zeitschrift" (1895), 923 sqq.].
Kirsch, Johann Peter. "Seven Deacons." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 6 Jun. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13741c.htm>.