Crescens, a companion of St. Paul during his second Roman captivity, appears but once in the New Testament, when he is mentioned as having left the Apostle to go into Galatia: “Make haste to come to me quickly”, St. Paul writes to Timothy, “for Demas hath left me, loving this world, and is gone to Thessalonica, Crescens into Galatia, Titus into Dalmatia” (II Tim., iv, 8-10). All commentators agree in ranking Crescens with Titus rather than with Demas, and in seeing here, therefore, a reference to a missionary journey into Galatia. This term, in New Testament times, might mean either Gaul or the Roman province of Galatia in Asia Minor, where St. Paul had labored so much; and here it has been interpreted in either sense. In the other passages where it occurs in the New Testament, however, it denotes Galatia, and most probably it would be so understood here by Timothy, especially as the other regions mentioned are likewise to the east of Rome. Moreover, St. Paul might easily have a reason for sending a disciple to visit his old Churches in Galatia, while there is no proof that he had an active interest in Gaul. Accordingly, the earliest tradition (Apost. Constit., VII, 46) represents Crescens as bishop of the Churches in Galatia. Later traditions, on the other hand, locate him as Bishop of Vienne in Gaul, also at Mainz on the Rhine. But the earliest traditions of Gaul itself know nothing of this disciple of the Apostle as a founder of their Churches, and the belief seems to have arisen later from the desire of an Apostolic origin. The claims of Vienne have been most strongly urged; but they are based upon the mistaken identification of its first bishop, Crescens, who lived in the third century, with the disciple of St. Paul. As little can be said for Mainz. The reading of certain manuscripts (Sinaiticus, Ephraemi), which have Gallia instead of Galatia, has also been advanced in favor of Gaul; but the traditional reading is supported by the great mass of manuscript evidence. Crescens is mentioned as one of the Seventy Disciples of Christ by the Pseudo-Dorotheus, which has no authority. His martyrdom in Galatia, under Traj an, commemorated on June 27 by the Roman Martyrology, lacks the confirmation of older Martyrologies. The Greek Church honors him on July 30.
JOHN F. FENLON