St. Barnabas was born in Cyprus with the name of Joseph to pious Jewish parents from the Tribe of Levi. He was sent back to Jerusalem, the ancestral home of his parent’s family, to study with the renown teacher Gamaliel. One of his fellow students was a young man of Tarsus called Saul. When Joseph saw Jesus work the miracle of healing the infirm man at the Sheep’s Gate, he was converted and followed Christ and became one of the Seventy Disciples who were sent out two by two to preach in His name.
Joseph was later given the name Barnabas, which means “Son of Consolation,” because he was so consoling in preaching that the Messiah had come. St. Barnabas prayed for his friend Saul, for Saul did not believe, and became a persecutor of the early Church. After Saul converted, St. Barnabas became his companion through many Apostolic labors to Antioch in Syria, then to Selucia, Paphos in Cyprus, Perga, Antioch in Pamphilia, Lycia, Lystra, Derbe, and other parts of Asia Minor. St. Paul and St. Barnabas later separated. St. Barnabas then traveled with St. Mark to Cyprus, Rome, and then back to Cyprus, where he was martyred in a.d. 61.