Keith Hunt - Search for the Twelve Apostles - Page Eighteen   Restitution of All Things

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by William Steuart McBirnie, Ph.D.

SIMON the Zealot continued .....

     We cannot agree with Mr.Jowett that Simon was likked in
Great Britain as the tradition of his death in Persia is too
strong .... but there is no doubt Somin could have gone to
Britain, preached for awhile, perhaps even in London, and then
fled to the Middle East because of the destruction of London at
the hands of anti-Roman revolutionaries led by Queen Boadicea.

     Let ustherefore pursue the reasonableness of the tradition
of a short visit by St.Simon to Britain. First is the provable
fact that Britain was well known to people in the Middle East at
least a thousand years or more before Christ. The following
observation by Karl E.Meyer indicates this:

"Trade routes continued to expand, extending to astonishingly
distant places. Egyptian beads have been found in Wessex graves.
An even more exhilarating discovery was made in June 1953 at
Stonehenge when Professor R. J. C. Atkinson was preparing to take
a photograph of Sarsen Stone 53. For the first time be noticed
two carvings on the great slab--the outlines of an ax and a
dagger. The ax was of a familiar Bronze Age type, but the dagger
resembled those found in Mycenae in Greece. Atkinson believes
that the architect of Stonehenge III 'must certainly have been a
man who was familiar with the buildings of contemporary urban
civilizations of the Mediterranean world.' Britain at that time,
he goes on to remark, was more truly part of Europe than at any
other time until the Roman conquest." ( The Pleasures o f
Archaeology, Karl E. Meyer, p.203)

     There is thus considerable evidence to support the opinions
of historians of the past, that the products of Britain were well
known ......

     In his book, "Roman Britain" I. A. Richmond tells of the
development and growth of British industry and trade with the
continent of Europe:

"Much of the most famed of British metals in the days before the
Roman occupation was tin. The vivid accounts by Diodorus Siculus,
of overland pack-horse transport of Cornish tin from the Gallic
coast to Narbo (Narbonne) in the first century B.C., and of the
island emporium on the British coast, from which merchants
obtained it, all speak of a brisk and flourishing early trade,
monopolized in Caesar's day by the Beneti of Brittany." (Roman
Britain, I. A. Richmond, p.156)

"In the Thames valley the struggle had been in progress, with
varied success, for a generation or more; and this rivalry also
had brought about the appearance of British suppliant kings at
the court of Augustus. If Roman poets sometimes indulged in
prophetic visions of a conquest of Britain, the island chieftains
already viewed the event as a sobering likelihood." (Ibid., p.15)

     Concerning England in the first century Clayton writes:

"London was founded in A.D.43, but was then limited in size and
scope. The western confines halted at the Walbrook. The south was
bounded by the tidal Thames, which spread on the south bank when
wind and tide together reached a peak of influence. The northern
border of the colony, as it existed when Boudicea came, stood on
a line flanked at one end by the Walbrook, and at the east by
Bishop's Gate and Ald Gate, though neither of these gates were so
far built. The colony, commenced in 43, achieved prosperity and
became crowded during the first decade of its existence. By 61
this unwalled London city had definitely reached prosperity. 
Nothing indeed was farther from their thoughts than that the city
would be sacriiccd .....

     When eventually the Apostles divided up the civilized world
into areas of individual evangelism we can be sure they followed
the same routes and arrived at the same destinations as those who
had already heard the word in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.
It is instructive to see that Jerusalem was an international city
in the first century. Jews from all over the empire came there
from time to time, as did others who were not Jews, such as the
Ethiopian treasurer who was baptized by St.Philip on the way back
to Ethiopia from a visit to Jerusalem.

     In our search for the Apostles again and again we are
impressed with the relative ease of travel in the first century
which was made possible by the vast network of Roman roads all
over the empire from Persia to Britain. Not only did the Romans
force the local people in each area to build the roads but the
Romans themselves also both built and protected the roads. It was
not until the Roman empire was invaded by the Golhs, Huns,
Visigoths and others in the 5th century that the empire broke up,
mostly because the Roman roads could neither be maintained nor
kept secure.....

     Britain was at first located on the extreme edge the
frontier of the empire. But the raw frontier conditions were soon
overcome. There is much reason to be lieve that the Roman Way had
penetrated everywhere even before the time of Claudius. The
mineral wealth of England was surely imported by Rome before the
time of Claudius. Particularly the mineral, lead, which was used
in the highly developed plumbing of the cities and villas of
Italy. (Romans did not know they were slowly poisoning themselves
with the lead, but then neither did other countries until modern
times.) Lead and also silver were needed in vast quantities by
Rome, and the two metals were usually found together. To insure
the regular supplies of these commodities, the Romans used the
ships of Spain to trade with Britain long before the time of

     If St.Simon visited in England it could not have been for
long. Putting together the events of those days we would conclude
that if the Apostle visited in England he might have come to
Glastonbury in company with Joseph of Arimathea. There certainly
is no other tradition known concerning the history of St.Joseph
of Arimathea and since the British tradition is vigorous we see
no reason to challenge it, though admittedly, it stands only upon
tradition and is not in proven history. Again., it must be
observed that all of the early Christians had to go somewhere or
else Christianity could not have spread throughout the Roman
empire as rapidly as it did. If in any country there is a strong
tradition concerning some Apostolic figures, and no
counter-tradition elsewhere, then we at least stand on the ground
of possibility and even probability. So it is with St.Simon and

     The way we, therefore, postulate the story of St.Simon is
this: he left Jerusalem and traveled first to Egypt and then
through North Africa to Carthage, from there to Spain and north
to Britain. Nothing in this theory is impossible or unreasonable.
He may have then gone from Glastonbury to London, which was by
that time the capital of the new Roman conquest. There he would
have preached in Latin to members of the Roman community. He
would not have been able to preach to the native Britons in their
language, but Latin was already widely used by the Britons and it
is possible that even some Britons could have heard the gospel
from St.Simon. (He may well have spoken Greek - Greek was the
common universal language of the Roman Empire, and we know from
historical sources Greek was spoken in Britain - Keith Hunt)

     If there were Jews in London, surely Simon would have gone
to them. There is, however, no historical proof that a church was
founded, and before long the revolutionaries led by the British
Queen, Boadicea, came against the Roman occupation forces. The
frightening rumors of her extermination of all Romans and her
destruction of London would surely have caused Simon to flee
toward the south of England. There he would have embarked upon a
ship to return to Palestine, because it was obvious that the
disruption of the Roman peace made England at that time a
doubtful field for the proclamation of the gospel. In other
words, Simon witnessed and preached but because of unsettled
conditions, was forced to retire.

     The next strong tradition finds St.Simon in Persia in
company with St.Jude with whom he was martyred. Mary Sharp
writes, "They were thought to have preached together in Syria and
Mesopotamia traveling as far as Persia and to have been martyred,
St.Simon being sawn asunder and St.Jude killed with a halberd."
(A Traveller's Guide to Saints in Europe, p.198)

     The book, "Sacred and Legendary Art," affirms the same
tradition of St.Jude and St.Simon, "They preached the Gospel
together in Syria and Mesopota and suffered martyrdom in Persia."
(Sacred and Legendary Art, Mrs. Ann Jamison, p.281)

     According to Roman Catholic tradition the bodies of Jude and
Simon are buried together, the bones being intermixed, the major
tomb being in St.Peter's in Rome, with fragments in the church of
St.Satuminus, Tolosa, Spain, St.Sernin, Toulouse, France and
until World War 2 in the monastery chapel of St.Norbet, Cologne,
Germany. (A Traveller's Guide to Saints in Europe, Mary Sharp,


So ends the study by McBirnie on the TWELVE APOSTLES. He does
give studies on the Apostles who were NOT of the Twelve: John
Mark; Barnabas; John the Baptist; Luke; Lazarus; Paul.

Those studies I now present.

To be continued

Entered on this Website May 2008

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