Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Biographies


Saint Aristobulus, Apostle of Britain

( 1st century)

A first approach to the indigenous Orthodox Saints and Martyrs of the Ancient Church who lived and who propagated the Faith in the British Isles and Ireland during the first millennium of Christianity and prior to the Great Schism is being attempted in our website  in our desire to inform our readers, who may not be aware of the history, the labours or the martyrdom of this host of Orthodox Saints of the original One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of our Lord.

"The Church in The British Isles will only begin to grow when she begins to venerate her own Saints"     (Saint Arsenios of Paros 1877)


SAINT ARISTOBULUS -  Apostle of the Seventy, revered as having brought the Orthodox Faith to the shores of Britain.  

Aristobulus of Britannia (Full title, in Greek: Aghios Apostolos Aristovoulos, Martyras, kai Protos Episkopos Vretannias; Welsh: Arwystli Hen Episcob Cyntaf Prydain; Latin: Sanctus Aristobulus Senex, Apostolus, Martyr, Episcopus Primus Britanniae; English: Saint Aristibule the Old, Apostle, Martyr, and First Bishop of Britain.

Also, Aristobulus, Apostle to Britain) is a Jewish Cypriot saint, numbered among the Seventy Disciples. Along with the Apostles Urban of Macedonia, Stachys, Ampliatus, Apelles of Heraklion and Narcissus of Athens he assisted Saint Andrew. St. Aristobulus was also the brother of the Apostle Barnabas.

He preached the Gospel in Britain as its first bishop and there he reposed peacefully in the Lord.

Previous to this, he preached the Gospel to the Celts of Northern Spain, i.e. Celtiberians, whilst on his way to Britain.

His feast days are celebrated on March 16, on October 31 (with Amplias, Apelles, Stachys, Urban, and Narcissus), and on January 4 with the Seventy.

Such was the Apostle Aristobulus' acclaim amongst the Brythonic Celts that a region was named after him, i.e. Arwystli, which later became a small medieval British kingdom, and continues to this day as a district, or more precisely, a cantref within the county of Powys, Wales.

He is possibly mentioned by St. Paul and is identified with Zebedee, the father of Sts. James and John. Hippolytus writing in AD 160 the Martyrologies of the Greek Church, (and others) state that he preached in Britain. It is believed he was martyred in Wales although there is no documentation for this.

Troparion of the Apostles tone 5

Let us acclaim Stachys,

Apelles, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus and Aristobulus

as a six-stringed harp of the Spirit

that sings of God's marvellous gifts to mankind.

As divine apostles they pray for us.


Article published in English on: 2-9-2009.

Last update: 2-9-2009.