(Copied and inserted as written.)
St. Andrew the General [The Passion of St. Andrew the General (BHG 118)] [At Military Saints]
St. Callistratus with translation of [At Military Saints]
Armenian Passion of St. Callistratus BHO 185
St. Christopher with translations of [At Military Saints]
The Passion of St. Christopher BHL 1764
The Passion of St. Christopher BHL 1766
St. Demetrius of Thessalonica with translation of [At Military Saints]
The Passion (BHL 2122) and Miracles (BHL 2123) of St. Demetrius by Anastasius the Librarian BHL 2122-23
Ss. Emeterius and Chelidonius with a translation of [At Military Saints]
Ss. Fidelis, Exantus, and Carpophorus [The Passion of Ss. Fidelis, Exantus, and Carpophorus (BHL 2922)][At Military Saints]
St. Florian with translation of [At Military Saints]
The Passion of St. Florian BHL 3054
The Passion of St. Florian BHL 3058
St. George with translations of [At Military Saints]
The Passion of St. George BHO 310 (Translation from E.A.W. Budge (1888), 203-35)
The Passion of St. George BHO 316 + 318 (Translation from E.A.W. Budge (1888), 236-74)
The Encomium of Abba Theodotus BHO 320 (Translation from E.A.W. Budge (1888), 274-331)
Images of St. George Throughout the Ages
St. Luxurius [The Passion of Ss. Luxurius, Camerinus and Cisellus (BHL 5092)][At Military Saints]
St. Maurice and the Theban Legion with translation of [At Military Saints]
The Passion of St. Maurice and the Theban Legion BHL 5740
St. Maximilian of Tebessa [The Passion of St. Maximilian of Tebessa (BHL 5813)][At Military Saints]
St. Marcellus of Tingis [The Passion of St. Marcellus (BHL 5255a)][At Military Saints]
St. Menas with translations of: [At Military Saints]
The Passion of St. Menas of Cotyaeum BHG 1250
The Passion of St. Menas of Cotyaeum BHO 746 (Translation from E.A.W. Budge (1909), 44-58)
Ethiopic Synaxarium (Translation from E.A.W. Budge (1909), 39-43)
St. Mercurius with translation of [At Military Saints]
The Passion of St. Mercurius BHG 1274
Other Sources [Malalas on Mercurius and Julian]
Ss. Sergius and Bacchus with translation of [At Military Saints]
The Passion of St. Sergius and Bacchus BHL 7599
2ND David Woods: The Origin of the Cult of SS. Sergius and Bacchus
The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus. [At CMU] Sergius and Bacchus were two military saints. Their shrine at Sergipolis/Rusapha was a major cult center for Arab Christians.
St. Theagenes of Parium with translations of: [At Military Saints]
The Passion of St. Theagenes of Parium BHG 2416
The Passion of St. Theagenes BHL 8106
The Passion of St. Theagenes BHL 8107
St. Theodore the Recruit with translations of [At Military Saints]
Latin Passion: The Passion of St. Theodore the Recruit BHL 8077
Coptic Passion: The Passion of St. Theodore the General and St. Theodore the Eastern (Translation by Winstedt (1910), 73-133)]
Armenian Passion of St. Theodore the General BHO 1168
Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-d.c.395): In Praise of Theodore, Great Martyr, trans Casimir McCambly, [At Nyssa Homepage/Uconn]
St. Typasius the Veteran [The Passion of St. Typasius (BHL 8354)] [At Military Saints]
St. Varus [At Military Saints]
St. Victor of Milan [The Passion of St. Victor (BHL 8580)][At Military Saints]
The Passion of St. Andrew the General (BHG 118)
1. During the reign of the most impious Maximianus there was a great persecution of Christians, especially in the territories of Syria. At that time a superstitious man by the name of Antiochus held command of the military force stationed there, and he was extremely hostile towards pious men because of his idolatry. Many soldiers who shared in this error were assigned to his command. Among these, like a rose among thorns or incense among foul smells, there shone in secret the martyr and faithful servant of God, Andrew. Because of his zealous ardour he was deemed worthy of the work of almighty God and Jesus Christ Our Saviour, and he defeated in battle those who opposed him, and was conspicuous for his many brave deeds.
2. At that time it happened that a part of the Persian forces crossed the borderlands and engaged in war against Antiochus. So, since the suddenness of the assault and the number of the attackers greatly disturbed Antiochus, he remembered the military skills of Andrew and summoned him to join his inner-council. Calling upon his daring, he addressed him in such a manner, “Your valiant deeds,” he said, “and the many distinctions which you have won against the enemy are known both to me and to him who holds the sceptre. You have been chosen because of them, and because of your rank. I entrust to your valour this great and unexpected war in order that your reputation will grow even more through the present conflict.” When Christ’s best soldier heard these words, trusting not in numbers, nor in weapons or in armour, but only in Almighty God, he imitated the great Gideon and arranged a few soldiers, small in number, those whom grace from heaven above revealed clearly to him, into battle formation, and led this against the enemy who had been arrayed against him.
3. When they were about to begin close combat, he presented to his men as a matter for discussion the superior knowledge of God by the majority of their enemies, since they had not yet been deemed worthy of faith in the God Christ. He said the following things to them. “This is the right time for you,” he said, “to come to a full knowledge of God in heaven. For you will immediately recognise that the gods of the pagans are really demons. My God, the one who made heaven and earth, is the true God. Accordingly, since he is all-powerful, he helps those who call upon him. He reveals them mighty in war, and they ward off the attacks of their enemies. So behold ! See that the enemy stand opposite us in large numbers and have proved stronger than us until now. But come on, put aside your error, call, with me, upon He who is truly God, and you will see them dead and driven away before you, like smoke or dust from the threshing-floor.” This is what he said to them. They believed what he said, and charging forward with great boldness, they put to flight the front ranks and gained a great victory against them. By making his chosen men witnesses of this battle and miracle and by thoroughly strengthening them in this way, the holy man of God led them to knowledge of the Lord.
4. Do you not think that this disturbed the hostile devil who had been planning the victory for himself, and deemed what had happened a personal defeat ? But the very great athlete of God, running over the track in turn, received the stronger of the gifts from above, like heavenly deposits, and abounded in wondrous power against the demons. By freeing every day many who were possessed by unclean spirits, he inflicted a vital blow upon the devil and very greatly humiliated that proud and evil being. Since the course of the war had gone according to the holy man’s plan, and he had triumphed over the Medes, he, together with his entourage, was adorned with the due rewards at Antiochus’ court, as was fitting. Certain men, pursuing a task of envy and jealousy, yet accomplishing something good although they did not mean it, charged him and the soldiers with him with confessing and worshipping as God the crucified one. Antiochus took the matter angrily and sent some soldiers under his command to him in order to learn the truth of the matter and report it back to him. When he had determined, by means of those whom he had sent, that these things were so, he used flattery and threats, reminded him of his hatred for and bitterness towards Christians, and declared, “Since you know how, and with what sort of tortures, I killed Eutychius, the son of Polyeuctus, and many of those with him who had confessed their faith in Christ, and that I did not take pity on them,” he said, “with what object or hope do you now make your case on behalf of the crucified one ?”
5. In reply to this he said, “You greatly strengthen my resistance by the things which you have said. For if all those you named, having been inflicted with terrible tortures by your authority, have emerged victors, and carry their athletic crowns in the presence of Christ who is God, why would I, a friend, or rather servant of My Lord Jesus Christ, not be eager also to remain forever constant, in order to enjoy the same rewards with them ?” So when the holy man had spoken these words which were quickly written down for Antiochus’ hearing, that boastful and godless man ordered him to be brought bound into his presence, to be questioned in front of all, and to confess clearly whether he wished to obey either the commands of the emperor or his God. And when, in the presence of men, angels, and the whole of nature, Andrew confessed Christ clearly and courageously, the most haughty governor devised a wicked punishment for him, and, being ironical towards him, said, “Since Andrew has clearly achieved many things in the wars, and has been crowned for not a few victories, we have contrived for him to find a means of rest and relaxation.”
6. He then ordered a bronze couch to be readied, and when this had been made very hot, he ordered the holy man to be placed upon it. He very cheerfully leapt onto the couch, as if onto a soft bed, and rested himself. He immediately felt great pain as his whole body was burned and shaken, but he then met with relief and peace of mind as the fire yielded to the great fervour of his faith. The wicked judge also brought forward some of the soldiers who had distinguished themselves with him during the war. Smiling, he ordered their outstreched hands to be firmly nailed to wood, and asked whether they thought that this was enjoyable, so that they immediately, and courageously, gave reply. “Would that”, they said, “would that we were imitating Christ who was nailed to the wood of the cross for us.” The tyrant then turned back again to God-bearing Andrew with his questions, and tested him by asking whether he would change his beliefs and turn from the faith of the Christians if such torture were applied to him. When he answered that he was waiting and longing for the crown of those who endured until the end, and would never part from those being tried with him, Antiochus ordered the martyr to be secured in prison, seemingly in order for him to have time for reflection so as to change his mind, but in truth in order for Antiocus himself to discover the emperor’s will.
7. So he immediately sent a report to Maximianus who, when he had learned through the aforementioned letter about Andrew and those who were with him, decided that he would suffer a lot of murmuring and trouble if he were to surrender to punishment by the sword such a distinguished officer and so many of the best infantry who were with him. He wrote back to Antiochus that he was to accomplish what had to be done in secret and by means of trickery and foul-play, and that he was not to provide the whole army with an opportunity for disturbance or mutiny through this. He wrote these things knowing that if one were to punish some common people without clear evidence that they had done wrong, the inclination of the majority would be to favour them, even if they were worthless men of no account, all the more so if the accused had the greatest reputation, his deeds were well known, and those with him were an outstanding group. Because of this Maximianus added in his letter to the same Antiochus that it was his desire to release them from jail, and grant them pardon for what had already been done, but to pursue them secretly a little while later as if for another offence.
8. SO when Antiochus had received this letter from Maximianus, he set to the task, carried out the commands, and freed from chains Andrew the distinguished servant of God and all those who were with him. He allowed them to live freely and without care. But the holy servant of God, having learned the nature of this trick by divine revelation, waited for those who had suffered with him, those who had received divine knowledge through his exhortation, and went to Tarsus, the capital of the province of Cilicia. He had had it as his aim for a long time to be led to saving baptism by Peter, who was then the holy bishop of the aforementioned metropolis, and was well-known to God for his many virtues. For, as has already been stated, he had been a servant of God from the beginning, and filled with many graces, but he had not yet shared in holy baptism. Antiochus was filled with anger when he learned of his departure and of those who were with him. He summoned his advisors and confidantes and made known to them the details of this affair. He sent a letter to Seleucus, the military commander of the province of Cilicia, which read as follows: “I presume that you have already heard about Andrew who was previously a general of our greatest emperors, but now has not only surrendered himself to madness, but has also roused most of the soldiers who were with him to hostility towards the commands of our emperors. Since I have learned that he has departed secretly from here and now lives in the province of Cilicia, let your clemency, in obedience to the imperial aim, pursue him and those with him, and surrender them to our hands captive and bound. If they should attempt to resist or escape, destroy them with the swords of your soldiers.”
9. When Seleucus received this letter he took with him as many as possible of the best, lightly-armed soldiers whom they call regulars (for he was filled with anger against the servants of Christ), and set out for the aforementioned metropolis of Tarsus where the band of holy men were, he had learned. When the saint learned of this he sought saving-baptism from blessed Peter the bishop, and he received it with the great desire and zeal of one about to be martyred, together with the faithful soldiers who were with him. Present with Peter also was Nonnus, the Bishop of Beroea. He made haste, and fled to the place called Taxanite, doing this not out of fear, but in fulfilment of the Lord’s command which states, “Whenever you are persecuted in one city, flee to another.” When Seleucus learned that the holy man was fleeing from there, he was confused and distressed, and grief changed his appearance. He determinedly pursued him and those with him. The holy man [Andrew] set out from the place called Taxanitis, and travelled the whole of the Taurus Mountain until he reached the territory of Tamaline. He continued into the territory of a village called Orchesti which is in Armenia Prima, near the distinguished metropolis of Melitine, and reached the regions called Chausorius and the Charabates. When Seleucus did not know this, and was completely at a loss to learn by what route the saint had travelled, a certain man by the name of Martinus approached him and reported that he had taken a side-route while journeying through the Taurus Mountains.
10. So, having learned this, that persecutor then descended on the place called Chausorius. But the renowned martyr, and those faithful soldiers who were joined with him everywhere, headed for the region called Androcalon, which was not far from the aforementioned territory of the Orchesti, and dashed into the very straits of the Taurus. This description of how they stand reveals why they are called straits. For two opposing mountain peaks gradually come together and almost join to one another, and the narrows produced as a result of the river passing downwards between them are almost unpassable. They form a precipitous chasm between them which is fearful even to look at. But for this reason has such a situation happened to be named in this way. The great and far-famed martyr, knowing beforehand, as a result of divine revelation, that these places had been pre-ordained for his perfection and that of his followers (for it befitted the one walking in God’s ways to enter into the kingdom of God by travelling the narrow and straitened route), ceased from journeying further. Seleucus then arrived, saw the places where those God-led were, and sent the army following him after them. When the servant of God learned this, he roused himself and those with him for prayer, saying, “O beloved soldiers and children of mine, now is the welcome time of decision and day of salvation. Let us stand in love of God, let us stand in moderation, just as God ordered us, lifting our hands not to ward off the persecutors, but in praise of the God who has deemed us worthy to reach this hour, that we may obtain a share and portion among all the blessed. We will beseech and invoke Him, saying that which the famous Stephen, first of the martyrs, said as he was being stoned, “Lord Jesus Christ, receive the souls of your servants; for into your hands we commend them””.
11. Standing in their middle he raised his hands and eyes to heaven and prayed, saying, “O God, great and almighty, accept my prayer, me a sinner and unworthy servant of God, and that of all those with me who have unswervingly preserved their faith in you, and grant to all their requests for salvation. Protect those who flee to this place, and saving them from all evil and need, grant them sanctity of body and soul. And where our humble blood flows, let there be a healing spring there, and the condemnation and casting-out of evil spirits, to the glory of your blessed, holy and awe-inspiring name, and that of your only son, our God, Jesus Christ, and of your holy and lifegiving Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.” Their pursuers, more terrible than wild beasts, were upon them immediately after this prayer. But they were like innocent lambs being led to the slaughter, and surrendered themselves peacefully and quietly to their hands in imitation of their common Lord.
12. Falling upon them wildly and with bellowing, so to speak, the pagans killed them with their swords and filled the nearby river with their blood. In accordance with the holy prayer of the martyr the place in which his much-revered and honoured blood fell became a spring pouring forth a harvest of cures of every kind. This spring has continued to flow in abundance to the present day, and provides the appropriate cure for each person. For as this account has already revealed the martyr was deemed worthy of all the greater gifts of grace. He had especially the grace of driving out demons. From there his reputation reached not only those who were nearest, those about the place itself and in the region, but those who were far away and those who were even further removed. It is the custom for all the classes, lower, middle and highest, to travel together there, and to celebrate the things that happen there. So this blessed man completed his course, together with the whole of his brave, divinely-chosen unit, on the 19 August, on the Lord’s day at the second hour.
13. Peter, Bishop of Tarsus, he who had poured the divine waters of baptism over Andrew, and Nonnus, Bishop of Beroea, the deacons Theodulus and Synesius, and the readers Marinus, Nicolaus, Eusebius and Lamyrion, desiring to see their end, followed at a distance as Andrew and those with him were about to complete their contest’s struggle. And they also saw the common perfection of all in the Lord, and the honoured remains of all were laid to rest there with suitable reverence. They saw too that venerable and much-admired spring which immediately heard the instruction (?) of the blood of the righteous megalomartyr and gushed forth with the grace of abundant cures. Among its first cures, it straightaway healed one of the aforementioned readers, Lamyrion, who was possessed by a hidden, unclean spirit, and whose condition had not yet been made manifest until then, and when he was cured he went away with them. Praising for these things the God glorified, in very truth, in his saints, they avoided the road through Cilicia because Seleucus was eager to capture Peter, Bishop of Tarsus, who had baptized the holy martyr, as has been said. They travelled Isauria in peace, at the same time praising and lauding the Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, to Whom befits all glory, honour, and adoration, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Armenian Passion of St. Callistratus (BHO 185)
F.C. Conybeare, The Armenian Apology and Acts of Apollonius and Other Monuments of Early Christianity (London, 1896), 289-336, translates the Armenian passion of St. Callistratus found in Vitae et Passiones Sanctorum Selectae ex Eclogariis, 2 vols. (Venice, 1874), vol. I, 656-86.
The Passion of St. Callistratus
(Translation by Conybeare (1896), 289-336)
1. In the times when Diocletian was emperor, there was much fury on the part of the heathen; and not only did they, because they knew not God, work destruction to their own selves, but they tried to seduce all men to conform to their unholy cult. And those who did so conform, especially those who were in high places, not only received honours from the Emperor, but also made much parade of themselves in the great army. But those who avowed their faith in Almighty God, and in His word, and in the Holy Spirit, were subjected to interrogatories, and to torture, and so received the speedy crown and the honour of the glory; but, humanly speaking, their flesh was consumed with evil and cruel tortures.
2. In that time, first and alone, the brave athlete of Christ, whose name was Callistratus, in the city of Rome, took unto himself the crown of victory; and in solemn and sturdy combat he raised the standard of victory for them who had believed in the Lord. For this Callistratus was a soldier of the band which was called Chalcedon; because these came after the band of the [p. 290] Acombiti, which was in Chalcedon, men whom they brought against their will to Rome, according to the law of conscripts. But Callisatratus was of the district of Chalcedon, of free family, and of one that was benevolent and was filled with divine wisdom; and his great-grandfather, Okorus, had been in Jerusalem in the days of our Lord Jesus Christ, under Pilate the judge. This Okorus had [p. 291] seen the Saviour on the cross, had witnessed His death and burial in the tomb, and His resurrection from the dead, and he believed and was baptized on the day of the holy Pentecost, at the descent of the Holy Spirit on the holy Apostles, and he had believed with the Galileans; and he had come to his city and there taught his children and their grandchildren to put their hope in the Lord Jesus Christ; and they learned one from the other and kept up the lore in which their great-grandfather instructed them, right on to the blessed Callisatratus. He alone was a Christian in his band; and at every hour he would glorify the Lord by means of the words of the Holy Spirit.
3. Now on a certain night Callistratus arose and offered prayers to God; but certain of his fellow-soldiers noticed this, and began to say to him: “It is not fitting that thou alone shouldst be childish among us all; be persuaded therefore, and come to the image of Zeus, and take frankincense and blood, and sprinkle them upon it, and become along with us dear to the gods. But if thou wilt not, then blame us not, because we must needs inform our captain of all that thou doest.” But the holy Callistratus made answer and said: “My brethren, why hath Satan filled your minds ? I have not harmed any one of you, nor have I oppressed any one of you; in war I am along with you; in the register of names I am perhaps classed before you, but on parade I do not [p. 292] separate myself from you, nor in the squadron do I pass you by. What reason then have ye now to speak evil of me, this I know not; but this I know that ye have not power to cut me off from the unspeakable benevolence of Jesus my Saviour and from His orthodox worship; not only have ye no power to do so, but not even many more like unto you can do so. Let Christ who bore witness before Pontius Pilate, and of whom my great-grandfather Okorus was an eye-witness, testify unto this for me.”
When they heard this, they rose at dawn and informed Presentinus the captain, saying: “One of the number of thy soldiers who are under thy control, rebels against the worship of the gods, and calls a certain one who is named Christ His King and God, and he acknowledges Him crucified; but he also takes upon himself to pray and fast, and all his rations of pork and of good bread he gives to them that need it, and he himself once a day eats dry bread, dipping it in water; but lest he should inspire many of thy soldiers to revolt with him, therefore we have laid information before thy serene Majesty.” But Presentinus said: “Who is he, and what is his name ?” And they said: “Bonus Miles,” which is, being translated, Callistratus. And the captain ordered them to bring him before them; and he said to him in the Roman tongue, for the captain did not talk Greek, for the Romans cannot at once talk Greek, because of the richness of the tongue. And he said to him: “Quid dicunt [p. 293] socii tui, propter te, celerius dic.” Which, being translated, is: “What do thy comrades say concerning thee, quickly tell us.” This history was written in the Roman tongue, and thus it is that they pronounced the words, who knew the language and translated them, and gave them to us; and we, without altering them, sent them on to all places, which have Christ before their eyes in faith and holiness.
Callistratus made answer and said: “Let them say, O my Lord, what more they have to say concerning me; for I know of nothing wrong to impute to myself.” Presentinus said to the slanderers: “What do ye know concerning Callistratus, boni militis ?” But they said: “Nay, rather let your serene Majesty command him to sacrifice to the great god Zeus, and thou shalt know then his perverse disposition.” So the captain said: “Sacrifice, O Callistratus, to the god Zeus.” Callistratus said: “I offer the sacrifice of praise to the great God who made heaven and earth and everthing in His wisdom; who fashioned man out of dust, and fixed his destiny eternal and inviolable; for I know not the gods made by hand, but I walk as I have learned. For it is written: “All the idols of the heathens are demons, but the Lord made the heavens;” and this also: “The idols of the heathens are gold and silvermade by the hands of the sons of men.” I therefore, O lord Count, do not worship or pay homage to the work of men’s [p. 294] hands; but since I am thy enlisted soldier, and am under thy hand, I have obeyed thee in war and in drill and in all service; surely thou hast not authority over my soul also, that it should serve thee ? God forbid !” 4. Presentinus said: “Here, O Callistratus, there is no need for rhetoric, but we have to talk about obedience; wherefore comply and sacrifice, that thou mayst not compel me to destroy thee in a cruel manner. But I think that thou knowest , that when I arrest any man by force, before torturing him, I consume him with my roarings.” Callistratus said: “Thy roaring and thy threatening is but transient: but the wailing and the gnashing of teeth is eternal. For if I deny my Lord Jesus Christ before men, He will shut me out, He the Master of the house, and there shall be weeping of eyes and gnashing of teeth.”
Then the captain ordered that he should be pinioned and beaten with clubs, until eight men had taken their turn at it. And as they beat him, the holy Callistratus said: “I have sworn and have resolved to keep the judgements of thy righteousness, O Lord. We were very faint, but do thou revive me, aacording to Thy word, nor suffer the destroyer and the many-headed beast to rejoice over me; but strengthen me, Christ, and be unto me a tongue, in order that I may answer, and a physician, in order that my wounds may be healed; [p. 295] for many pangs have I in my flesh because of these torments.”
But when the captain saw his blood gushing out in rivulets upon the earth, he ordered them to cease from beating him; and he said to him: “Sacrifice, O Callistratus, to the gods, in order that thou mayest be saved from instant tortures; for I swear by Artemis, crowned with rays, and by all the company of the gods, unless thou obeyest me, I will cut thee into bits, and the dogs shall devour thy flesh and the lions lick up thy blood.” Callistratus said: “I hope in the King of Heaven, in God, that He will bring me out of the mouth of the lions, and save my helplessness from the hands of the dogs, in order that not I alone of this thy band may praise Him; for I have expectation that by opposing him, and going out against him, I shall raise the standard of victory over the Devil, who incites thee against me. 5. Then the captain ordered them to pound up potsherds and to scatter them beneath him, and to stretch the saint on his back, so that the potsherds might lacerate his back and his wounds. And they placed a funnel in his mouth, and he ordered them to pour water with a jug into his mouth. But the brave champion of Christ suffered these tortures woith courage. And when he had risen up, he said: “O God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, give me strength to meet the artifices of the devil; and save me from him, lest he destroy me, and lest he find a vantage-ground against me.”
The captain said: “Sacrifice, O Callistratus, to [p. 296] the gods; otherwise I will take away thy life, that others of this band be not also lost through thee.” The holy Callistratus said: “Unworthy man, and shameless, thou art eager to do combat for the flock of Satan, thy master, not knowing that this flock belongs to my Christ. But I hope in the King of Heaven, in my Lord Jesus Christ, that however much thou mayest struggle in behalf of the Devil, yet I shall take him captive, and shall snatch them from the number of thy forces, and illuminate them, and establish the Church of Christ in the middle of this city.” But the captain said: “Out on thee, unholy one, and thrice miserable; behold my command is urgent before thine eyes. This instant my government orders me to cast thee into a sack, and to seal up its mouth, and to take and throw thee into the middle of the sea. How then canst thou establish the Church of Christ, or when wilt thou illuminate any of the number of the bands of my soldiers ?” And he ordered them to bring a linen sack, and to throw him into it, and he sealed the mouth of the sack with lead, and he gave it into the hands of the crew, and the crew bore it into the middle of the sea, about forty furlongs, and threw it into the sea. And the captain stood on the shore of the sea, until the sailors came. But the sack went down and was caught in a hollow of the rocks; and even while he was under the sea Callistratus offered up prayers, saying: “O God, invisible and unsearchable, unattainable and unutterable, whose throne of glory cannot be declared, before whom [p. 297] all things tremble and quail, whose threats consume the mountains, and whose name and title cleaves asunder the abysses, before whom the sea shrinks abashed along with the rivers and the whales, who didst search out the heart of Jonas and didst receive his prayers when he came forth on the land, even though he was imprisoned as it were in everlasting bonds, and didst rescue his life from destruction; now also receive the prayers of me, who am a sinner, and in distress, and let my prayers come to the temple of thy holy glory; save me from this present oppression, for thou hast known my works even from my childhood. Thou knowest, O Lord, that I desired to establish Thy Church in the midst of this city; be my fellowworker for good, because Holy is Thy name forever.”
And after he had offered his prayer, the sack chanced upon a narrow passage between rocks, and was torn asunder, and a certain fish of the dolphin tribe took him and bore him upwards from the depths to the shore of the sea, and laid him down upon the sands, and then it turned round and fled back into the sea. But when the soldiers and their captain beheld him, they were much dismayed. But Callistratus began to sing a psalm and said, “I descended into the depths of the sea, and the cataracts engulphed me; but I was not disquieted, and cried out, for Thou hast heard the voice of my prayer; Thou hast [p. 298] torn asunder my sack, and hast established me in gladness.” 6. Then forty and nine of the soldiers fell down before the blessed Callistratus, saying: “We pray thee, servant of God on High, save us from the vanity of this world, for we also are Christians; for great indeed is the God of the Christians, who hath brought thee out of such an abyss; He is able also to help in battle whomsoever He will, for He alone is God.” The holy Callistratus said, “My Lord Jesus Christ shall deliver you, and henceforth ye shall see the King of Heaven.”
And he prayed thus: “Lord, who hast Thy dwelling for ever in unapproachable light, look upon this Thy flock which is in Thee, and preserve them, because Thou art merciful, continually, and for ever.” 7. But Presentinus said, “I swear by the sun, by the Emperor, this fellow is full of exceeding wizardry, for he hath cloven asunder the sea, and hath tricked these men.” And he said to him: “I will oppose this wizardry of thine; grant me a little while, and thou shalt know who is Presentinus, and who is the God whom thou servest.” And he sat down upon his judgement-seat, and ordered them to bring rods, and he caused the forty and nine men to be scourged one after the other. But they said, “Lord Jesus, this torture we endure for Thy sake; help us, O God, the Saviour, and give us strength to bear it; preserve also our shepherd, [p. 299] Callistratus, in order that he may teach us perfectly, for we are as it were dumb animals, and have not the knowledge of Thy will. Look graciously upon our salvation, for blessed is Thy name for ever.”
8.But thereupon the unholy captain ordered them to be put in prison, in order that he might think about them: for he was very grieved at having lost fifty men out of the number of his soldiers. And when they came into the prison, the holy Callistratus began to establish with prayer the forty and nine men, whose names are the following: Acacius, Domnasius, Bibianus, Basiliscus, Bemarchus, Dorotheus, Gerontes, Alpius, Anthimus, Aragseos, Anictus, Bitalius, Grigorius, Georgius, Gigandius, Genadius, Domninus, Dulcimius, Dometianus, Dedalius, Dalmatius, Eusebius, Evagrius, Elsiidius, Eutolius, Evarestus, Evagrius, Tharasimides, Theodorus, Therasius, Lysimachus, Lambliricus, Liminus, Constantinus, Canditianus, Heliages, Hysicus, heliodorus, Memnus, Milinus, Madrinus, Marcianus, Nicatius, Nicolaius, Olombrius, Utripeus, Olipeus, Xanthius. All these fell down before the holy Callistratus, and sought of him the knowledge of Christ. But the holy martyr of Christ spread out his hands to heaven, and spoke thus: “O God, who hast made everything, who art the all-wise Lord of all, who art praised by the numberless hosts of angels, who art perfect Creator; O God of our [p. 300] fathers, look down upon this Thy flock; come unto us, and be among us; fulfil, O Lord, Thy faithful promise, that where two or three are gathered together in My Name, I am there in the midst of them. Hear us, O King of eternity, scatter, O Lord, the flame of the devil. Remove, O Lord, the furnace of fire, that it may not rise higher than forty and nine cubits; in order that all the heathens may see Thy glory, and may glorify Thee, O King of eternity. Vouchsafe unto me, O Lord, wisdom and knowledge, in order that I may cause Thy servants to believe, and bring them before Thee; for blessed is Thy Name for ever.”
And they all with one accord uttered the Amen; and one of them, whose name was Dalmatius, arose, and said to the holy Callistratus: “I pray thee, my lord Callistratus, make us Christians, and teach us the word of God, that we may not be ecer in doubt. Show us our hope and our future help. Recount to us all the wisdom of God, in order that we too may, by the grace of Christ, be glorifiers of Him along with Thee. For our fathers did not ever teach us the paths of righteousness.” Then said unto them the holy Callistratus, “Children mine, and dear brothers, may the Lord give you grace and pity, and may my God bring to light your desire. May the God of [p. 301] heaven and earth fill you all with goodness; for I know that ye have an exceeding desire to hear the commandment of God. Now, therefore, since ye are athirst for righteousness, may the Lord fill you and intoxicate you and satiate you with the all-good and sufficing grace of the Holy Spirit, and with all the hope which ye have in the Lord Christ. But yet, my friends, I am unworthy and weak to tell of the unapproachable depths of the thoughts of God, but let each of you ask what he will, and make prayer for me; because I hope in the Lord Jesus Christ that, through your prayers, the Lord may give me speech to open my mouth boldly, and to speak clearly as an interpreter the plan of the economy of Christ.” Then Bemarchus fell down before him and asked him, and said: “I pray thee, sir, tell me, how God is understood and known, and in what way He begot Christ, or for what reason and why the Jews crucified Him and slew Him.”
9.The holy Callistratus said, “God is light without shadow, invisible and unapproachable; He hath neither beginning nor end; life without term, eternity without change, this is He. He has neither limits nor place, but in all things He is everywhere, and there is nowhere a place in which He is not,. No one is before Him, nor after Him, nor yet beside Him. He is an unknowable, an unintelligible nature. But for our weakness He is called light and life, reality, immortality, eternity, might, wisdom, mind, and whatsoever other names are heard in the holy [p. 302] books. Father and Son, spotless birth and unsearchable; the Word from the heart of the Father, and indivisible from the Father, Offspring inseparable, as is the light from the sun; Son, but not created, nor yet fashioned, and not in a lower degree, nor subservient, but sharer in reality and in being, and sharing in His quality of being without beginning. For ever in the bosom of the Father, according to the holy John, the evangelist, who saith, “From the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God; He was from the beginning with God. Everything was through Him, and without Him was nothing which has been made. Through Him was life, and the life was light unto men, and the light was ashine there in the darkness, and the darkness apprehended Him not.” And again, “God hath no one seen at any time, except the Only Born, who is in the bosom of the Father,” and the Holy Spirit, who emanated and proceeded from the Father; though not born, as is the Word, but an emanation and an effulgence of the eternal light; not made, nor yet lower than Father and Son, but coequal with them, and sharing their substance and partaking equally with the Father and Son. All substance of the Father is of the Son, except that He is not begetter, but begotten; and all substance of the Son is of the Holy Spirit; except that this is not begotten, but emanation; yet not that which sends forth the emanation, but that which has emanated; and through unity, by reason of His Godhead, He is equal in honour [p. 303] with Father and with Son, and there is one glory and one Godhead of the Trinity, one beginningless eternity of Father and Son and Holy Spirit; three Persons in their completeness, one self-hood and rule, one will and one counsel. It is wholly vision, it is wholly light, it is wholly hearing, wholly life, all this and whatsoever name and title else, by which we who are made of clay, call Him according to our weak understanding. One they are and equal, and on a level; except that there is Father, and there is His Offspring, the Word, and the emanation likewise of Him, the Holy Spirit, in three perfect persons.
“Therefore the holy and co-equal Trinity willed and established everything. The Father, by means of the Word, through the Holy Spirit, made heaven and earth, and divided the heavens with fire and the earth with water; He made also the light, according to which He also created the heavenly host; and parted waters from waters, and shot out the foam-flakes of His firmament. And the earth He adorned with things which blossom and grow, and the firmament with the sun and moon and stars; the earth, too, with four-footed animals and creeping things and with fishes did he fill, and the air with birds, according to the command which He gave to earth and waters to bring forth the breath of life.
“And when He had established all things by the power of His awful Godhead, which hung the heavens from nothing, and laid the earth upon nothing, and made all the elements real out of [p. 304 nothing; then at last He fashioned man out of dust, according to the image of His own Immortality, and gave Him free will to rule withal over all creatures which are below heaven. And He gave him a dwelling in the sinlessness of the garden of delight, and promised to advance him to yet greater glory, if he would be obedient to His law in a little thing. But Satan was an angel formed first, and created in the heavens; and because he was full of pride, and rose up in spiritual revolt against the Omnipresent God, therefore he fell from his glory. And he was jealous of man, and in his guile he sowed polytheism by making him taste of a fruit; and because man desired to be equal to God, God deprived him of his glory, and cast him out of the paradise where he was cherished by God. But forasmuch as he was the image of immortal God, Satan was not able nor had the strength to efface him, and utterly destroy him; but, by reason of his free will and of his craft, he fought against the race of men, and polluted them with all kinds of evils, with murder of their brothers, and with lawless unions. And the first race who did not obey the preaching of the just Noah, were therefore destroyed by a flood; and there only remained Noah and his children, eight souls. After that, by reason of their building the tower, their tongues were separated one from the other, and race by race, so that they were seventy and two races in number over the whole earth. And after that, Satan prompted them to worship idols, and to pollute [p. 305] themselves with the worship of everything, as you now behold – worship which the Lord will remove and destroy from among us. And thus he sowed the first seeds, and made the beginning of polytheism, when he said to Eve, “Ye shall be gods”; so leading men to vain worship; and the whole earth was in great sin.
“And the great God was moved to pity them, and He chose the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and their seed He took to Himself as His chosen people. And them He brought out of Egypt by the hand of Moses, and gave them laws, which laws also Satan destroyed, for they made a calf in the desert, and polluted themselves with abominations. And the second time in pity He gave them priests and prophets; but they believed not in them either, because of the promptings of Satan; neither were they schooled or corrected by tribulation or slavery, or invocation by name of the angels; and the whole earth with one accord was perverted, and followed after Satan, seeking from him the fulfillment of their evil wishes. But God, in His noble pity, had compassion on the race of men, and sent His only-begotten Word into the world, who hallowed the virgin Miriam, and dwelt in her, and (she) conceived inviolate without the seed of man, and without concupiscence, of herself fashioned an incorruptible body, according to the leader of the [p. 306] angels, Gabriel, who said, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; for that which shall be born of thee is holy, and a Son of God; and they shall call his name Jesus, because He shall save His people from their sins.” And He was conceived incorruptible, and was born incorruptible, yet was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and was laid in the manger of the brutes as if He were man; by the magi he was honoured with sacramental gifts, by the shepherds He was glorified, who sang with the angels; “Glory in the highest to God, and on earth peace, good will to men.” He was circumcised as man, He was presented in the temple as man, but the aged Simeon besought Him as from God. He was driven by persecution into Egypt, and there He turned the city of idol-worshippers to a knowledge of God. Thence He returned, and dwelt in Galilee in the city of Nazareth.
[p. 307] “But let not one of you stumble and say that Christ took His origin from the Virgin; for, according to the flesh, He appeared from the Virgin, but according to His Godhead, He is equal to the Father, as I said above. And let not one of you say that He brought His flesh and body from heaven, for He derived it from the Virgin. Nor let any one of you say that He was merely God or merely man, but rather that He is God and man, God in the flesh, and man in His Godhead, not confounded nor changed. For He says in the Proverbs: “The Lord acquired Me the beginning of all paths in His works, before that the abysses were, before the fountains of the waters, before all the hills He hath begotten Me; when He made ready His throne, I was with him. I it was with whom He was rejoicing.” But with regard to the flesh, He says that the mystery of the incarnation of Christ was, before the world came into being. However, He was fashioned incorruptible from the Virgin. This same only-begotten Word of the Father, who was incarnate by the holy Virgin, was silent for thirty years; but after that He was baptized by John in the river Jordan. And as He went up out of the water, the heaven was opened to Him, and the [p. 308] Holy Spirit descended in the visible form of a dove upon Him; and the Father from on high bore witness to His body that could be seen, saying: “He is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This John saw and marvelled, and hesitated to baptize Him; but the Lord said to Him: “Grant this now, for thus it is meet that we should fulfil all righteousness.” As the sinless John, son of the high priest Zachariah, bore witness to Christ, and said: “Behold, Christ, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.” For He was named Jesus from His birth, whom the angel heralded to Mary, but Christ from the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which came down into the Jordan in the likeness of a dove. And after this, He was tempted by Satan, but vanquished the tempter in a threefold manner; for He was for forty days without food, and the God who was united and joined in Him with man, enabled the man to triumph over vain glory and pride, and avarice and love of wealth. He walked among us yet another three years, and preached the good tidings of the kingdom of heaven. On the blind He bestowed sight, the lame He made to walk, the lepers He cleansed, demons He cast out, the legion He gave to the deep sea, the dead He raised, and healed all other pains and diseases; and many other works of power and greatness He wrought. But they did not receive Him, neither did they believe in Him, as saith the holy evangelist John, namely: “He came to His own, but His own received [p. 309] Him not,” and in all ways mankind went out after nothing and found nothing.
“But our Lord Jesus Christ for this reason came to suffer, in order that He might break the power of Satan. Sitting upon a young ass, He entered into Jerusalem, after He had summoned from the grave, where he had lain for four days, His loved Lazarus. He preached beforehand the destruction of hell, and therefore also the young men of the Jews went before Him with branches of palm and sang: “Hosanna in the highest, blessing to the son of David, peace upon earth and glory in the highest.” And He, even before this, had upon Mount Tabor, given a foretype of the mystery of His resurrection, with the testimony of Moses and Elias. And He came to Jerusalem on the great day of the Passover, an old and lawful festival, and on that day He also washed the feet of the disciples, and made them sharers of the holy mystery, and dispensed to His disciples His body and His blood. And having come to the cross, He was nailed upon it by the lawless Jews, and confirmed the words of the prophets who foretold concerning Him in their preachings. But at His crucifixion the sun was darkened and the rocks were riven, the earth was shaken, and the veil of the temple rent in twain. And at the same hour in which Adam went forth from the garden, in that same hour He gave the robber entrance into the garden, saying to him: “This day shalt thou be with Me in the garden.” He went down into hell alone, but went forth [p. 310] thence with a great multitude; He loosed them that were bound by Satan, but him He bound in darkness with bonds that shall never be loosed, and He brought to light the treasures of darkness. He rose from the dead on the third day. With the same incorruptible body He ascended into heaven, and with the same body He sat down on the right hand of the Father; and He cometh with the same body to judge all creatures.
“But then, O my brethren, those who were taken in madness were miserable; but now, by means of the cross of Christ, they have been raised to ineffable glory. But he who shall deny Him before men, is given over into the hands of hell. But think ye not that they are few who believe in Christ, but many those who worship the work of men’s hands; for I hope in our Lord Jesus Christ that this faith of ours will be so multiplied, that it will be rather spread abundantly [p. 311] over the face of the whole earth. But do ye, my friends, stand strong in this faith, which I have taught unto you, with candid heart, as to genuine brethren.”
10. And when the saint had finished the summary of his argument, Heladorus rose and asked him and said: “I pray thee, my lord Callistratus, when a man dies, what becomes of his soul, where does it go, or what does it do, or where does it dwell, whether in torment or in repose ?” The holy Callistratus said: “As Christ rose from the dead, so also must we rise and stand before His judgement-seat; and each of us will have to give answer according to his works, according as they are good or bad, in the day of reckoning. But the garden is made ready for them that are worthy of Him. Now when his last day comes upon a man, angels come to him; and when they see the soul of the man, if he is just, they rejoice, and they take it with psalms and hymns, and carry it eastwards, and they carry it past six [p. 312] spheres (or circles), past the storehouse of hail and snow, past the streams of rain, and past all the regions of storehouses, and past the spirits of wickedness which there are in the air; and they carry it in to the seventh circle, and set it down full opposite the glory of God, and he adores God in the seventh circle below the firmament; according to the preacher, who saith, that the flesh shall return to the dust whence it was created, but the spirit shall return to God who gave it. And the spirit, having returned by means of the providence of the angels of God, beholds the garden and the reward apportioned to its good works, and is glad with the hope of what is to come. However, without the body the spirit cannot receive its reward; but remains there and glorifies God in silence. But the places of their abode are below the firmament, above the sun. For when Christ died and descended into hell, He veiled His Godhead with His spirit; for His Godhead remained inseparable and undivided of body and soul. But when He had robbed hell, and liberated the spirits which were in prison, and given them over into the hands of the Father, then He gave them a dwelling-place in the air, below the firmament, in a place which was put [p. 313] high and lifted out of reach of the power of Satan, and of the wickedness of the air. For the evil powers of the air fight for our spirits, and for that reason our spirits are transmitted by means of angels and issue forth into regions high above the dwelling-place of the devil and of his host. But just as a good spirit is conveyed by means of good angels, so also an evil spirit is conveyed by means of bad angels; not that angels are bad, for the devil alone is bad, and the demons who comply with his bad wishes; but because men are evil doers and because of their impure courses, their angels also are in name called bad. Thus let us understand it: one soldier is sent by the king, to praise and do honour to the good and virtuous, but to slay and torment the evil-doers. Now in one and the same way, the angels of some men are good, and of others bad, because of their respective actions. Thus the angels are good and fond of man, and minister to the complete fulfilment of the will of the benevolent God, being holy and pure. When therefore the sinner dies, the angel takes this spirit, and bears it away in sorrow and grief, being ashamed of its works. Then at once there come upon him the demons of the air dancing, and they raise a war, and they name him as their own, and they clap their hands and leap. But the angel drives them back and murmurs fiercely against them, and so passes by them, and brings the spirit up to the seventh circle, underneath the water-borne firmament, and stations it there full opposite the [p. 314] glory of God, and then does homage in reverence before God. As it is written also in the psalm: “All the races which Thou hast made shall come and prostrate themselves before Thee, they shall make Thy name glorious for ever.” And by means of the angel the spirit beholds the place of judgement and the reward of his works, and he is grieved and perpetually laments the destruction of his soul. For when the spirit is separated from the body, it comprehends and beholds the future more clearly than if it were before its eyes. But until the judgement comes, the spirits receive not their rewards nor their torments; however, they know from their own deeds what they are going to receive, and apart by themselves they rejoice or sorrow, and with still voice they praise God in security. But the just are filled with desire to see the day of requital; but the sinners look at the deeds they have done, and they sorrow and lament, knowing full well what torments they are going to suffer in the day of judgement. But by the Divine goodness, patience and rest is bestowed on both sides until the day of reckoning. But to the Christians there is great hope even after death; for if there are anywhere parents or brothers, or children, or relatives, or anyone at all who is a Christian and who is compassionate, and who offers up prayers or consecrates oblations and alms, so gaining the intercession of the saints, they can thus consign to this great place of rest him who looked forward to torments. For God is propitiated and remits [p. 315] the sins of them who have fallen asleep by means of the offerings of Christ, which is sacrificed upon the holy table for the salvation and for the life and for the pardon of the living and the dead. But, my brethren, deceive yourselves not in your hearts, nor suppose that at the time of death the just man has received the rewards of his righteousness, or the sinner the sentence of his requital. For how can this be ? For our bodies remain here, but the soul passes alone and by itself into the afore-mentioned place. For if there be no resurrection, and if our bodies do not rise from the tombs and stand before the awful tribunal, and receive each according to its works, how would it be possible for the sinful flesh to be destroyed, and the soul alone judged. Perhaps a man might string together reasons, putting upon the body the harm of a man’s sins. The just therefore cannot receive their reward, nor the sinners their torments, until the coming of that day, concerning which Paul saith: “The trumpet sounds and the dead shall arise in the twinkling of an eye.” For, as Christ died, so He also arose with the same incorruptible body; not that it became incorruptible after His resurrection, God forbid ! for rather He put on Himself incorruptible from the Virgin, the sinful body of Adam, and absorbed and sunk its corruptibility in His Godhead, and with the same body thus made Divine, He died and rose. Even as my great-grandfather Okorus accurately heard and learnt in Jerusalem from the holy apostles, who, with their [p. 316] own eyes, saw Him upon the Cross, saw Him laid in the sepulchre, saw Him risen from the sepulchre; and when He came to His disciples in the upper chamber, wherein He made good the deficiencies in faith of Thomas, my great-grandfather Okorus saw him; and when the Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost he believed and was baptized by the holy apostles. I therefore learnt this from his tradition, and from the holy evangelists, and from the apostles, and from the prophets before them. But that which I teach you I say truly in Christ, and lie not, that as Christ rose, so we shall rise with the same body incorruptible, and shall stand before the tribunal of Christ, and shall enjoy the fruits of our respective works, according to the just and impartial award of Christ.
“But this also I teach you, brethren, that when they rise from the dead, after that there is not any expiation or remission of their sins, nor any intercession, for the door of the kingdom is shut to them who have not entered here in the body. As therefore ye henceforth know all this, my brethren, be ye zealous in good works, and hasten to enter before the door be shut.”
11. Domitianus made answer and said: “What dost thou say, my lord Callistratus ? Surely, then, those who sin are not judged at all in this world, and receive not here their requital, but for [p. 317] all the day of judgement is reserved to the other world ?” The holy Callistratus replied: “God is long-suffering and very compassionate, He desires not the death of a sinner who repents of his sins, and who is conscious of his transgressions, and acknowledges them, and falls down in prayer before God, lamenting, and saying from the bottom of his heart: “O God, expiate my sins,” and who thenceforth does righteousness. Though his sins be many, he is able to wipe them out by means of prayer, and fasting, and almsgiving; to him God remits them, God who is benign and not revengeful, and who desires that every man should live, and come to a knowledge of the truth. But if any one pollute himself for a long time in many sins, and blaspheme God, if he shall rob and stint the orphans, and oppress the widows, swearing falsely, and ridiculing them, adding extortion to extortion, and usury to usury, and if he grow rich out of his injustice, and treasure up his own damnation; if, in addition to all this, he should also soil himself with adultery, and with the abomination of all kinds of fornication, then the benevolent God looks upon him to see if he lingers and tarries over his evildoings, and after that He will apportion unto him in remembrance of his evil deeds, when he can no more be turned away from evil. And the life of such a one shall be destroyed, and his goods shall be plundered, and his body shall be destroyed, and taking with him his evil deeds alone, he shall pass miserably out of life, unburied in his own land; his orphans shall [p. 318] be plundered, and his life shall leave to trace of itself. This is the portion of them that are puffed up by their riches which they have gained by injustice, and who have not walked according to the commandments of God. But if a man be poor, and walk in the like evil path, he is troubled with miserable woes, being full of sin during his life, and the might of God is in no way a help to him; for God hates evil-doers, who return not from their evil paths. And such a one is found to have lost his riches, and to have forfeited all the good things of life, and even his bare wants of the body are not supplied to him. And if his life be prolonged, it is still more pitiable; and unless he devote himself to prayer, and do righteousness, he is miserable beyond all men. For straightway there come upon him tribulations and afflictions from which there is no escape, anguish that is intolerable, and all the means of life fail him. And frenzy, and care, and many other troubles befall him, and consume his flesh like a viper, and like a basilisk suck his blood; and he is the prey of detestable woes, leprosy and scurvy, and he shall desire only his daily fare, and shall not find it, and he shall be hateful and despicable to all, a laughing-stock, and source of scoffing, an eyesore, and a butt to all beholders; ambushes shall come on him whence he knows not, and he shall be smitten with unforeseen accidents. Yea, and many such take their own lives, and mercilessly massacre themselves on account of the woes that they cannot endure, and their memory is miserably [p. 319] effaced from their life. So it is for the poor man who soils himself with many sins, and regards not the commandments of God. But there is also another fate which may befall both classes, both those who live in evil doing and are rich, and also those who are poor. For God is merciful, and may grant them on earth long spell of health, and to suit His ends, even bestows unbroken prosperity in all directions; bodily health, fruitfulness of lands, fecundity of animals, respect and honour from great and little alike, life altogether without care, and long and glorious, an old age of pomp and honour, glory and praise, and a blessed death, and a great and famous funeral. And yet one who lives such a life as this, and does not walk in the commandments of God, which are light, and give light to the eyes; who rather contaminates himself all his time with savagery and cruel actions, and does not thank God nor glorify Him with good actions, nor recognise Him as the Giver of good things, fearing Him as is right and lawful to do, but who is ungrateful to God, and when he has good things vouchsafed to him by God’s grace, reckons it to his own merit; let not such a one have any rejoicing, for all the more will he be tortured in Gehenna, like the rich man who heard Abraham say, “Thou hast received thy good things in thy lifetime, and a great gulf is between me and thee.” But David also says, “Requite to my neighbours sevenfold into their bosoms their insults with which they have insulted Thee, O Lord;” and again, “I saw the impious [p. 320] man growing up and overtopping all like the cedars of Lebanon; I passed, and he was not; I sought, and his place was not found;” for their end is seen in the bottom of the pit, according to Him who talks in parables. This is the lot of every sinful man, whether he be rich or poor, who enjoys the good things of God, but doeth not His will. And, moreover, because of them there is tribulation upon the earth, either the onset of enemies, or sudden death, or famine, or hail, or any other of the afflictions on account of sin which befall all men at once, like the flood or the fire which consumed Sodom. For when a sinner inflames the wrath of his Creator, then the Divine anger descends upon him, like an involuntary repentance of sin.
“And now, since ye are new in the faith, and have not read the holy books; for it is written in the Book of Kings about Achab and Jezebel, because they inflamed the wrath of God, the Creator of all, by their idolatry, and extortions, and robbery; they slew His prophets, they destroyed His altars; one prophet alone was left, Elias by name, who was consumed with the zeal of the Almighty God, and he, by his prayers, curbed the clouds that they should not give rain, and hindered the dew from heaven, that no shoot might rise from earth according to its nature; for the word went forth from Elias, and shup up and closed the boundaries of the eternal, so that for three years and six months there was no rain, neither did the fountains play and spring up, [p. 321] because they were dried up. All creeping things also dwindled, the four-footed animals and the birds, for the Lord was wroth; and all blossoms and plants which were upon the earth were dried up. All the beauty of the earth was consumed, the earth was rent asunder to its depths by the drought, and all the kings and mighty ones of the earth staggered. The heavens rang like brass, and the earth roared like a heifer, and all living things repented against their wills because of the exceeding famine. But the word of a single prophet had command over all this, who built an altar to God, and brought down water from heaven, and cut off the false prophets of Baal, eight hundred and fifty men, and so appeased God’s wrath, that after that the door of His pity was opened upon the earth. Such were the afflictions which happened because of the sins of men; for they are chastised, even though they do not understand; for God acquits not the impious, because He is just and powerful. But He does not destroy them at once, because He is pitiful and long-suffering, and He is indulgent to the wickedness of men, in the hope that they will return to repentance. But if they continue in their sins without turning, He destroys them utterly, as He did Rehoboam and Bassa and Achab, the princes of Israel, who with their families were effaced with dishonour. But those who turn from their wickedness and repent, to them He vouchsafes remission of their sins, as He did to Manasses, King of Judea, and to Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon. But him [p. 322] who insults God, God destroys; as He did Senecherim and Antiochus, the kings of Assyria. Thus, then, it is that God chastises some of us here, and some of us in the future. Therefore, my brethren, let us follow after virtue, in order that we may be glorified with Christ, both here and in the future.”
Then Evarestos made answer, and said: “My lord Callistratus, is it according to the number of days that God terminates the world, or is it according to chance ? Otherwise, how is it that men die unexpectedly, either by hunger or thirst, or on the sea, or in rivers, or in the fire, or by any other of the accidents which may bring about dissolution of the lives of men; or it may be that one comrade slays another, or a man dies by the agency of a demon, or suddenly ? But when a man dies either in his youth or in old age, is the tale of his days fulfilled ? And so, too, with those who fall in war, for, behold, many of our host fell in the war with the Persians ?” The holy Callistratus said: “Learn ye also concerning this, my brethren; for at the beginning God said to Adam, “Dust thou wast, and to dust shalt thou return.” And at same time the edict of death went forth upon men from their birth, even to their old age. And not only is death ordained unerringly by nature, like other things that are weighed and calculated; but the knowledge thereof is in the hands of God alone, who is the Lord of life and death. Not that it is ordained that all should reach to old age; for many a time a father has [p. 323] died in his youth, but his sons have reached an extreme old age; and the sons have died in youth before their fathers, as happened in the very beginning, for Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years, and Seth, his son, nine hundred and twelve, but his other son had not yet arrived at even a hundred years when he was slain by Cain his brother. But death is appointed for all; not but what there are some who are given a long life because of their just works, while to others God shortens life because of the excess of their sins; and in the case of some He pities their tears, and adds to their life, as in the case of Hezekiah, and for others He lengthens life because of the prayers of widows and orphans, and sometimes parents because of the tears of children, and children because of their parents’ tears, have been brought back from death. And there are many requirements of the world, on account of which He adds to the life of men, both adds and takes away. But the blow of death also falls upon men because of their sins, sometimes by the sword, sometimes by fire, sometimes by water, or some other way of those in which the blow can fall. But a man may contend against us in argument, and say that he will not die because his day has not yet come, and for that reason he will boldly venture to go upon the sea when it is stormy, or into a river that is in flood, or on a snowy mountain, or [p. 324] on a scorched plain, or among wild beasts, or he will take harmful food; in such cases death comes not as a surprise and ambush, nor is it accidental, but it is a wilful dissolution of life, and they who so act are reckoned with those who die by their own sin. But there are also other forms of death, from the temperament of the body, from cold, or bile, or blood, or some other of the accidents by which life is dissolved. But as I said before, death is appointed to that life in man which he shares with the plants, and therefore, the Lord said, “Pray that ye be not led into temptation,” for ye must at all times pray diligently, and say, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.” For many are the snares which are set by the Evil One; for throughout our lives he lays deadly ambushes in rivers, in fields, in mountains, on the plains, in the fire, at the hands of a wicked man, by a man’s own act in strangling himself through his irascibility, as in the case of Judas and Achitophel; and in many other ways he lays deadly snares, and death is fated for him that is caught. But we must pray to God continually to preserve us from evil accidents, and in His grace bestow upon us a good end. There are also other forms of death, as when a stone should fall from a wall through ignorance, or the branch of a tree may fall upon us, or we may be butted by an ox, or thrown from a horse, or we may tread upon a sword, or meet a wild beast, or be bitten by a viper; all these are evil accidents, and they occur because man is puffed up with his strength, so [p. 325] that God remits His aid, and then man becomes ridiculous, and falls into all kinds of deadly snares; wherefore it is necessary that ye should be watchful, and pray to God, for he who prays to God with all his heart, to him the very snares become a source of good, as Paul said: “He will with the temptation also make the way of escape, in order that we may be able to suffer it.” But there is not allotted to Satan any foreknowledge, but he knows very little of the time of man’s death. However, he abides continually in the evil man, and if the pity of God did not prevent him in the case of each man, he would destroy all men together. And on account of this the Lord says, “Be careful, lest your hearts be weighed down with dissoluteness, or drunkenness, or worldly cares, and that day come suddenly upon you, as an ambush is sprung upon all men who dwell over the whole face of the earth. Be watchful, and for ever make prayers, that ye be accounted worthy to escape from all that which is to come, and to stand before the Son of man;” but death in war is open and not secret, for every one who takes a sword in his hand and goes into war, either slays another or himself dies; but if he survives and is left whole, the providence of God has intervened. All the time of man’s life, therefore, is destined, but all sort of snares beset him during his life. But if a man humble himself, and prostrates himself before God, he is delivered from [p. 326] them; for although even his body be exacted of him, yet his spirit goes rejoicing to its Creator, in the way in which I before described.
“But let us, brethren, stand firm, for I trust in Christ, that by His hope we shall all overcome the machinations of the devil, and receive the emblem of victory. Listen to me, my brethren, in case it befall me to die before you. Forasmuch as ye are intimate with me, I would have you know that many a time Satan fought with me in my youth; but I hope in my Lord that now he will be worsted by me; for much alms have I given, and was proud as if I had won the whole realm. For when a man gives alms, he saith not, “I have proffered but of that which God gave me”, but rather, is puffed up, as if he had given what was his own, and declareth that he hath done something great. Nay, rather have we received the command to minister to the poor, and we ought so to give, that what our left hand doeth our right hand should not know. That is to say, let not the devil on the left hand steal away the grace that the better hand wrought. But do ye, my dear friends, be on your guard, because all this is of the devil, for he opposeth everything that is good. For many a time hath he been able to filch away my mind, when he saw that I was praying with tears to God my Helper. At such times he would distract my mind, and would agitate all kinds of earthly cares, and intrude them on my soul, and would prompt me to gape and yawn. But I spurned him, and thus the adversary was not able [p. 327] to steal me away. For God takes account, not only of those who sing hymns and pray in the churches, but also of the very steps and foot-prints of those who, with sincere faith, enter into the temple of God. And whatsoever a man wishes to ask he knows beforehand, and vouchsafes the prayers which are according to His will; and whersoever there is a man who bends the knee, and prays with his whole heart, unto him God hearkens, and will give all that he needs with free grace. For if thou sayest, “Have pity upon me, O God,” He knows thy meaning, and understands that which thy words represent. Therefore, dear friends, it profits the adversary nothing when he desires to snatch away our understanding, and intrudes all sorts of thoughts among our prayers. But who is there of men who knows not this: that man is prompt to sin, and wearies not therefrom, and is eager to transgress; but in prayer he is weak and idle, and remiss, and is faint and drowsy, and thinks that all this is a nautral affection, instead of being an invention of the devil ? But understand this, my brethren, that all these things are inspirations of the evil one, from which we must flee, and with faithful diligence, glorify God, who made the heavens and earth, the sea, and all that is in them.”
Lysimachus made answer, and said: “My lord Callistratus, did God really make the heavens and earth, the sea, the moon, and the stars ?”
The holy Callistratus said: “Did I not tell you that, even while ye learn or pray, ye slumber ? Did ye not apprehend what I said before, in [p. 328] answer to the question of our brother Bemarchus ? But come, do you tell me, then; How did you learn about them from your fathers ? or how did ye reverence those things made with hands which ye used to call God ?” They made answer all at once, and said: “We learnt thus, that the heavens came into being of themselves, and so also the earth, and that the sun is the god of gods, because he gives light, and that the stars are the images of the gods.”
The holy Callistraus replied, “Learn also concerning this, my brethren, lest Satan trip you up. All this world which is visible is the creation of the heavenly and single and beginningless and increate Holy Trinity, and of the single Godhead. For it founded heaven and earth. It drew the heavens across like a tent, and stretched them out like curtains, and by its word, fixed and made sure the watery firmament, and vaulted it, so that it was round like a ball; and established the earth above the waters, and the waters upon nothing at all. And the earth trembles and is afraid at His presence; for He made rifts in the firmament and above the illimitable expanse of the torrents of ocean, which has under itself all the elements, the upper and the nether ones. Likewise He made also the stars, and set them in the vault-like firmament to illumine the darkness. But the sun, by a law which never ceases, runs his courses; for he goes forth from the region of the portals of the east, and he travels along the south, revolving like a wheel, till he comes home to the west, and there [p. 329] he enters the portals of the west; and then forthwith darkness covers all things as the night is drawn over them.
“But when he has entered, and sunk below the vast prison bars of the south, in the nether firmament, he runs in the direction of the right hand, until he reaches once more the portals of the East, and masks the darkness with his light. So, also, the moon fulfils her courses according to the same law, waxing and waning as she approaches the sun, or goes away therefrom in her period of thirty days. And how can your teaching be true that the sun is God ? If he were God, how would he obey the law, and be enslaved by it ? How could he suffer, and be subject to affections, as when he is sometimes covered with clouds, and sometimes darkened ? In the same way, also, the moon and the stars likewise fulfil their courses according to command. In one and the same manner, they all leap up from the east, and they travel to the setting of the sun, and they return to the right of the north without entering the gates of heaven; but they revolve themselves in the firmament, and fulfil their entire courses by day according to the order of each of them, until they reach the east by way of the south, wherein are seen by us the vestiges of their paths. But many concoct fables, and say that the heavens revolve, whose words are vain; for the firmament is immovable. But many of the stars run in a circular path, and some of them are fixed, and have the rest of the stars to turn round themselves; as is the case with the [p. 330] northern stars, which are, by some, called Arcturus, but by some Hephtasagiron; but by the farmers, it is called the Wain, and by sailors Bazmojth, for these stars do not alter from their path, but revolve where they are. But other stars have a period of their own, in which they fulfil their courses, as, for example, Aruseak (Venus) and Mazaroth, and the Alosounk (? The Pleiades), and Haik (Orion). Each of these obeys its period, according as it was appointed to do; as it was also written: “The moon and the stars which Thou hast established.” But the prophet, in speaking of the firmament, does not mean that it is immovable, and in that sense speak of its immovability; but he alludes to its strength, because they are subservient to an invincible and unerring command before their God. And now, my brethren, cast away the vain preaching; for God made all creation, but He honoured man alone with His image, and made everything subservient under his feet. And it is meet for man to know Him, because, for his sake, all creation was established out of nothing; for his sake the sun fulfils his unerring command, and the moon her course, according to her command; for his sake all the most ancient stars were set in order, which men of vain understanding called gods, giving them the names of animals, as for example, of the Ram, and the Bull, of Capricorn, and the Virgin, and the Yoke, and so forth. And they go on thence to conduct researches of a kind, and profess to derive from them seasons of plenty and famines; and they also [p. 331] declare that the fortunes and the terms of men’s lives are ordered by them, in order that they may deceive men with empty words. But these constellations are appointed to make clear to us the various seasons, and to indicate to sailors their path over the sea. For man’s sake were made the rivers and the mountains, and every blade of grass, and every plant. By the word were they manifested upon the earth; but man alone, on the earth, was honoured with the image of the immortal and benevolent God who made him. But he yielded to deceit, and fell into sin, and became mortal, and was ensnared by the outward appearance of the evil one, and by his false and empty flattery. And now, brethren, it is a great task all over this earth for man to save his soul. But let us labour to receive the token of victory in war, wherever there is contention with the devil, and let us boldly defy the evil warrior, and let us be found to have conquered his lawless pride, and he shall be worsted by us, and fall, never to rise again; but we, having escaped from the delusions of life, shall receive the crown of undying glory from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom is glory for ever and ever, Amen.”
12. And when he had said this, he was silent for a while, for it was late even-tide; and the whole night long he remained in prayer until the dawn. But there was a certain scribe of the [p. 332] law-court, who was near to the prison, and he listened to the discourse of the holy Callistratus, and wrote it down in shorthand on paper, and gave it to us; and we set in order with all accuracy the record and outline of his thought. But at dawn the captain Presentinus took his seat upon the throne of judgement, and commanded them to be brought before him. And they brought them into the great court in which were set up many images of idols. There were mustered together not only the captains of the force, but the whole number of the soldiers. The captain said: “How is it, O Callistratus, hast thy schooled thyself and those of the king’s soldiers that were inveigled by thee ? Hast thou instructed them to sacrifice to the gods, and save themselves from torture ?” The holy Callistratus said: “As to myself, I have given this answer and adhere to it, that nothing shall persuade me to forsake Christ my hope; but as to them, they are themselves grown up, and of full age, so ask them.” The captain said: “What do ye say, who have been deceived, and have assented to this babbler ?” They made answer and said: “O unworthy man, and shameless, if thou wilt still keep us on the list of thy band, we shall not resist; but as to our worship and religion, we believe in the King of heaven and earth, in the God of all, and in His Offspring Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, for He is [p. 333] God in three persons, a Trinity, but one Godhead, and one power; without flaw is He, and full of wisdom, which is and was and abides for ever, as our teacher Callistratus taught us.” 13. But the captain commanded that they should be scourged with green switches; and after the scourging he ordered them to be bound hand and foot and dragged all of them to the edge of a lake, and said to them: “Sacrifice to the gods, for if not, ye shall be drowned in the waters.” But they said: “We believe in the true God, do thou what thou wilt.” But when they were about to be thrown into the great lake, which was called Oceanus, the holy Callistratus fell to praying and said: “God eternal, who art unapproachable and all-powerful, who didst establish the heavens by Thy might to be Thy throne immoveable for ever, and the earth to be Thy footstool; look upon this Thy flock, and be among us and save us from destruction, and grant that these waters be unto these men for the baptism of regeneration. Make them worthy to be washed with the eternal and pure baptism, unto the casting away of the vanity of the old man, and unto their participation with those who labour for Thy cross. Grant us, O Lord, to come unto Thy treasuries, by means of this washing, in order that we may be fellow-workers with Thy Holy Spirit in these waters. For glorious is the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.”
[p. 334] But when they had said with one accord Amen, they threw them bound into the water; and in the same moment the bonds of the saints were loosed, and they came to the top of the water and passed on to dry land, resplendent with the grace of the Holy Spirit. And as they came out of the water, there went forth a voice from Heaven saying: “Be of good cheer, My loved ones, for I am with you; be ye glad, for, behold, I have made ready for you a place in My kingdom. Rejoice, for I have written your names in My record in the Book of Life.” And there was terrible thunder and a great earthquake, so that the images of the idols fell down and were broken. But when we saw the light which shot forth over the heads of the saints, and heard the blissful voice along with the earthquake and the breaking of the idols, we believed, – we, the soldiers, a hundred and five of us. Then the lawless Presentinus was taken with great fear, and he ordered them to be led into prison. And when they had entered into prison, the holy Callistratus again taught them, and said: “Men and brothers, behold the Lord hath summoned us to Himself. For I received baptism from my very youth, but now He has called you also; arise, therfore, and let us pray.” So they raised their hands and he began to say: “Lord, Lord, how wonderful is Thy name for ever, who, before all things didst with Thy infinite word establish all things; who [p. 335] art the Lord of indestructible and invisible and flawless treasures; preserve this Thy flock, and deliver it from the mouth of the lion, and lead it into eternal salvation. And make us worthy to die in Thy confession. Save us spotless and pure from the sin-loving life. Bring us in at the narrow gate into the royal temple, that we may praise with holy and unresting voices the all-blessed name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever.”
14. But the lawless and impious captain, Presentinus, took counsel with a vir ducenarius, and sent into prison and beheaded them, for the soldiers of Christ were fifty in number. And the saints died in the month Hori, on the twenty-seventh day thereof. But we soldiers who believed when we saw the vision of the wonders, and were baptized in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we came privily in the night, and we took up the relics of the saints, and laid them in a proper place. Wherefore the Lord [p. 336] made us worthy to establish His church in Rome in the name of the saints, and we built in the name of the holy Callistratus a place of expiation for sinners, and a meeting-house of union for angels and men; for the glory and worship of the All-holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Passion of St. Christopher (BHL 1764)
The passion of the most blessed martyr saint Christopher and his companions who suffered in the city of Antioch under Decius Caesar on 10 July.
1. At that time there was much madness, and a great multitude of idol worshippers. When therefore this madness was growing stronger in its opposition to the Christian faith, there was sent forth an edict from the emperors of that time that all who worshipped God should taste the unclean food of idolatry, and that those who objected should be delivered up and subjected to different penalties. When they received this edict from the sacrilegous emperor, the governors devastated the church of God. In order that all of us Christians might learn that Our Lord not only helps Christians, but also rewards those from nations who are only recently converted to the Lord, and judges them acceptable in their knowledge of Him, [I tell the following tale]. There was a certain man who, since he was a foreigner from the land of man-eaters, had a terrible appearance, a dog’s head as it were. He was captured in war by the counts at that time, and was led to the king. He posted him in the numerus Marmaritarum which stood at the king’s hand. But when the most wicked edict was published by the governor this most blessed man was not able to speak our language.
2. However, he was greatly disturbed at heart. He went out of the palace gates, threw himself upon his face, and prayed to the Lord to give him through Christ’s virtue the ability to speak [our language]. Moreover God, who loves the human race, did not delay, but immediately appeared at his side in the guise of a shining figure, and said, “Rise.” He took his hand and straightened him up. Opening His mouth He breathed into him and gave him the spirit of understanding, and he began to say whatever he wanted. And the Lord said to him, “Take comfort, and act courageously; for many will believe in me through you. Fight it out well, so; for I am with you lest you fear how you are to talk to the king.” So when he had received this grace from God, he went in resolute at heart, and saw the many who were being tortured, and began to speak, “You servants of a wicked and fickle cult, you are surrendering your souls to Satan, and you are willing to destroy along with yourselves those who fear God.” And he added, “I am a Christian, and I will not sacrifice to your cursed demons.” And as he spoke he held his cloak before his face. But one of the insolent servants, hearing him blaspheme against the gods, began to hit him in the face. When he had given him three slaps, the other threw down his garments and said to him who had hit him, “I am possessed by Christ, I have been overcome by the Saviour, and I am not able to do anything to you. However, if you exasperate my heart, you will not remain in my presence, nor will your corrupt king.”
3. Then, seeing his face which was unchanged and terrible, he retreated, and fled to the king, saying, “There is a certain man of terrible appearance, one who towers over most men, who appeared in sight of all the people when the edict was being published by the governor. In fact, who could explain the appearance of this apparition, except perhaps that the God of the Christians heard their prayers and sent him to help them ? Unless you hurry and kill him he will turn all from the sacrifices of the gods.” The king said to him, “You have a demon, and he appeared to you this way. What did you see ? Speak.” He replied, “I tell my lord what I saw. His head was terrifying, like that of a dog. His hair was very long, and gleamed like gold. His eyes were like the morning star, and his teeth like the tusks of a boar. Words are not sufficient to tell of his greatness. Moreover, he said the most disgraceful things against you and the gods. So when I heard such talk, I began to beat him. But he said to me, “I am possessed by Christ, but if I were not, I would kill you and your king. And I therefore report these things to you my lord king, that you might know that what I say about this man is true.” The king Decius said, “Is he one of our men ? Why does he say such things ?” The other replied, “I do not know, my lord.” Then Decius gave orders to his soldiers, saying, “Go and get him. If he does not agree to come with you, rip him to pieces, only bring his head to me that I might see what he was like, if it was him or another.”
4. While they were discussing these things, Reprobus entered the house of the Lord, set his stick before the altar opposite the window, and falling on his face, prayed saying, “Lord my God, make that stick grow leaves again if you have truly called me to contemplate your words.” And immediately the stick grew leaves, and his faith comforted Reprobus. Then, readying his mind, he prayed saying, “I thank you, Lord my God, that you have thought me, a humble sinner, worthy to share in your grace.”
5. While he was praying a certain woman, as was her habit, entered to gather roses, and seeing him sitting and weeping she reversed back out. She went away and told her neighbours, saying, “There is a man of God here. But already tortures are being prepared against him, I know.” While she was saying this soldiers arrived seeking Reprobus. Moreover, when they heard the woman’s words they asked, “Where is the man ? Show us.” And she showed them where he was sitting. The soldiers entered, and said to him, “Who are you and why are you crying ?” He replied, “I more than any other ought to weep bitterly because when I was ignorant of God I was never accused, but now that I know God I suf- fer a tyrant.” The soldiers said to him, “We have been sent to you to lead you bound to our king.” Thus Christ’s athlete replied, “You do not have the power to bind and take me, if I do not go of my own accord. For my Christ is pre- sent, and could free me from my chains and rescue me from your father Satan.” When they heard these things they were too disturbed to speak any further to him. God glorified his servant indeed.
6. The soldiers said to him, “If you do not want to come with us, rest, and we will go away and tell the king, “We did not find him”, and you leave and go wherever you want.” But blessed Reprobus replied, “Not that way; but I shall actually go, and reveal to you the power of God. Only wait for me a little while.” They said to him, “We are paid according to the length of time we spend looking for you. If you do not want to come with us now, stay.” And he said to them, “Hear my words, and you will eat well.” The soldiers focussed their attention and replied, “What is it that you want ? Tell us.” And he replied, “Put aside those cares which have enthralled you, and I will pray to my Lord for you, and you will see the power of my God.” He spoke a second time to them, “The God in whom I believe lives, and I will give you the bread of his abundance.” They replied, “We believe you, because you are the servant of a great God.” Then the holy one prayed, saying, “Lord Jesus Christ who blessed the five loaves and fed the great multitude, my God, hear me your servant, take pity on me, that all these standing here might be made your servants by this prayer and glorify the true God.”
7. The Lord heard the prayer of his servant, and sending an angel blessed the loaves, and they were multiplied so that all were satisfied, and filled their sacks. They glorified God and said, “The God of the Christians is truly great, and has listened to those who hope in him. We believe in Him through you who worked these wonders, because He is able to save us.” Blessed Reprobus began to recite the psalms, saying, “Bless the Lord now, all you servants of the Lord.” Moreover, the soldiers joined in response. When the psalm had been com- pleted, they knelt down and gave worship. When they rose they summoned the priest of the holy place, Peter by name. He came and baptized the soldiers, just as he also baptized blessed Reprobus, and named him Christopher, that is Bearer-of-Christ.
8. When they were baptized they rejoiced in the Lord, and Christopher began to encourage them saying, “My most beloved brothers, he whom you have confessed, or to whose service you have been called, is God, and has called you to His kingdom. What do you want us to do ?” As one they said to him, “God has enlightened us through you. So now you are one of us, and let what you want be done.” He said to them, “Let us go to the king, therefore, that we might receive a better crown.” They all went with enthusiasm since God was with them. Blessed Christopher addressed them a second time, “Brothers, see that you do without hesitation all that is commanded of you when you have brought me to the king. For my part I will pray for you, and just as you will see me suffer, you will do likewise.” As he was saying this they were hurrying to the city. And blessed Christopher said to them, “Brothers, tie me up, in case anyone who sees me unbound should perhaps make accusations against you, and you should be found to be at fault on my account.” Thus they produced a chain which had been prepared. He put his hands behind his back, and they bound him, like a ram chosen from a great herd, readied for sacrifice to God.
9. When he saw Christopher’s face the king fell off his seat. The most brave athlete of Christ said to him, “O most unfortunate and corrupt king ! If you are so afraid of me a servant of God, how are you going to account to God ? For God has it in his power to punish you, and he will demand from your hands the lives which you have destroyed.” The king, Decius, said, “What is your religion, or your nationality, or what are you called ? The most blessed one replied, “If you want to know my religion, I am a Christian. My face reveals my nationality. My name, that which I was called by my parents, is Reprobus; but after I was enlightened I was called Christopher. Decius the king said, “That name which you have given yourself after the one called Christ is use- less, because it will be of no advantage to you. Now sacrifice to the gods, and by the gods, that you might receive honours and rewards from me.” But the most blessed one replied to the king, “I neither desire your wealth nor admire your life; but know that I I put my faith in my king the Saviour Jesus Christ. Do what you want, then: for I will not ofer sacrifice to the demons who are deaf, just as you yourself are also deaf.”
10. Decius said, “You do not know where you are standing, to say such things. You are storing up for yourself bitter torments.” Christopher replied, “Do you not know, O king, that while you torture me you anger God and do honour to the demons ?” Then, enraged, the king ordered that he be hung up and torn with hooks. Many hours went by, and the holy martyr said nothing in reply, but only prayed and spoke to God. Again the king ordered that he be viciously tortured. And when Christopher’s ribs had been laid bare, the king’s servants said to him, “Take pity on yourself, and us, and sacrifice. What harm is it to you to say “I sacrifice”, and live ?” The most blessed one replied, “If you saw your eternal punishment, you would not torture the servants of God.”
11. Then the governor said, “There are two women, prostitutes, in this city. Order these to be brought here, clothed with the costliest garments, with var- ious perfumes, and let us shut him in a small apartment with them, so that they can seduce him, and convert him to our lusts.” This talk pleased the king. And when this had been done, the women, wanting to achieve victory, just as they had been taught to arouse pleasure, talked softly, clapped their hands, and surrounded him. Blessed Christopher had been engaged in prayer. And when his prayer was finished he rose from the place where he was praying, and said to the women, “What do you want ?” They answered thus, “Your face ter- rifies us,” and they did not dare to speak to him.
12. Again he said to them, “Why have you come here ?” But they said to them- selves, “We have sinned greatly, because hard times befell us. If he keeps on threatening us, we will perish. What will we do now ? The gods do not help us.”
13. Moreover they said to saint Christopher, “We believe in the God whom you have confessed, if only he forgets our sins.” He said to them, “What are your sins ? Are you conscious of guilt for murder or other wicked deeds ? Speak, that I may pray for you to the Lord.” They replied, “Not at all, lord. Those are not our sins, but we are conscious that we were prostitutes and behaved accordingly. Until now we have been harlots and pagans. All the more so now do we rescue from death those whom we can, and redeem those sold as slaves.” When they were saying this the jailer entered and said to them, “Get up. Here is your call. The king summons you. But, I beg you, holy man of God, not to forget me in your virtuous martyrdom.” Saint Christopher was then brought to the king. Consequently the king ordered that the two women be brought to him, and he said to them, “What is it ? Have you persuaded this man to offer sacrifice to the gods ?” They replied, “We agree no more with the great king, and there is no salvation in any god except him who is, just as the servant of God declares, the one and only God who made heaven and earth. But your gods cause ruination, and have never been able to achieve anything for anyone except to lead them to damnation.” Decius the king said, “Have you also been seduced by his magic, and put your trust in him ?”
14. One of them, Gallenice by name, replied, “We have not been seduced by his magic, but we willingly put our faith in God, and are willing to die for him.” Decius said, “Summon the joiner to me.” His aide replied, “He is present, Lord.” Decius said, “Make for me a cubit-length wooden square, and cut it down the middle. Finish it, and bring it to me, that I may put a painful end to her life.” When the joiner had finished it, it was readied in the sight of the king. He ordered that her breasts be put through it, that she be suspended by her hair, and that two mill-stones be hung from her feet. Her ribs were torn apart by the weight, and the flesh and skin of her neck split, so that she no longer seemed human. As he watched blessed Christopher prayed, saying, “My God, remember your servant, because she is your slave.” And he said to her, “Your journey has been completed, your prayer accepted. Go to the Lord, and remember me.” As he said these things to her, blessed Gallenice came to her happy end.
15. When she had died, the king ordered the servant of God Aquilina to be brought to him. And he said to her, “Aquilina, take pity on yourself and sacrifice to the gods, and by the gods, I will not spare the gold, but I wiil erect statues of you throughout all the cities, and I will honour you mag- nificently in order for you to recognise that it is a good thing to worship the gods.” Aquilina replied, “And to what gods are you ordering me to offer sacrifice ?” Decius answered, “Sacrifice to Hercules, Jupiter, and Apollo.” Aquilina said, “I ought to trust your commands and offer sacrifice to the gods.” Decius replied, “You are acting like a sensible woman.” He ordered that great linen mats be rolled out for her to walk upon, from the palace all the way to the temple, and that different perfumes be sprinkled before her, and that heralds proclaim in front of her and say, “Aquilina, most beloved of the gods, sacrifices to the gods. Assemble everyone.” She entered the temple of the idols and said to the people standing there, “Watch me and the sacrifice which I make.” She climbed to the place where the statues stood and said to the statue of Jupiter, “Are you a god ?” It made no reply to her. She said again, “Speak to me if you are truly a god. I have come as your servant. What do you want me to do ?” There was not a word or reply. The servant of God said, “Woe to me a sinner ! They are angry because I have offended them.”
16. But the priests said, “Repent, and the great god Jupiter will take pity on you.” Laughing she replied, “I will ask them not to take pity on my sin.” And saying this she took her belt, and tied her handkerchief about the statue of Jupiter, and pulling it towards her, she threw the statue down. It was immediately smashed to pieces as fine as sand. Then she ran to Apollo and said, “These gods are not awake, but sleep, so they do not hear their personal servants.” In a similar manner she tied her belt to this statue, and threw it down. It was broken into three pieces. The result was that all who were watch- ing cried out, “The audacity of the woman who does not fear such statues !” And she said to Hercules, “Get going, if you are a god, so that I do not destroy you.” And she jumped up, grabbed the idol with her hands, and threw it down. She said to the people standing by, “Call the doctors, and let them cure your gods.” Again she spoke, “Alas for the human race which is in terror of the demons.” Moreover, the blessed soldiers rejoiced greatly. But the devil, seeing himself mocked, was angry at his priests, and said, “Why have you done this to me ? Why have you brought this mischief-maker to me ? Get up, grab her, and take her to the king for him to destroy her.”
17. Then, rising, the priests caught her, and brought her to the king, saying, “Why did you send this madwoman to us ? She has smashed the great gods, and if we had not caught her she would not have let one escape.” Then the king said to her, “Wicked woman, did you not agree with me to offer sacrifice to the gods ?” And she replied to him, “O king, I offered the sacrifice that I ought. Moreover, permit me, if you wish, to sacrifice to the rest.”
18. Then the king was very much angered, and he ordered an awl to be brought, and for her heel to be pierced for it to penetrate as far as her shoulder. He commanded that she be hung up in this manner, and that two mill-stones be attached to her feet, and one to her neck. Seeing these things the servant of God said to saint Christopher, “I beg you, servant of God, pray for me while I struggle.” Then the most blessed Christopher cried, “O Lord my God, do not permit your maid to be tortured for a long time, but receive her spirit because she is your servant.” As he prayed God’s maid-servant died. And when this most blessed woman was deceased the tyrant ordered that the bodies of the two most blessed women and martyrs be kept for burning. They died on the 24 June.
19. Then the king ordered that most blessed Christopher be brought forward, and he said to him, “You most wickedly named and ugly man, you who are sepa- rateed from the gods, you ought rather only to have died, and not to have destroyed the ornaments of this city by your magic skills.” Christopher replied, “I was not the author of that work, but Christ, who has chosen his own gold and deigned me worthy to serve him in his palace. You, king, act and be comforted, that you may know how you meet the mulititude who believe in God. For many ought to believe through me.”
20. And looking towards the soldiers he said, “Come, let us join together to earn the greatest crowns.” Moreover, they, just as they were returning from a trip abroad, immediately threw down their arms and their clothing in front of the king, and fell down at the feet of saint Christopher. They praised him, saying, “Hail, servant of God on high. Your calling has been made a lamp for us.” And they said to the king, “We are Christians, and we sacrifice no more now to demons.” Decius said, “Alas for me, you have been turned into my oppressors.” Blessed Christopher said, “Do not be afraid. No successor to you has risen from Hell. For we are Christians.
21. Then the king ordered the servant of God to withdraw, and he began to talk to them in private, “My sons, how have I wronged you that you desert me ? Per- haps your horses have been lacking, or your clothing or ration is not suffi- cient ? Come so, I apologise, and will make satisfaction for whatever wrong I have done. I ask you merely not to desert me, and I will give you many rewards. But as one they replied to the king, “Sit on our horses yourself, and eat our rations, and wear our uniforms in the great underworld which is going to receive you, and enjoy there your whole inventory. But since meeting the most perfect servant of God we receive true nourishment, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and despise the fire and torments [of hell].” Then, angered, the tyrant said, “In case any others should perhaps join them, let them be quickly killed.” He therefore ordered that their heads be cut-off. His ser- vants immediately beheaded them.
22. After these things Decius ordered saint Christopher to be brought forward and said to him, “Wretched man, how has such madness profited you ? Offer sacrifice, and spare yourself the torments which await you.” Most blessed Christopher replied to the king, “Demon of many forms, son of Satan, it is enough to confound you. You will not prevail over me, even if you were to inflict several times as much upon me.” Annoyed the king ordered a bronze bench to be made to the height of a man and set in the middle of the city. He ordered that the saint be fastened by nails to the top of the bench. And when this had been done he ordered that plenty of wood be brought, and that a great deal of olive nuts, 18 measures of olive-oil, and a lot of pitch be poured over the wood, and thus they fuelled the fire with these three ingredients.
23. When the pitch and the olive-oil had heated up a fiery flood ran down through the edge of the fire, so that a crowd of the pagans perished. More- over, by the will of God a wind blew up and thrust the flames against the houses which were nearest and set them alight. Thirty houses fell. When the fire had died out there came to see the death of the most blessed martyr a crowd of pagans and Christians, that they might acquire the blessing of his relics. And when they were all weeping most blessed Christopher rose and stood on the bench, saying, “Brothers, listen to me all of you. I saw myself in this hour standing in the middle of a city, and I saw a beautiful man. His face shone like the sun, his garments were radiant like the light. Moreover, I am incapable of describing his crown. There were also a few soldiers with him. And I saw another, dark and most terrible to behold. The hair of his head was like an intricate chain. They joined battle, and the ignoble one grew stronger against the noble one, and he gloried in his confidence. However, a short space of the hour went by, the one doing the glorying changed, and he overcame the other. He destroyed his army, and banished his will.”
24. When the people heard these things they cried out, saying, “There is one God, he in whom saint Christopher believes. He has certainly not laboured in vain. He knows the one to whom he fled. And we believe, hoping that we can save ourselves through you, Lord God.” And ten thousand people believed at the same time, and cried out, saying, “Almighty God, we believe in you. Take pity on us, Our Saviour, and make us your worthy servants, Christ, and do not give us wealth for your booty; but give to your servants, Lord, the bath of immortality and the garment of incorruption, because your’s is the glory forever and ever, amen.” And when they had prayed, behold three priests came and baptized them, and sang psalms, saying, “Come to the Lord and be enlightened, and let not your faces blush.” And when they were all praising God, Satan was struck with sorrow; transformed into a man he went off to the king and said to him, “The gods have thought of you as less suitable because you have not succeeeded in harming one of the impious, but you have rather been defeated instead. You will perhaps be killed even, if you do not flee. Ten thousand have unanimously put their faith in Christ, and they seek to kill you. I heard them speaking thus, and I rushed to tell you.” When the king heard these things he fled.
25. When morning came he ordered that the sacrifices be celebrated. The heralds cried out, saying, “Gather everyone to pay sacrifice to the gods,” and they ran up hurriedly. But most blessed Christopher, catching a crowd of Christians, went to the place where the fires had been, and began to recite the psalms, saying, “Paradise is clear. Let us wait a little while until we are crowned.” And the ten thousand replied together, so that because of the sweetness of their chant a crowd of pagans gathered to them. Moreover, the wretched devil, approaching the king again, said to him, “You have destroyed my worship, if you do not hurry up.” Then the king, burning with great anger, gathered together a crowd from his army, and went to the place where were those who believed in God. He counted seven individuals, and cut them entirely to pieces. For he did not behead them as was the custom, but he fell upon them like the wolf attacks a flock when the shepherd is away.
26. When this had been done the tyrant ordered a furnace to be made, and their bodies to be thrown into it; and seated nearby he ordered that they be com- pletely cremated. The king’s servants held two-pronged irons in their hands, and breaking up the bones which were not on fire they pushed them into the flame, where they burned. Again the wicked king ordered sacks to be brought, and their ashes to be collected into them so that none of the Christians would touch them. And while he was pondering this blessed Christopher prayed, saying, “Almighty God, invisible Saviour, visit your servants. Heed, Lord, the wickedness of our enemy, that the tyrant glories in destroying the bones of your servants. You said, Lord, that not one of those bones would be broken. Therefore see now, Lord, that your servants have been crushed, even their bones, on account of your name, Lord, and take mercy, good shepherd.” And when saint Christopher had prayed thus, God the lover of the human race heard his prayers, and there was an earthquake about the furnace, so that the king’s seat fell. Then a crowd of men said to the king, “You have truly tried God and sinned against his servant.” Indeed earthquakes continued until evening, and all who were there fled. Moreover, upon hearing these things the archdeacon of bishop Athanasius, together with his brothers, seized the relics of the saints and took them to upper Italy. Again the most wicked king ordered that Christopher be brought to him, and he said to him, “Reprobus, why have you desired such doctrine ? Why have you displayed such great madness ? So now, compromise while you are away from the tortures, and offer sacrifice to the great gods. But if you do not, by the great gods I will make an evil end of you.” However, Christ’s martyr replied, “Inventor of every wickedness, dis- ciple of the devil, partner in eternal damnation, you have already been told that I neither compromise with, nor sacrifice to, those who are called gods by you. I hold firm to the God who made me.” Decius said, “Let a large rock which thirty youths can barely move be brought forward.” And he ordered them to pierce the rock, and that Christopher’s hair be pulled through there, and that he should be dragged along the whole street. When the crowd of men dragged him the rock crushed the chest of the holy martyr, and many Christians gathered for his holy body. But those who were dragging it were beaten by the praepositi, and were forced to drag it bravely along. Then they said to the holy martyr, “Take pity on yourself and on us, for we are worn out by this dragging.” He said to them, “You eat the king’s bread, and do not prevail upon the servant of God to do wrong ? Free me and you will see the strength of my God.” Seeing that he was almost dead, so crushed was he, they rolled the rock forward, set it upon him and left him for dead. But the Lord stood by, and rolling the rock away from him, brought his crushed limbs to life again. And rising he took the rock in his hands, and went away to the king and said to him, “Do you want me to strike you for this ?” The king ordered that he be held until the following day. When morning came he ordered that he be brought to him. And when he was present the king said to him, “By the gods, I am afraid to say anything further to you, but I will with sorrow pass sentence on you.” Christ’s athlete said to him, “You have spoken well of me, king, because my God has made you grieve for me. For the rest do what you will. I hasten to the table of my Lord Jesus Christ; and my brothers who have gone before me support me. Pass your sentence quickly.” The king asked him, “Have you resolved to die rather than to live with us in glory ?” Saint Christopher replied, “I am an enemy of that glory, and of your demons which you adore.” Annoyed again the king said, “Reprobus does not agree with our great gods, and scorns my commands. On account of this I order that he be beheaded, and his corpse burned.”
27. When the sentence had been received they left the palace. Saint Christopher began to sing psalms, praying thus, “You have saved us from those afflicting us, and you have thrown into confusion those who hated us.” And he turned to the soldiers, and said, “Wait a little for me that I may pray.” And he spoke, “O Lord my God, pay the king back in accordance with the way in which he has treated me.” Upon saying these things he went off to the place which had been prepared. And again he said to the soldiers, “Wait for me a little while that I may pray a second time.” And stretching out his hands to the sky he prayed, “God, heed my humility, and deign to reveal to me the way of perfection, that I might rejoice in your glory, Lord.” And behold, there was a great earthquake, with the result that the crowd present were killed. Behold, the heavens opened, and saint Christopher saw the Lord coming to him, and a great chorus of the just, and four angels in a sky of seven-fold splendour. A throne was placed, the Lord sat down, and many were astonished to see the glory which had appeared. Thus blessed Christopher when he saw this glory humbled himself at the feet of the Lord, and said, “How, in word or thought, will I praise you, Lord, that you have deigned to reveal your glory to me your humble servant ?” The Lord said to him, “You are more blessed than many, and will be called my most beloved servant, and blessed will those souls be who have merited possession of your relics. I shall heed no longer the sins of those who have approached me through your intercession. I swear by my glory to you that they shall attain paradise.” Saint Christopher replied, “If I have found favour in your sight, Lord my God, grant me the confidence to speak to you.” The Lord responded, “Say what you will.” The saint replied, saying, “Lord, grant my corpse this second favour, that all who possess a part of my relics will merit such grace that no evil spirit nor bodily sickness will cower them, and drive from them every evil desire. Lord my God, whether it be a city, larger area, or small locality where lies some of my relics, let not hail-shower, crop-disease or vine-sterility prevail there; but wherever my relics travel, if those regions have been harmed, grant them the grace of my presence as it were, Lord my God, so that all the inhabitants of those regions may richly receive the produce of their cultivation, and filled with your grace wholeheartedly glorify your holy name. Act thus, Lord my God.” And the Lord replied, “It will be as you request. I will not cause you sadness. And so you have come, ascend to your brothers. For they all wonder at you, and my army of angels desires to see you.” And when he had said this, he departed, and went to the place which had been prepared and said to the executioner, “Come, son, do what has been commanded. But I adjure you, by the God who watches over earth’s orb, not to judge me.” And upon saying these things, he crossed himself, and bending his knees he stretched out his neck; and in this manner his head was cut off. He perfected his martyrdom on a Sunday, at the 7th hour.
28. Moreover, Athanasius, the bishop of Italy, a city which is on the border with Persia, heard of these events. He came to Antioch, paid three hundred aurei to the king’s servants, and took away the corpse of the holy martyr to his own city. There was a river which used flow down and flood this city. The bishop constructed a basilica at the source of the river, and deposited there the corpse of the holy martyr; and the river was turned down the other side of the mountain, and the city has been kept safe until the present day. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit whose is the honour and glory, power and authority, forever and ever. Amen.
The Passion (BHL 2122) and Miracles (BHL 2123) of St. Demetrius by Anastasius the Librarian
Anastasius the Librarian (“Bibliothecarius“) was the leading Greek scholar in the West during the 9th-century and served Popes Adrian II (867-72) and John VIII (872-82) as their librarian. Hence his nickname. He attended the final session of the 8th Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 870 and translated its proceedings into Latin in 871. He also translated the proceedings of the 7th Ecumenical Council, which had been held at Nicaea in 787, into Latin in 871. He sent his translation of the Greek acts of St. Demetrius, together with his translation of a collection of miracles of St. Demetrius, to the Frankish king Charles the Bald (823-78) in 876. In general on him, see the entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913 edition). The exact recension of the Greek acts of St. Demetrius which he used for his translation has been lost, but it is clear that he did not merely translate his material. He severely abbreviated it also. The following translation is based on the text in PL 129, cols. 715-26.
Anastasius the humble to the most pious and ever august lord, the emperor Charles, [who holds his] crown and kingdom with Christ.
I have recently translated the passion and miracles of the blessed martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica from Greek into Latin at the encouragement of [my] brothers, especially of that most learned man John the Deacon, who is very well known [to you] because of the orthodoxy of your faith and the splendour of your knowledge. This aforementioned John had a chapel of wondrous antiquity and beauty dedicated to this martyr in his own house even, yet he did not know what sort of martyr this man was. So I, since I am familiar with Thessalonica where his precious body lies buried and redolent and shines forth in splendid miracles, explained to him in sequence. But because I do not want your imperiousness to be robbed of the knowledge of such a great athlete, I have taken care, and the opportunity, to send this very [account] to you also to the end that, with the intercession of the saints and friends of God and the prayer of this man also, your greatness may be able to obtain grace before God and merit the enjoyment of eternal glory. May the King of Kings and Lord of Lords protect your kingliness with his right hand, and convey [you] from the the temporal to the eternal realm.
When the emperor Maximianus was spending time in the city of the Thessalonians, being a superstitious man he persecuted those who heeded just religion and killed them. Among these was blessed Demetrius, he who had both performed good works since his youth and had taught others, who displayed himself and was without fear. For he taught how divine Wisdom had descended to the earth from heaven in order to bring back to life by means of his own blood man who had died because of sin. When he was preaching these and other things, some imperial servants who had been entrusted with the capture of Christians, seized saint Demetrius and presented him to the emperor Maximianus. It happened that the emperor had gone to the city’s stadium on account of those who had been about to join together in single combat. A circular enclosure was being readied there by means of some fencing where he was about to watch [col. 716] those who fought each other face-to-face in turn in the manner of the theatre because it was a delight to him to witness the spilling of human blood. Nevertheless, not without care and concern did he regard that which was perceived as delightful to him. For he burned with support for a certain single-combatsman, Lyaeus by name, who, abusing the strength and size of his body, had already vanquished many and possessed a knowledge of killing gained through theory and practice. Because all were afraid of this man and there seemed to be no-one to withstand him, Maximianus held him in high regard, prized him, and used watch him with great pleasure. He praised and admired him, and gloried in the arrogance of the man as if concerning something important. When he had arrived near the stadium, those who had seized blessed Demetrius, brought him forward to him. Hearing that he was a Christian, the emperor, because he was entirely focussed on the spectacle that was at hand, ordered blessed Demetrius to be held there next to the stadium and to be kept under guard in the public bath. So the emperor took his seat, and when Lyaeus had been brought in, he asked who was willing to enter into single-combat with him, offering and promising gifts. And a certain young man by the name of Nestor leaped forth from the higher seats, and, desiring single-combat, took his stand opposite Lyaeus, so that, stupefied, Maximianus called Nestor, he who had leaped forth for this reason, to himself, and advised him, saying, “I realise that lack of money has caused you to be raised to such a state of fantasy so that you either win and acquire sudden wealth or, cheated by your desire, rid yourself of your poverty along with your life. But because of my pity for the youth with which you are adorned, I will even give to you worthy and fitting gifts on account of your unique daring. So come on, take the gifts too along with your life. Do not hurl yourself against Lyaeus, since he has conquered many more powerful than you. When Nestor heard these things, he neither accepted the emperor’s advice nor feared concerning Lyaeus’ strength. He answered the emperor, “I have not come to this contest for gain, as you have asserted, but in order to prove myself better than Lyaeus. So then [col. 717] both the emperor and those who were about him, supporters of Lyaeus, rose in anger at Nestor’s words, not tolerating his boastfulness. The emperor reassured Lyaeus and restored his confidence. He, for his part, hastened to show himself worthy of the imperial judgement. And when battle had been joined, Lyaeus received a mortal blow, immediately fell dead, and caused the emperor extreme confusion. For this reason, without paying Nestor any of the monies that had been agreed and promised, he then leaped forth from his seat and returned in sadness to the palace. When some mentioned about Demetrius to him, roused to anger, he ordered him immediately to be pierced with lances in the very place where he was being detained. In this way blessed Demetrius completed the martyrdom of a good confession. His body was counted as little by his killers, but some religious men came secretly by night and rescued it from the dirt where it had been thrown, and having gathered as much earth as they were able, they carefully buried it so that it would not receive injury from any fierce and cruel animals. After these events, no-one cared to move the saint’s body, but it remained beneath its marker. Furthermore, to say little, no few miracles and healings were worked in the same place for those who called upon him with faith. When the martyr’s merit had presently been made common knowledge, Leontius, assuredly beloved of God, a man who adorned the seat of the prefecture of Illyricum, cleaned the building which contained the most holy body of the martyr, and freed it from all harm, since it was very humble, concealed on all sides, and restricted by the porticoes of the public bath and the stadium. He enlarged it by means of further lots of land, and erected there an oratory in honour of the holy martyr Demetrius for the praise of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom the Father and the Holy Spirit share glory, honour and power through ages of ages.
A certain Marianus, one of the senators, was ordered by the emperors to rule the tribes who were in Illyricum in the manner of the prefects. He, when he came to Thessalonica, managed the government of the prefecture in a pious fashion, and was pleasing to both God and man. Then the devil, envying his wealth, sought him out to test him, just like Job. And first of all he began to test him by means of the seven vices. But the other, sustained by the grace of God, overcame all his machinations. And when the devil did not succeed in this way, he deprived that man of all his worldly wealth; and he was not able to conquer him in this way either, since there was help from above with him. Finally, therefore, the devil, with the permission of God, struck him down with such a serious illness that he had no power over any of his limbs, except his tongue alone, concerning which he used constantly praise God. And when he had suffered this illness with patience for a long time, the devil came to the city in the guise of a man, carrying a certain document in his hands, and he said to one of his servants, “If your lord will carry this about himself, he will be freed from his illness.” The latter entered before his lord and said to him, “So listen to me, and you will be cured. There is an unknown man in the city with a certain document who says that if you are willing to carry it about yourself, [col. 718] you will be freed from your illness.” But he said, “What is written on it ?” “I do not know”, the servant says, “but he [the stranger] says that it is the names of the gods and the angels.” Marianus said, “God, without whose nod nothing happens, can restore me to health without a written document; let him have what is his; let God’s will be done concerning me.” When he had said these things, he was quickly seized by sleep because of his pain and sorrow. When he had fallen asleep, blessed Demetrius appeared to him, saying, “Rise and order your servants to carry you to the shrine of Demetrius; for there, with the help of God, you will receive a cure.” And when he woke up and asked those standing around for the shrine of the martyr Demetrius, someone said, “There is a very small shrine near the stadium where they say that Demetrius lies, he who was killed by means of lances a long time ago at the order of the emperor Maximianus.” Then he said, “Bring me there, since I have been told in a dream that I can receive a cure there.” Then his servants carried their lord where they had been ordered; and he ordered them to place him only on the floor. And when he was lying [there], he was seized by sudden sleep; and behold, blessed Demetrius appeared to him again, saying, “You can be cured by me, but I am afraid lest after your healing you may perhaps entangle yourself in the cures of this world.” But Marianus [said], “You know, lord, that I have never done this, and that I do not wish to do this [now].” And he
, “Christ, who raises up those cast down, cures you.” And waking up, Marianus began to report his vision. And when he had got to the place where the martyr said, “Christ, who raises up those cast down, cures you,” he stood up cured and, together with all those present there, gave thanks to God who lives and reigns through ages of ages. Amen.
Similarly, there was a certain prefect of the city of Thessalonica who suffered a discharge of blood and, just like the woman who was cured by touching the fringe of the Lord’s clothing, had spent almost all his income on doctors, and had been able to be cured by no-one. So finally, inspired by divine mercy, he said to his servants one day, “Carry me to the shrine of the protector of our city.” But replying with fear, they said to him, “To the shrine of which protector do you order us to lead you ?” He said to them, “[To the shrine] of the chief
.” They said, “Of which chief [protector] ? Tell us his name, lord.” He looked at them and said, “Alas ! Do I recognise him, although I am lying [here] half-dead, while you are ignorant of him, although you are healthy ? Do you not know that this city has many protectors, but one surpasses them all, he who always fights keenly on her behalf, whom not only the city alone has merited to have as its inassailable wall, but the whole region also ? So bring me to his shrine, for he will either take pity on me as I visit, or will certainly raise up my soul when I have died there and, interceding for me at the coming presence of Christ’s fearful seat-of-judgement, will save me from eternal punishment.” When he had said these things, they realized that he was talking about the saint Demetrius who often bestows cures upon the sick; and they quickly raised him up and carried him there. What language, dearest brothers, can honour this martyr with worthy praises, he who has achieved such great power that he can restore to health in one moment he whom many different doctors had been unable to cure ? For as soon as [the prefect] entered the doors of the church, he merited a cure not only of his body, [col. 719] but also of his soul, through the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns through ages of ages. Amen.
We have heard a friend of the truth, an important priest without a doubt, report things about the martyr Demetrius which we will try to explain in the following [passages]. It happened, he said, that the magnificent, solid-silver ciborium which had stood in his holy temple was so burned one night that it totally melted. So the most holy bishop tried to recreate the aforementioned ciborium, but he did not recover a full pound of the silver which had melted away for the completion of such a great task. He planned to himself to melt down the silver throne which was in the same venerable temple, and to effect the task in that way. And when he had decided this to himself, and no-one else knew his plan, the martyr of Christ Demetrius appeared in his dreams to a certain priest, a man of excellent lifestyle, Demetrius by name, saying, “Go, tell the bishop of the city: “Do not presume to destroy the throne of my house.” When the priest had told this to the bishop, his superior was indeed amazed first of all that his inner-thoughts had been made public; he then regarded the steward of the temple of the venerable martyr with some suspicion, thinking that he had arranged this. And the bishop said to him, “You have never heard this from me, brother.” After many days, when he had examined the arguments again and had found no other plan by which the work on the ciborium might be completed, he confirmed himself in his first plan to make the ciborium from the throne. When he had ordered a silversmith to be called in order to instruct him to destroy the throne, someone reported to him, saying, “The priest Demetrius asks to approach to your holiness.” When he had entered, [the priest] said to him, “The martyr Demetrius who appeared to me, a sinner, earlier, has appeared to me again in a vision with a somewhat sad appearance, and has ordered me to report these words to your holiness: “For the sake of charity, do not grieve me by the destruction of my throne.” But [the bishop] was indignant at the priest when he heard this, since he thought that he was making these things up. He dismissed him from him more severely, and made his intention clear, saying, “You have abundant advice to give when there is less than a pound of silver ! Do not philosophize about the problems of others and pass rash judgement.” Then the priest went away confused since the saint had not yet told him what ought to be done, but only, “Do not destroy my throne.” But that very night saint Demetrius appeared to the priest Demetrius, and said to him, “Go, tell the archbishop: “Do not worry about my ciborium, since I will restore it myself.” The priest fulfilled the martyr’s commands, and reported this to his superior. When his superior heard this, he praised God and the holy martyr Demetrius. While they were still talking to each other about these things, behold the doorkeeper came, saying, “Holy superior, the very wealthy Mennas stands at your door wanting to talk to you.” He said to him, “Let him come in.” The aforementioned Mennas entered and gave him 75 pounds of silver for the assistance of the ciborium. And then came John, the darling of the poor without a doubt, who gave him 40 pounds of silver; and the citizens came and made donations according as they were able in order for the ciborium [col. 720] to be restored. In such a manner was this oft-mentioned work rebuilt by the merits of the holy martyr with the help of Our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, through ages of ages. Amen.
But we do not believe that that which we heard from the most holy archbishop ought to be omitted here. For he told us about a certain custodian of the temple of the martyr Demetrius, Honesiphorus by name. “When one day I was going to to church of the aforementioned martyr, I found the aforementioned custodian Honesiphorus lying half-dead before the door of the holy martyr. And when, troubled, I wept at the illness of my friend, Honesiphorus came to, saw me crying, and said, “Why are you sad on my account, Lord Eusebius ? If you love me, do not be troubled, but order my tomb to be readied, and toss me alive into it.” Disturbed by this, I said to him in my sadness, “What is the reason for this, brother ?” He replied, “Because I roused the holy martyr to anger by my guilt. For the holy martyr appeared to me, a sinner, in my sleep, and addressed me in a sweet voice, “Brother Honesiphorus, that which you do does not please me. The salvation of a soul pleases me more than thousands of pounds of gold. Do you not realise that the longer the candle which is offered up for sins blazes, the longer it continues [to move] the saints to intercede for sinners ? So allow the greater and smaller candles to blaze away, for it is altogether fitting for my house gleam with candles.” But wretched me when I awoke, I thought that I had seen a phantom, and said to myself, “The saint does not appear to sinners.” Twice, indeed, and three times did I receive the same warnings in my dreams, and I wished to heed these things, and desired to obverse [them] right up to the end [tonight]. On this very night, indeed, a certain devout man came to the church bringing [some] big candles. After he had prayed, he left the church. I decided to put his candles out, forgetting about the martyr’s decree. And when I began to move in order to exstinguish the candles, saint Demetrius spoke to me, shouting out from his silver chamber in a loud and terrible voice, “O greedy man !”, and again, “O greedy man !” In great misery, indeed, and extremely terrified, do I lie almost dead [here] where you found me, having been cast down upon the ground and thrown out the doors of the monastery.” Our father the archbishop often told us these things. And so we ought to obey the commands given to us by the saints with divine authority. May their kindness always protect us and make us persevere in the instructions of Christ, Amen.
It befell the inhabitants of the city of Thessalonica, evidently on account of their sins, that a barbarian tribe plundered their land, burned their houses, laid waste their vines, and drove their sons and daughters, horses and asses, sheep and cows, off into captivity; they destroyed the corn and vine and oil in order to lay siege to the city. A great famine followed persecution throughout the whole of that region. Therefore, the leading men of the city sent ambassasdors to the emperor in order that he might free the city from siege by the barbarians and from the impending famine. Meanwhile, the most glorious martyr Demetrius appeared, just as he is depicted in paintings, on part of the island of Chios to a certain shipmaster by the name of Stephen who was bringing a load of 200 [col. 721] modii of corn to the royal city, and said to him, “Hear me, and sail swiftly to Thessalonica.” He, although he had been almost driven out of his mind as it were by the vision of the martyr and was scarcely able to speak, said, “Lord, we have heard that it is about to be captured by the barbarians.” The saint replied, “Sail there, then, and tell the ships you meet that Thessalonica has been saved by the mercy of God.” When he had said these things, the saint began to precede Stephanus, walking upon the sea. And Stephanus sailed to Thessalonica and reported his vision of the martyr to whomsoever he met. And he outstripped the ambassadors whom the citizens had sent to the emperor, together with many merchants, and turned the city’s grief into joy by telling how the martyr had appeared to him. For terrified by divinely inspired fear, the enemy had left off their siege shortly beforehand.
You all know the famine which occurred a short while ago not only in this city of Thessalonica, but almost everywhere else also, to such an extent that scarcity of not only corn but of other things even seized the queen of cities herself also. Therefore, since the city was being crushed by the affliction of such a great famine, that holy marryr Demetrius, at the instruction of God, sent to them ships from many and different regions filled with various produce, fresh and dry, and with every goodness of human food, so that their desperation for these necessities was immediately brought to an end, just as you have already heard. There was a certain man who had been posted by his lord on the island of Chios in order to buy the corn which the ships were bringing there. Now when he did not find any ships at all, and was seized with great sorrow, he heard a voice saying to him, “Why are you troubled ? Know that Demetrius paid [them] all [their] deposits earlier in order to send them to Thessalonica.” Rising, he went to the Church of Ss. Victor and Isidore wanting to learn from the countryfolk who this Demetrius was. And when he asked this question, and could get no answer, he assumed that some man by the name of Demetrius was going to be sent by the prefect of the city of Thessalonica. He immediately sent a letter to his lord reporting that the corn was being bought by Demetrius. [His] lord reported these same things to the emperor who, when he had investigated the matter, discovered that no-one was going to be sent by the prefect of Thessalonica, and that the [prefect] did not even have a man by the name of Demetrius. Both the emperor and people realised that none other than the martyr Demetrius had appeared to the aforementioned man. And all who heard glorified God who had freed the city of Thessalonica from the dangers of famine through the merits of his martyr.
A certain prefect, whose name I need not mention since he remains in eternal disgrace, was in charge of the cities in Illyricum. Swollen with pride, he summoned those who were in charge of the city of Thessalonica and demanded that they perform a certain public-work. They fell on their knees before him and declared that they were unable to obey his commands. But he replied that they were lying. They then said to him, “If you do not believe us, we will swear before the tomb of Saint Demetrius that we cannot fulfil this [command]. But he burst forth in blasphemy against the martyr, [col. 722] ridiculing his fellow citizens on account of the glorious martyr. They did not tolerate the blasphemy, but closed their ears and left. After two days the prefect’s body was seized right from sole to head by such a serious illness that the doctors even could not identify his condition; he remained in this condition for eight months. In the eighth month, indeed, the wretched man reached such a state of misery that he lost the power of his lower body with the result that he could see all his limbs, but could not move them. Wondrous is God’s power which works such things through his servants !
Eusebius, the archbishop of the city of Thessalonica, had a vision which I wish to relate to you. Before the barbarian hordes began to attack the city of Thessalonica, the aforementioned priest saw himself, in a dream, sitting in the city theatre along with a great crowd of servants. And when he was wondering why he was seated in such a lewd place, and was rising in his desire to leave, he saw a tragic actor standing on that part of the stage where the stories are recited, and who said to him, “Wait, since I must lament you and your daughter.” He said to him, “Do not bother, since I do not have a daughter, nor do I deserve lamentation.” But the other said, “You do indeed have a daughter, and a mother of many children; and you must lament her.” Then the chief realised that he was referring to the city as his daughter, and said, “I adjure you, by God, to lament neither me nor her.” And when he expressed his wish for a third time to engage upon a lamentation, and was not allowed [to do so] by the bishop, [the bishop] woke from his sleep and realised that the tragedy did not have a good meaning. Indeed, after a few days had intervened, an innumerable horde of barbarians surrounded Thessalonica and the bishop realised that the vision which he had seen was true. When the barbarian tribe was devastating the district of Thessalonica, as we have seen above, the inhabitants of the neighbouring disticts were stricken with famine on account of their attacks. Finally, indeed, when almost as many inhabitants had died as much as a result of famine as a result of fighting, the barbarians devised a plan and suddenly attacked the city thinking that it was devoid of defenders, because the situation was so, and had been desolated by famine. For we were few, and they did indeed exceed the number of locusts. Then, when they had constructed siege-ramparts, iron battering-rams, catapults, and great tortoise-like protective covers, they covered eveything with the hides of oxen and camels in case they should be destroyed by fire hurled down by the citizens. Moreover, they pressed so heavily upon the citizens that no-one expected to survive alive. They besieged the city for a long time, until they exhausted all their supplies, both for beast and man. Having decided to attack the city altogether on the morning of the following day, they surrounded it on every side with their machines of war. And now when the city was about to be captured, they saw a crowd of armed men, like a swarm of wasps, exiting it, whom a certain red-haired youth, most beautiful to behold, led, bearing the sign of the cross in his hands. A white horse bore him. These charged forward and attacked them. Terror-stricken, the [barbarians] left the city and sought the protection of flight. However, a few, who were not able to flee, remained there half-dead. When these had been seized by the citizens, they were asked by them [col. 723] why so great a multitude was fleeing without any reason. The barbarians then
, “The crowd of men whom you hid, together with their most brave commander, put our companies to flight.” But [the citizens] realised that the commander was the martyr Demetrius who had put the enemy to flight together with an army of angels. Then when they had collected the spoils of the enemy, they flocked together to the church of blessed Demetrius and gave great thanks to God Who had freed the city from their enemies as a result of his intercession. When several men were talking about the flight of the barbarians, one of our brothers rose and said to them, “When one night this week, after the morning prayers, I was standing in the temple of saint Demetrius the martyr and praying before his holy shrine, a great tiredness came over me so that I was neither entirely asleep nor was I wholly awake. And behold, two men appeared, terrible to behold, and said to the guardian of the temple, “Where is the lord of this temple ?” He replied, “He remains in that ciborium.” They [said], “Go, tell him that we have been sent to him.” He went, and they followed him. And he called him, saying, “Saint Demetrius, two soldiers are present who have been sent to you by their lord.” And the most holy martyr of Christ immediately appeared from within, and stood next to the doors, and was also apparent to unworthy me. I fell on my face since I could not bear to look upon his angelic countenance. For his appearance was not like his appearance as depicted in the ancient paintings, but his face emitted rays of light just like the sun. Although I was lying facedown, nevertheles I listened intently to what they were saying to one another. And I heard that the men greeted the saint respectfully. He said to them, “The grace of God be with you. Why have you been sent to me ?” The men said, “Our lord sent us to your holiness to tell you this: “Hurry out and come to me, since your city is being surrendered to its enemies.” When I had heard this, stricken by sorrow at his words, I rose upon my hands, and looking up a little, saw the the face of the most pious martyr greatly saddened. And when a moment had passed, I saw tears running down his cheeks from his eyes. Then the guardian of the temple said to the two youths whom he had led in, “Why have you afflicted my lord? If I had known your intention beforehand, I would not have brought you to him.” Then God’s saint said to his attendant, “These are my servants, and they have told me what they had been ordered [to tell me].” The holy martyr then said in a loud voice, “O Lord Jesus Christ, you said: “I do not desire the death of a sinner, but that he should be converted and live”, and again, “The angels of God rejoice at the repentance of one sinner.” And although you are the Lord of all the angels, you gave up your life for the redemption of sinful men. You, Lord, entrusted that city and its citizens to me, that I might live there forever with them and guard them. So how can I abandon them in such great need ? or with what face will I observe the destruction of my fatherland ? What life will I have when my citizens have been destroyed ? Just as I was with them in spirit when they were prospering, so I will not desert them when they are in danger. Whatever they deserve to suffer, I better deserve to suffer with them. But You, Almighty and [col. 724] Merciful God, You who heard Jonah in the whale’s stomach, and the three boys in the blazing fire of a furnace, and Susanna in the midst of a false charge, hear Your people and free them from destruction by barbarians.” And thereupon a voice was heard sent by the Lord, “Let it be done to them according to your will.” And with great joy, he immediately paid his respects to the two youths who had been sent to him, and thanked God that He had heard him. Know without doubt that you have received life and victory through this saint, with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns through ages of ages. Amen.
Among the other miracles I wish to insert this one also, a miracle which the holy martyr Demetrius worked in our time. There was a certain bishop from the country of the Africans, Cyprian by name, who cared for the true priesthood and led a life most deserving of God. He arranged to journey to the queen of cities, Byzantium, on a pressing matter of necessity. And when they had sailed for many days and had already drawn near to the regions of Greece, he was captured by the most fierce Slavs together with all his [companions]. When they had divided these captives among themselves, the [Slavs] enslaved the aforementioned bishop together with his [companions]. When these things had been done in this way, they returned to their native places, and each barbarian placed the burden of slavery upon his captive according as he wished. Bishop Cyprian managed his lord’s stores and distributed his foodstuffs wisely and with foresight, and in praiseworthy fashion took comfort in prayers, vigils, and fasts. And he said to the Lord, “Although I am without any merit, you appointed me a shepherd of your flock; how have I now been brought to such a state that I have been demoted from such rank to the service of the barbarians ? But I call to mind that this has happened to me on account of my sins, and that it is for this reason that I am held ensnared by this affliction. Who will guide my sheep now that their shepherd has been captured by barbarian animals ?” While he was weeping about these and similar things, a beautiful young man, decorous in form, with a military bearing and appearance, said to him, “If you want to be freed from the slavery in which you are held and to be rescued from the barbarians, rise and follow me. Watch yourself, while we are walking, lest you say anything at all to me; but let us march each striving for quiet and praying to God in our minds.” Then the bishop replied to him, “Who are you and from where have you come here ?” The other said to him, “I am called Demetrius, and I am a soldier of the great emperor. My house stands in the middle of the city of Thessalonica, to which I will lead you without harm if you follow me.” Rising, therefore, he followed him, and they both proceeded in silence. They marched during the night and rested during the day. Furthermore, Demerius used leave the bishop in the morning and return to him again as the evening drew near, bringing with him fruit from various trees, together with the berries of shrubs, with which he fed his companion, and when they had taken their food, they used begin their journey. After eight days, when they had drawn near the walls of the city already mentioned, Demetrius set Cyprian in front of the gates of the city and [col. 725] disappeared. When the bishop looked for his faithful guide and good companion and did not find him, he entered the city. He made enquiries of those he met and asked them where was the house of Demetrius the soldier. And when they replied that there were many Demetrii in the city who discharged military office, he remarked, saying, “The house of the one I am looking for is in the middle of the city.” Therefore, since they were are all at a loss in this matter, the man being sought was found nowhere. However, the inhabitants of the city led the bishop to the church of the martyr. When he entered, he immediately surrendered himself to prayer, and gave thanks and praise to God the Saviour; and as he raised his hands and eyes in prayer, he saw an image of the martyr Demetrius in the clothing of his companion and guide. Then, in the presence of all, he cried out, declaring that, without a doubt, it was Demetrius himself who had guided and saved him, and that this was the house which the martyr himself had mentioned to him as he appeared to him in the beginning. Then the presence of [this] man was reported to the bishop of the city, and the things which had happened to him were noted down. He immediately welcomed his fellow minister, took him into his house, and treated him kindly. But [Cyprian] could not bear to be separated from the church of the holy martyr even for a moment, and spent the whole time for which he remained in the city in this same church. When he had spent the winter there waiting for the time for sailing, and the time arrived there, he boarded a ship taking with him an image of the martyr Demetrius, and successfully sailed to the city of Constantinople. When he had suitably disposed of his business, with the help of the most victorious martyr Demetrius he returned from there to his country and flock, promising the martyr great honour on account of what had happened. Moreover, he wanted to build a ciborium and ambo similar to that which he had seen [at Thessalonica], with marble columns, in honour of the martyr saint Demetrius. He was very worried next because he totally ignorant of the equipment needed for these things and how to do this. Finally, one night when the bishop was exhausted by the great toing-and-froing of his thoughts, tiredness came over him, and he immediately fell asleeep. And behold, there stood before him the holy martyr Demetrius, saying to him, “Why are you sad, brother ? Did you not hear the Lord Jesus saying to his disciples, “Amen I say to you, if anyone tells this mountain, “Rise and throw yourself into the sea”, and does not hesitate at heart, but believes that whatever he says will happen, it will happen for him” ? [col. 726] Where is your faith ? O man, do not be troubled over the columns or the ambo, since a ship will put in from the sea today carrying all the things which you seem to need for the preparation of the temple. For there is a bishop in the region of Gaul, in the city of Marseilles, who cares for the people entrusted to him and is building a temple in honour of the holy martyr Victor, my comrade or brother, and desires to build an ambo and ciborium in it just as in your church. For this reason, he sent a ship with his servants to Mt. Porphyry in order to buy enough porphyry columns and slabs to complete the work in honour of the holy martyr Victor. But the holy martyr has now intervened and the aforementioned bishop has now found wonderfully coloured porphyry columns and slabs which have lain on the ground for a long time just outside his city. The martyr of Christ is sending us the ship with the porphyry columns and slabs bought by his representatives in order for you to make from them the work which you desire to make for me.” Rising at last from his bed, the [bishop] reported his vision to his clerics, and sent them to the sea-harbour on this account. These, when they had found the ship and talked to its captain, asked what price they would take for the marble columns and sheets in order to fulfil the bishop’s wish. But the ship’s captain and those with him were unwilling [to sell] and completely denied that they had any of the things being sought. The clerics who had been sent by their bishop reported these things and left him sad. Frustrated in his plans, he proceeded to grieve. And the holy martyr Demetrius appeared to him in a vision, saying, “Go yourself to the aforementioned ship’s captain and tell him, “Do not lie; for you have in your ship an ambo which is tightly packed in and other marble pieces which have been hidden away. Do not hesitate to give me these because of the bishop who sent you to get them. For my brother in the city of Marseilles has discovered how to finish the work on his own oratory.” And when the bishop had gone off and said these things to the captain, and told him his marvellous visions, he persuaded him to accept from him the price offered for the marbles. And so it happened. Hence the bishop dedicated the temple which he built in honour of the holy martyr Demetrius, with an ambo and a ciborium, in praise of Christ and for the glory of the oft-mentioned martyr. If any sick person goes to this temple in prayer, and if he is annointed with oil from his lamp, he will be cured there as a result of his [the martyr’s] prayers and through our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns through ages of ages. Amen.
Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Martyrs 92
| Calahorra, a city in Spain, embraces the martyrs Emeterius and Chelidonius. In order to witness miracles from the power of the saints the city often receives cures for various illnesses. These martyrs were captured by the persecutor and bound over for punishment. After they suffered various tortures on account of their confession of the divine name, they welcomed the sentence of the final penalty and were led out to be beheaded. When the executioner cut off their heads, a great miracle appeared to the people. For the ring of one martyr and the handkerchief of the other were taken up into a cloud and brought to heaven. Everyone who was present saw this, and so far as the sight of eyes could follow, the people watched the gleam of the gold ring and the brighness of the linen with an astonished gaze. Aurelius Clemens [Prudentius] offers a witness for this event in these verses from his book entitled The Crown. He wrote: |
“This honor is not
hidden and does not grow old with time, how the gifts that they
sent up flew through the air and demonstrate by their gleam that
the road to heaven lies open. The ring that represented the faith
of one was carried up in a cloud; the other, as they say, gave a
handkerchief as the pledge of his lips. These gifts were seized by
a celestial breeze and entered the depths of light. The gleam of
gold disappeared in the vault of the clear heavens; the white
fabric escaped the eye that for long followed it. The gifts were
carried all the way to the stars and were seen no more.”
Source of Translation: R. Van Dam, Gregory of Tours: Glory of the Martyrs (Liverpool, 1988), 116-17.
Commentary: Writing in the 590s, bishop Gregory of Tours (573-94) reports the power of the relics of Ss. Emeterius and Chelidonius at Calahorra in Spain.
The Passion of Ss. Fidelis, Exantus, and Carpophorus (BHL 2922)
1. When the sacrilegious emperor Maximiamus was residing at Milan, he ordered an army of his soldiers to return from battle with the Gauls into the province [of Italy]. Then saint Fidelis, together with his fellow soldiers Exantus and Carpophorus, who, although engaged in earthly military service from the earliest age, were distinguishing themselves in the service of the heavenly palace, came together in agreement and travelled to the territory of Comus. And when they had arrived at a place called Sylvula which was not far from the city of Comus, about one mile more or less, Carpophorus and Exantus halted there and hid themselves in Sylvula itself. But saint Fidelis continued all the way to Lake Como. And finding a boat there, he boarded it, and crossed the lake.
2. When Maximianus heard this, that Carpophorus, Fidelis and Exantus were Christians, and that they had slipped away in flight, he ordered his most trustworthy soldiers to follow after them. He instructed them to kill them by various means when had been able to find them. Then those in pursuit, hastening with all speed, reached Sylvula where Carpophorus and Exantus were in hiding, because Christ the Lord had decided to consecrate them as martyrs there. And when they had been found there, the persecutors beheaded and killed them.
3. The pursuit party then reached the territory of Comus, and finding a boat, they pressed on after saint Fidelis. And when they reached the village of Summolacunaus, they found saint Fidelis, and addressed him, saying, “Either sacrifice to the gods and return to the emperor with us, or be done done to death by various means.” Saint Fidelis replied to them, “This is the place where Christ has ordered me to rest. I do not fear at all those punishments which you intend to inflict upon me since I have served Christ the Lord devotedly since my childhood. For even when engaged in earthly military service, I did not serve an earthly empire, but remained oboedient to my heavenly king. And I did this in order to recall the pagans serving idols from their error to the way of truth.”
4. His pursuers then roared, beat him with their clubs and said, “Unless you sacrifice to the gods today and renounce the superstition which you practice, you will be done to death by various means.” But saint Fidelis addressed them, saying, “If you believe in my Lord Jesus Christ not only will you not suffer those penalties with which you threaten me, but you will even attain eternal glory with me.”
5. Then, shaking, one of the persecutors said to his other colleagues, “What are we to do ? If we let our fellow soldier go, we will suffer common condemnnation by the emperor; and if we kill him, we are guilty of our brother’s blood.” And after this, the man who had spoken took himself off secretly and made a grave in which to hide the body of saint Fidelis. And, returning to saint Fidelis again, he felt sorry for him, and said to him, “Brother Fidelis, take thought for your life and sacrifice to the gods so that we do not turn out to be guilty of your blood.” But saint Fidelis replied, “If you wanted to agree with me, and your choice were true, you would believe in my Lord Jesus Christ and choose to die for the name of Christ, since this is the choice which leads to eternal life. But do not coax me to desert him whom I have always devotedly served.”
6. And when he had said this, the persecutors inflicted severe punishments upon him. But saint Fidelis steadfastly declared, “The punishments which you inflict do not pain, but refresh me.” The murderers then bound saint Fidelis and led him to a place called Turriculus where a pine-tree had grown near a village of sailors, and there they chopped off his head. And when he had been beheaded, there occurred a hurricane and a great flash of light so that the persecutors themselves might recognise it now also, that the God Christ had indeed taken up the soul of his martyr.
7. After these events, in order that the power of God might be more fully revealed, one of the persecutors was seized by an unclean spirit and began to shout, “Saint Fidelis, free me and when I have been freed I will bury your corpse with great reverence.” And while he was shouting this at the corpse of the most blessed martyr, he touched it, and he was freed from the demon as soon as he did so.
8. And when the persecutors had seen this, they fled to a boat in fear and trembling. And boarding the boat, they returned with all haste to their leader Maximianus. And when they reported what they had seen, the sacrilegious emperor Maximianus ordered them never to tell anyone the wonders which God had revealed through his most faithful martyr.
9. Saint Fidelis was beheaded under the emperor Maximianus on the 5th day before the kalends of November (28 October) during the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ whose is the honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Passion of St. Florian (BHL 3054)
1. In those days, when Diocletian and Maxim(in)ianus were emperor, there was a persecution of Christians, when Christians, competing in their different struggles, welcomed the tortures inflicted upon them by the tyrants with wholehearted devotion to God and came to share in the promises of Christ. Then it was that some hid themselves on the mountains, some in caves. Then it was that holiness and faith crowned the holy athletes on account of their suffering; this victory led them to eternal life. Then it was that the most impious judges, at the commands of the emperors, competed in madness; the athletes of Christ struggled against them and overcame their madness. Accordingly, venerable faith triumphed.
2. Accordingly, in those days, when the command of the sacrilegious leaders had reached Noricum Ripensis under the command of the praeses Aquilinus, the praeses, when he had reached the fort of Lauriacum, then began to seek out Christians vigorously. And no less than 40 saints were seized, and when they had competed for a very long time and had suffered many tortures, they were thrown into prison. Blessed Florianus followed after their confession rejoicing. Although he lived at Cetius, when he heard about the things happening at Lauriacum, he said to his [fellow soldiers/family ?], “I must walk to the praeses at Lauriacum and suffer various punishments there for the name of Christ.” And saying goodbye to his [fellow soldiers/family ?], he took to the road.
3. So when he had arrived not far from Lauriacum and had entered upon the bridge by which he was accustomed to cross the river, he met [some soldiers] with whom he had served previously. And when he asked them where they were going, they said to him, “Have you not heard the emperor’s commands which reached the praeses, in accordance with which he orders all men to offer libations to the gods, and that those who refuse should be put to death by various means ?” Hearing these things, blessed Florianus said, “Brothers and fellow soldiers, what else do you need seeing that I am a Christian ? Go and tell the praeses that I am a Christian and am here.”
4. So they arrested him, led him to the praeses, and said, “What else do we need seeing that the head of our office, Florianus, declares that he is a Christian ?” The praeses said to him, “Florianus, why are these things being said about you ? Come and offer sacrifice to the gods, just as I or your fellow soldiers do, so that you may live with us and not be punished with the blasphemers in accordance with the emperors’ command.” Blessed Florianus replied, “This I will not do. And now you do what you have been told to do.”
5. The the praeses, seized by a furious anger, ordered him to offer sacrifice against his will. But blessed Florianus raised his voice and said, “Lord my God, in you I have placed my hope and I cannot deny you, but you I serve and to you I offer the sacrifice of praise. May your right hand protect me, since your name is blessed in Heaven and earth. Lord, give me the strength to endure, raise me to your holy athletes, those who have been converted before me and have confessed your holy name. Clothe me, Lord, with the shining robe of your courage and strengthen your Holy Spirit in me. And do not allow me to be trampled by the devil, but guide me in justice and strengthen me in your courage, that I may praise and offer hymns to you, since you are blessed forever. Amen.”
6. But when the praefectus Aquilinus heard this, he mocked him saying, “Why do you speak foolishly and mock the kings’ orders ?” Blessed Florianus replied, “Even when I was serving in a human army, nevertheless I used secretly to worship my God, for which reason the devil cannot seize possession of me entirely. You do indeed possess power over my body, but you cannot touch my soul. For God alone prevails there. I have obeyed your commands in so far as it befits a soldier [to do so], but no-one persuades me of this, to offer sacrifice to demons. For I do not worship their phantoms.”
7. So the praefectus was enraged and ordered him to be beaten with clubs. Blessed Florianus said, “Be as angry and do as much harm as you can, since you possess power over my body which has been given to you for now. If you want to know why I do not fear your tortures, light a fire, and I will climb upon it.” So the soldiers beat him. Moreover, while they were beating him, the praeses said to him, “Sacrifice to the gods, Florianus, and free yourself from tortures.” Blessed Florianus replied, “I sacrifice to my Lord God Jesus Christ who has deigned to lead me to this hour and this joyful situation in which I am now.” So when the holy man said this, the praeses ordered him to be beaten again. But when blessed Florianus began to be beaten, he raised a cheerful countenance as if in a state of joy or great happiness. Then the praeses ordered his shoulder-blades to be shattered by means of sharp iron spikes. When this had been done, blessed Florianus kept praising God further, and declaring that he would always be a Christian.
8. Then the most wicked praeses, when he saw that he had been beaten in everything, passed sentence against him and ordered him to be brought to the river Anesus and to be thrown headlong from the bridge there. Blessed Florianus, when this sentence had been passed against him, rejoicing and exulting in the eternal life which the Lord has promised to those who love him, set out as cheerful as if he were being led to the baths. When he reached the place from which they had to hurl him, they bound a stone to his neck. Blessed Florianus asked the soldiers who were holding him to allow him to pray to God. So standing facing towards the East and raising his hands to heaven, blessed Florianus said, “Receive my soul, Lord Jesus Christ.” And he prayed for the space of an hour, so that those that had brought him became fearful and were afraid to touch him. Then a certain youth arrived, full of anger, and said to the soldiers, “Why are you standing about and not carrying out the command of the praeses ?” And saying this, he hurled him from the bridge into the river, and his eyes immediately fell out. The river received the martyr of Christ, and was terrified. It raised its waves and deposited his body on a certain rocky prominence. Then, as a sign of divine favour, an eagle came and protected him with its wings spread in the shape of a cross.
9. Blessed Florianus then revealed himself to a certain woman by the name of Valeria whose heart was devoted to God in order for her to bury him in a more secret location. With precise signs, he revealed to her the place where she was to hide or bury him rather. The woman, when she had understood this vision, yoked her beasts and hurried towards the river. Because of her great fear of the pagans, she wrapped him in branches or cuttings and pretended that she was bringing this to fence a little garden. While she was bringing him to the place which he had shown her, it happened that her beasts grew tired because of the excessive heat of the sun, and halted, so that they could not walk nor advance any further. Troubled at heart, the woman then prayed to God to assist her with his divine mercy, and there immediately burst forth in that very place a most copious spring which has survived right up until today as a witness to her. And in this way she reached the place which [Florianus] himself had revealed to her, and there the woman buried him in secret and with great haste on account of the most bitter persecution which was threatening. Great cures occur in that place. The sick are healed, the feverish are cured, and all who have kept observance in accordance with the faith will attain mercy [there].
10. These things happened in the time of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, when the most wicked Aquilinus was praeses, during the reign, in truth, of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose is the honour and the glory and power immeasurable, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and ever. Amen.
The Passion of St. George (BHO 310)
(Translation from E.A.W. Budge (1888), 203-35)
The Martyrdom of Saint George, the valiant martyr of our Lord Jesus Christ, who completed his strife on the 23rd of the month Pharmuthi, in the peace of God, Amen.
Now in times of old there arose a severe and terrible storm, and a great and mighty storm and persecution came upon the church. In all places the governors had gone astray, and they dragged the preachers of the truth to the altars of the idols, and compelled them all to offer sacrifices to the devilish idols. Thus also did the governor Dadianus, who had acquired dominion and had obtained the rule over the four quarters of the earth. When Dadianus had become chief, he sat upon the tribune, and wrote edicts to be proclaimed throughout the whole world; and these are the things that were written in them. “Inasmuch [p. 204] as a rumour has come to my ears that He to whom Mary gave birth is the God who is alone to be worshipped, and that Apollo and Poseidon and Hermes and Astarte and Zeus and Ezabel (sic) and Uranus and Scamandros and the other gods are not to be worshipped at all, but that Jesus Christ whom the Jews slew is to be worshipped, – I, therefore, write to every place, and to the governors of every land, and to all rulers under the authority of my government to come to me speedily that they may know the decision of my power.” Then seventy governors from all parts of the world were gathered together there with so great and mighty a multitude, that the land could not contain them for their number. And Dadianus the governor sat upon the tribune and made them bring forth all the instruments of the torture chamber and lay them before him; and these were they. The brazen bed, the bone smashing choppers, the iron rods (?), the wheels with knives fixed to them, the wooden horses, the wooden [p. 205] gloves, the iron gloves, the tongue slitting knives, the tools for drawing out the teeth, the iron bone borers, the sharp saws, and other implements of cruel torture. And Dadianus swore an oath, saying, “If I find any people of doubtful mind and refusing to worship the gods, I will reverse the commands of my fathers and will torture them with bitter sufferings, I will break in the towers of their hearts, I will smash their heads, I will cut out their brains with sharp knives, I will saw off their shin bones, I will tear open their bodies, and I will cut off their limbs from their bodies.” When the multitude heard these things they feared the tortures greatly, and those who wished to become martyrs [refrained] when they considered the numbers of tortures which they ran the risk of suffering; and three whole years went by without anyone daring to say, “I am a Christian.”
Now there was a young man whose name was George, the sun of truth and the glorious star betwixt heaven and earth; he was a tribune in the imperial army, and came from Cappadocia. And when he had served his time as tribune and acquired much wealth, he came to the governor Dadianus and wished to be made a count by him. When Saint George had come to the city and saw the frenzied idolatry of the governors and that they had forsaken God, he straightway decided to give up his rank of tribune, saying, “I will become a soldier of my Lord Jesus Christ the King of heaven.” And when he had distributed all his wealth and given what he had to the poor, he rushed into the presence of the governors and cried out, saying, “Cease your frenzy, O governors, and proclaim not to be gods the things which are not gods; let the gods who have not made heaven and earth perish ! As for me, I will worship one God, the [p. 206] Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.” The dragon looked at him, and said, “Every person who has gone forth from the benevolent guidance of the gods perishes, and as for us, we worship things which are beneath the heavens, for the gods Fire and Sun appear to us as mighty beings; know now that thou hast not only despised us, but thou hast also despised the righteous gods. Offer sacrifice then to the gods and to Apollo who is the saviour of the whole world, and be convinced that the gods who thou humblest know those who honour and obey them, and know how to punish those who disobey them. And now, tell me from whence thou comest ? what is thy name ? and for what purpose hast thou come hither ?” Saint George answered, and said, “The chief name which I bear is Christian, I am by birth a Cappadocian, I was a soldier in a famous company, and I performed my duties of tribune satisfactorily in Palestine where it served. Who are the gods whom thou wouldst force me to worship, O king ?” The governor said to him, “I desire thee to worship Apollo who hung out the heavens, and Poseidon who made fast the earth.” Saint George answered and said, “Neither for thy sake, O evil dragon, nor for that of the governors thy companions will I speak about the righteous ones and thy dead god, but for the sake of these multitudes here present. Whom wouldst thou compel me to worship, O king ? Peter the chosen one of the Apostles, or Apollo who corrupts the whole world ? To which of these would thou have me offer sacrifice ? to Elijah the Tishbite who was an angel upon earth and who walked upon earth and was taken up to the gates of heaven, or to Scamandros the sorcerer who worked enchantments by fire and who led many people astray, who com-[p. 207] mitted adultery with Timetia (Demeter ?), who begat Saar and Sarphat the ophani of the warrior of the city of Pontus, whose deeds were eviland who were cast into the abyss of the sea ? Tell me, O king, to which of these wouldst thou give judgement ? to Samuel who prayed to God, or to Poseidon the destroyer of the ships of the sea ? to Antaeus and Herakles, or to those of the Martyrs and Prophets who wear crowns ? Tell me, O king, to which of these wouldst thou give judgement ? to Jezebel the slayer of the prophets or to Mary the Virgin the mother of my Lord Jesus Christ ? Be ashamed, O king, for the things which thou worshippest are not gods, but deaf idols.”
When Saint George had said these things, the governor was greatly enraged and commanded them to hang him upon the wooden horse, and to torture him until his bowels flowed out upon the ground. After these things four quaternions of soldiers [p. 208] laid him out and beat him with leather whips until the flesh of his body was torn in shreds; and they sprinkled salt upon him. And they brought hair sacks with which to excoriate his body until his blood ran like water; but he was patient under these sufferings.
And it came to pass that during that night the Lord appeared to Saint George, and said to him, “Be strong and of good cheer, beloved George, for I will strengthen thee to bear all these sufferings which they have brought upon thee. And I swear by Myself, and by the holy angels, that among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist, and that after thee there shall arise none like unto thee; for behold, I have made thee lord over these seventy governors, and whatsoever thou sayest shall happen unto them. Thou shalt die three times, and I will raise thee up again, but after the fourth time, I Myself will come upon a cloud, and will take thee away to [p. 209] the place of safe keeping which I have prepared for thee for thy holy dwelling; be strong and fear not, for I am with thee.” And when He had embraced him He went up to heaven with His holy angels in great glory.
When it was morning the governor commanded, and they brought him before the tribune. Now Saint George was singing a Psalm, saying, “O God, hasten thou to my help, hasten thou to my defence.” When he had come to the tribune, he cried out, saying, “O tribune, I and my Lord Jesus Christ have come to thee and thy stone Apollo.” And they laid hold of him and tied him with four leather straps, and beat him with leather whips upon his back and belly; and they cast him back again into prison. And Dadianus the governor wrote a letter in which he thus said, “I write to the whole world, greeting. Let any enchanter or magician who can put an end to the magic of this Christian come hither to me, and I will give him much wealth and any territory that he shall ask for, and he shall be second in the kingdom.” When this letter had been sent throughout the whole world, behold a man appeared whose name was Athanasius, and he came to the governor and said, “O king, live for ever ! There is nothing which I am not able to perform in thy presence.” The governor rejoiced, and said, “What sign wilt thou work before me that I may know that thou art able to put an end to the magic of the Christians ?” Athanasius answered and said, “Let them bring me an ox.” And when they had brought him he spake some words in his ears, and he was rent in twain. Athanasius said to Dadianus, “Let them bring me a pair of scales,” and they brought them to him; and he threw the one half of the ox into one pan of the scales and the other half into the other, and they were exactly equal, and there was not the least difference between the weight of the two halves. And the governor commanded and they brought Saint George to the tribune, and he said to him, “O George, it is for thy sake that I have summoned this man into my domi-[p. 210] nions; thou must vanquish his magic or he will vanquish thine, thou must slay him or he will slay thee.” Saint George looked at the magician and said, “Hasten, my brother, and do unto me speedily whatsoever thou wishest to do, for I see grace drawing nigh unto thee.” And straightway Athanasius took a cup, and washed his face in it, and invoked the names of demons over the cup, and gave it to him to drink; and when he had drunk no evil happened to him at all. Athanasius answered and said to George, “My Lord, let me only give thee one other sign, and if no evil befall thee then I will believe upon Him Whom they crucified.” Then he took another cup, and washed his face in it, and invoked the names of demons more evil than the first over it, and he gave him the cup to drink; and when the saint had drunk no evil happened to him. When Athanasius saw that no evil had happened to him, he said to him, “O Saint George, thou hast the cross of Jesus Christ the Son of God, who came into the world to save sinners; have mercy upon my soul, and give me the seal of Christ.” When Dadianus saw what had happened he was greatly enraged, and commanded them to take the magician outside the city and to slay him with the sword; so he consummated his martyrdom, and was esteemed worthy of everlasting life. And the governor commanded them to throw Saint George into prison until he had decided what he should do with him.
[p. 211] When it was morning the governor commanded a huge wheel to be made with sharp nails and stakes fastened in it; and the wheel was made after the manner in which he commanded it to be made: the upper part of it was like the edge of a knife, and the lower part like a sharp two-edged sword. And the governor commanded them to bring Saint George out of prison and to throw him upon the instrument of torture. When Saint George turned and saw the shape of the cutting part of the machine, that the upper part of it was like the edge of a knife and the lower part a two-edged sword, he said within himself, “Verily, I shall never come forth alive from this instrument.” But again, afterwards, he said within himself, “Woe to thee, O George, why hast thou allowed this thought to enter thy heart ? Consider the lot which has come to thee, and remember that the Jews crucified the Lord Himself.” And after this he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “O Lord, the unchangeable God, the Ruler of eternity, to Whom belongeth victory, Thou Who givest grace to the martyrs, Whose glory and crown Thou art; Thou who, before Thou hadst created anything, yea, before Thou hadst created the heavens and the earth, didst rest upon the waters, and now Thou restest upon the whole race of man, and knowest Thou place of rest; Who hast spread out the heavens like a chamber, and at Whose command the clouds pour out rain in their season; Who rainest upon the just and the unjust; Who hast weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales; Who bringest the wind out of Thy store houses; Who hast cast the rebellious angels into the abyss of hell, where they are punished by evil dragons, and fettered and chained with indissoluble bonds; O Thou the least of Whose commands it is impossible to alter; O Lord God Who, in the last days, didst [p. 212] send into the world Thy only begotten Son, Who took upon Himself flesh by the Virgin Mary, and became man, without anyone being able to understand how to find out the manhood of Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, begotten of Thee in very truth; Who did walk upon the face of the sea as upon dry land; Who did feed five thousand men with five loaves of bread, and they were satisfied; Who did rebuke the waves of the sea and their crests were bowed down; come now, O my Lord, come Jesus, and help my infirmity, for I am a sinner; let these sufferings be light upon me, for Thine is the glory, and Thy name is full of glory for ever, Amen.”
When he had finished [his prayer and had said] “Amen”, they threw him on the wheel, and set it to work; and immediately his body was broken into ten pieces. Then straightway Dadianus lifted up his voice, saying, “Be strong and know, O ye governors, that there is no god save Apollo and Hermes and Zeus and Athene and Scamandros and Hephaistos and Herakles and Poseidon, who work good on the three parts of the sea, and from whose hands kings receive power. Where is now the God of Saint George Whom they call “Jesus”, Whom the Jews crucified and slew ? why has He not come and delivered him out of my hands ?” And the dragon of the abyss commanded them to throw his bones outside the city into a dry pit, saying within himself, “Lest the Christians find a bone of his, and build a martyrium over it, and bring up his blood against us.”
Now it was the hour for eating, and the governor, together with the sixty-nine governors who were with him, went to eat. And while they were greating there came a great earthquake, and suddenly the sky became overcast with clouds, and there was so great a trembling that mountains split asunder suddenly, the earth shook, and the sea was lashed into billows, and the [p. 213] waves thereof rose to the height of fifteen cubits. And Michael blew with his trumpet, and behold the Lord Jesus came upon His chariot of the Cherubim, and stood on the edge of the pit. And he said to the archangel Michael, “Go down into the pit, and gather together the bones of my son George, for this valiant George thought in his heart, “I shall not escape from this instrument (into which I had allowed him to fall) this time”; that he may believe with all his heart, and know that I alone am able to deliver him.” And Michael went down into the pit, and put together the holy body of Saint George: and the Lord took hold of his hand, saying, “O George my beloved, behold, the hand which formed Adam the first man is now about to create thee anew”; and the Lord breathed upon his face and filled him again with life, and He embraced him, and went up to heaven with His holy angels. And Saint George arose in haste from the dead, and went through the squares of the city looking for the governors, and he found them afterwards sitting in judgement. Then he ran into their presence, and said to them, “Do ye not know who I am ?” Dadianus the governor lifted his eyes guiltily, and said to the Saint, Who are thou then ?” The martyr of Christ replied, “I am George whom ye slew yesterday, because ye despiseed my God who could destroy you in a moment.” Dadianus continued looking into the face of the Saint, and said to him, “Thou art not he, but his shade”, and one said to him, “Perhaps it is some one like him”. And Anatolius the general knew him, and said, “Of a truth this is George who has risen from the dead”; and he believed with all his company. Now the number of those [of the army] who believed upon Christ was three thousand and nine and one woman from the multitude. And Dadianus the governor commanded them all to be cast forth outside the city in a desert place, and to be divided into four divisions and to be slain. Thus they consummated their martyrdom at the ninth [p. 214] hour of the Sabbath day on the fifteenth day of Phamenoth, and went to Paradise in glory, and received pardon for their sins.
Then the governor commanded them to bring Saint George to the tribune; and he commanded them to bring an iron bed to which they might bind the righteous man. Then he made them melt lead until it was liquid, and bring a vessel in the shape of an iron ladle and thrust it [full of lead] into his mouth. Then they drove sixty nails through his head into the bed. And Dadianus made them bring a great stone chiselled out to fit his head, and they thrust his head in it, and made it fast with lead, and they rolled him down with the stone [from a high place] and severed his bones one from another; but he bore these tortures with fortitude. Then Dadianus commanded them to remove the stone from him, and to hang him up head downwards, and to tie a large stone to him, and to light a huge fire under him.
After these things the governor commanded to throw him into a bronze “bull” and to drive sharp nails into it: then he commanded them to bring a machine to revolve inside the “bull”, that the body of the saint might be broken to pieces by the nails and his limbs become like the particles of dry summer dust; and Saint George bore all these things with fortitude. Then Dadianus commanded them to cast him into prison and to fasten him to the woodwork until he had decided what to do with him or how he should destroy him; now he was very handsome [p. 215] in appearance. And in that night the Lord appeared to him, saying, “Be patient, O George My chosen one, be of good cheer and be not dismayed, for I am with thee, and there shall be great joy in heaven for thy sake and for the sake of thy contest. Behold, thou hast died once and I raised thee up; thou shalt yet die twice and I will raise thee up again. But the fourth time I Myself will come in the clouds, and I will bring thee to the place of safety which I have prepared for thy body. It is I who give strength to thy holy body, and I will make thee to lie down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob; be not sad of heart for I am with thee. Thy martyrdom shall be consummated before these seventy governors, and thou shalt testify of Me before them. And they will torture thee for seven years for My name’s sake, but be not sad of heart, but of good cheer.” And the Lord saluted him, and went up to heaven with His holy angels, and the valiant martyr of Christ looked after Him, and continued looking until the day rose; and he rejoiced in the encouragement which the Lord had given him.
When it was morning, the governor commanded them to bring Saint George to the tribune. When they had brought him, one of the seventy governors, whose name was Magnentius, said to him, “O George, I seek a sign at thy hands, and if thou do it before me, by our lord the Sun, and by the seventy gods, and by Artemis the saviour of the whole world, I will believe on thy God, and will worship Him nobly.” Saint [p. 216] George said to him, “Say what thou wilt ask of me.” Magnentius the governor said to him, “Behold there are seventy thrones here, a throne for each of us, and the legs of them are made of various kinds of wood, some fruit-bearing and some not. Now, if thou wilt make manifest that each wooden leg takes root and blossoms through thy prayer; and that each one made of the wood of a fruit-bearing tree gives fruit; and that each one made of the wood of a tree which does not bear fruit puts forth leaves [only]; by this I will believe on thy God.” Then Saint George threw himself upon his face and prayed to God a long time, and sighed. And it came to pass that when he had finished his prayer and said “Amen”, and was rising up, there was a great trembling and shaking, for the Spirit of God came upon the thrones, and they budded and the legs put forth roots and blossomed: those that were of fruit-bearing trees put forth fruit, and those that were not put forth leaves only. Then Magnentius the governor said to him, “A great god is Herakles who thus manifests his power in dry wood.” Saint George answered and said, “Wilt thou compare this blind and dumb idol Herakles with the God who made the heavens and the earth, who made to exist that which did not exist and who can destroy thee with him speddily ?” Dadianus the governor answered and said to Saint George, “O excellent Galilean, I know how I will destroy thee.” Then he commanded them to bring a huge saw, and they sawed him in two, and so he yielded up his spirit. And he commanded a large cauldron to be brought [p. 217] and to throw the two parts of the body of the holy man into it, together with lead, and pitch, and animal fat, and bitumen; and they heated them together until they melted, and the flames went up to a great height, and that which was melted flowed hither and thither by reason of the intensity of the flames which rose to a height of fifteen cubits. And they brought pieces from the cauldron to the king, saying, “This (wretched man) has come to an end and is burnt up.” And Dadianus commanded them to bury the cauldron and the pieces of the saint which were in it in the earth, lest the Christians should find his remains and build a martyrium over them. When the attendants had finished burying the righteous man and were going away, there was a great trembling in the air and the earth shook to its foundations: and behold the Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven with His holy angels, and stood over the place wherein the cauldron was buried. And He said to Zalathiel the angel, “Bring up hither the cauldron”, and when he had brought it up he laid it down upon the ground. And the Lord, in Whom is might, answered [and said], “O George, my chosen one, arise ! For I am He that raised up Lazarus from the dead, and I now command thee to arise and come forth from the cauldron and stand upon thy feet; I am the Lord thy God.” And straightway the nobly valiant man rose up in great power as one who had suffered no pain at all; and every one who saw him marvelled. The Lord said to him, “Be strong and of good cheer, George, my beloved, for there shall be a great joy to thee in heaven and upon earth, and before My Good Father, and before My angels on account of thy contest; be strong, for I am with thee.” And He went up to heaven with his holy angels.
[p. 218]And Saint George arose and walked, and sent to the governor, saying, “Behold, I am going about the city, teaching.” And the governor straightway commanded them to seize him and to bring him to him to the tribune; and as he was coming he cried out, saying, “O tribune, O tribune, I and my Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God come to thee and thy Apollo.”
And behold, a woman whose name was Schollastike cried out to Saint George the martyr of Christ, saying, “O my lord George, my son was yoking his ox in the field, and the ox fell down and died. O my lord, help my poverty, for I know that my lord is able to do so through God.” The saint said to her, “Take this staff from my hands, and go to the field and lay it upon the dead ox, and say, “Thus saith Saint George in the name of Jesus Christ, Arise and stand up”;” and the woman did as he had told her, and the ox arose straightway. And the woman glorified God, saying, “Blessed is the hour in which thou didst come into this city, verily thou art a prophet and God hath visited His people.”
And again Dadianus sent after the martyr. When he had come, Trakiali the governor spake to him, saying, “Concerning the dry wood which budded, we know not of a certainty whether it was thy God who made it bud, or our god. Now behold we have here a sepulchre cut in the rock on the road to the cemetery, and no man knoweth where it is, nor where the opening of it is: but if through thy prayers the bones of those [p. 219] who are buried therin rise, I swear by my lord the Sun, and by the Moon and by Artemis the mother of the gods, that I will believe upon thy God and become a Christian.” The blessed George answered and said, “There come to me the words which I have heard in the Gospel, saying, If ye have faith like a grain of mustard seed ye shall say this to the mountain, Depart hence, [and it shall depart], and there shall be nothing impossible to you. But now arise, thou and Dadianus and the governors of Egypt, and open the door of the tomb and bring hither to me the rotten bones of those who are dead, together with their dust.” Then the three governors went straightway to the place of the sepulchre and opened the door, but they found no bones at all of the dead; and they took up the bone dust which they found, and brought it to Saint George: and Saint George threw himself down upon his knees, and prayed for the space of an hour. When he had finished his prayer and said, “Amen”, there was a mighty trembling, and flashes of lightning shone upon those bones. And there came forth immediately from them five men and nine women and three little children; and when the governors saw what had taken place, they marvelled. Then the governors cried out to one of those who had risen from the dead, and said to him, “What is thy name ?” And he that had risen from the dead answered and said, “My name is Boes.” Dadianus said to him, “How many years is it since thou didst die ?”, and he replied, “More than two hundred years.” Dadianus said to him, “Had Christ come into the world at that time, or not ?”, and he that had risen from the dead said, “I do not know, nor [p. 220] did I ever hear that He had come.” Dadianus said to him, “On what god dost thou believe ?”, and he that had risen from the dead said to him, “Do not force me, O governor, for I am ashamed to say what god I believed on. I believed on a god whom they called Apollo, a stupid, dumb, deaf and blind [idol]. When I left the evil living of this life, I went to live in a place in the river of fire, until I should go where the worm dieth not. Hast thou never heard of the Scriptures of the Christians which say, “Remember me in the day of terror in the place where there is no help, but disquiet and fear.” There is no mercy there, neither can the judge be persuaded; but the work which every man hath done shall be laid before His eyes. Then the Judge will answer and say, “Show me each one his work that I may give him his wages, according to that which he hath done;” hear then, O king, and I will tell thee. Every man who lives on earth, and confesses Him whom they crucified, if he bears many sins in his body when he departs from this wicked world, will live in fetters on account of his sins, but on the Lord’s day he will have rest because the Lord Jesus looks upon those who are punished on the Lord’s day; but as for me, there is no rest at all given to me on the Lord’s day because I did not confess Christ’s godhead when I lived upon earth. Why then should we confess and worship idols and images which cannot move ?” Dadianus the governor answered and said to him, “Thy sense is destroyed through the length of the time of the tw hundred years.” Then he that had risen from the dead looked upon Saint George [p. 221] the martyr of Christ, and said to him, “O my lord the holy martyr of Christ, we beseech thee to give us thy holy baptism of Christ, that we may not fall back again into the punishment in which we were.” When Saint George saw their faith, he smote the earth with his foot, and water welled up, and he baptized them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And he said to them, “Depart in peace to Paradise,” and they straightway disappeared and were not seen.
And Dadianus the governor was stupefied for a time. Then the governors who were with him said, “This man is a magician, and by his magic has made demons rise up before us, saying, “I have raised the dead””. Dadianus said, “I will now disgrace the whole race of Christians.” And he commanded, saying, “Choose me a poor widow woman whose like for poverty there is not in the whole world.” And they went round about through the city and found a poor widow, and they put the righteous man with her, wishing to disgrace the Christians. When they had brought the righteous man into the widow’s house, he said to her, “Give me some bread for I am hungry.” The poor widow woman answered and said to him, “Master, I have no bread in my house.” Saint George said to her, “What god dost thou believe on, that thou hast no bread in thy house ?” The woman said to him, “I believe in Apollo and Herakles the mighty imperial gods.” Saint George said to her, “Verily it is a just judgement of God that thou hast no bread in thy house.” And the woman looked upon his face, and saw that it was like that of an angel of God, and she said within herself, “I will go and beg bread from my neighbours and acquaintances, that I may set it before the man of God, and peradventure by reason of [p. 222] his coming into my house I shall find favour in the sight of my neighbours.” And it came to pass that when the poor widow woman had gone out the righteous man sat down by the foot of the wooden pillar in her house; and it straightway took root, and put forth leaves and became a large tree, and towered up fifteen cubits above the house. And behold Michael the archangel came with a table filled with all good things, and the saint ate and was comforted; and the table was filled with bread and every good thing. When the poor widow woman came into her house, and saw the great marvels, that is to say, the table set out within and filled with all good things, and the pillar of dry wood which had taken root, she said in her heart, “The God of the Christians hath remembered the poverty of the widow, and hath brought His martyr into my house to help me the wretched in spirit;” and she straightway threw herself down at the feet of the saint and worshipped him. Saint George answered and said to her, “Rise up and stand upon thy feet, for I am not the God of the Christians, but only His servant, and I endure sufferings for His holy name’s sake.” And again the woman said to him, “Master, if I have found favour before thee, let me venture to speak one word before thee.” The holy man said, “Speak.” The woman said to him, “Master, I have here a little boy who is blind, deaf, dumb, and lame, and I am ashamed to show him to my neighbours: if now thou wilt make him see and hear and speak, I will believe upon thy God.” The righteous man answered and said, “Bring hither the child to me;” and she brought him from the third storey of [p. 223] her house, and laid him in the bosom of the righteous man. And Saint George prayed over him with his head bowed down over the child lying in his bosom, and he breathed upon him, and the scales fell from his eyes, and he saw straightway with his eyes. The woman said to the saint, “Master, I beseech thee to make him to speak, and to hear with his ears, and to stand up and walk upon his feet.” Saint George said to her, “O woman, this is sufficient now, but when I need him to serve me in a matter, I will call him and he shall hear me, and shall go and serve me.” And the woman was not able to answer him a word, for she saw that his face was like the face of an angel of God.
And the lawless and impious governor, Dadianus, and the sixty-nine governors who were with him, came out from their meal, and were walking about and enjoying themselves in the open spaces of the city. When the dragon of the abyss, that is to say, Dadianus the governor, saw the tree which had sprung up by means of the righteous man, he asked one of his rulers, “[Whence] is this new sight, this fig tree ?” And he told him, saying “This is the place into which George the mighty saint of the Galileans was cast.”
Then the governor commanded to bring him and to set him before the public assembly, and he made them flog him without mercy until his flesh was cut to pieces, [and set fire under him] until his body was consumed through the intensity of the flame; and he made them put vessels of fire upon his head. After these things he made them hang him up to torture him, and they filled iron pots full of fire and placed them under him, [p. 224] until he yielded up his spirit. Then the governor commanded them to take his body and cast it away upon a high mountain, and the dragon said in his heart, “The birds of heaven will come and devour his flesh.” When they had taken away the body of the blessed man to a mountain called Siris, the attendants cast it away there, and returned. Now when these devilish attendants had come away from the mountain a short distance, about thirty stadia, there came mighty thunders and lightnings so that the whole mountain shook. And behold the Lord came upon a cloud, and said to Saint George, “O excellent and chosen one, rise up from where thou liest;” and straightway the martyr of Christ arose. And he ran after the attendants, crying out after them, and saying, “Wait a little for me until I come up with you”. When the attendants looked back, and saw the righteous man running after them, they glorified God, and threw themselves down at the feet of the saint, and besought him, saying, “Give us the seal of Christ,” and the blessed and righteous Saint George baptised them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Then they came and stood before the lawless governor, and they all cried out, “We are Christians, openly;” and the kings were speechless with fear by reason of this thing. Then Dadianus commanded them to bring the attendants and to set them before him, and he made them crucify one of them who was called Klaudane and torture him; two others called Lasiri and Lasiriane [p. 225] they put to the sword, and Klekon they threw to the wild beasts.
After these things the governors commanded them to bring Saint George. And Dadianus the governor answered and said to him, “O George, I swear to thee by my Lord the Sun, and by the Moon, and by the Gods, and by their mother Artemis, that I will treat thee kindly like my beloved son, and that I will gladly give thee every thing that thou askest; only hearken to me as a father, and agree with me only so far as to worship the gods.” Saint George answered and said to him, “I marvel at the words which thou hast just now spoken. I have been in thy power until this day, why hast thou not spoken them before ? Behold, thou hast put me to the torture for the past seven years, thou hast slain me thrice, I died three times, and three times did my Lord Jesus Christ raise me up; but I never heard these words before from thee until this present. Knowest thou not, O governor, that this race of Christians is one that loves victory, and that it fights against those that fight against it ? But now I rejoice that I can make thy mightiness glad, and I will offer sacrifice to thy great god Apollo whom thou lovest.” When Dadianus the governor heard these things, he rejoiced greatly and took hold of the head of Saint George and kissed it. And the righteous man resisted him, saying, “Nay, nay, O governor, for it is not the custom of the Galileans to be thus treated unless they have first worshipped the gods; command that they put me in [p. 226] prison until tomorrow.” The governor answered and said to him, “Far be it from me to punish thee henceforth; forgive me for all the sufferings that I have inflicted upon thee, for I wrought them on thee in ignorance. Accept me now as a father, and come, I will take thee into the interior of the palace where Queen Alexandra is resting in her chamber.” When the governor had brought him in, he put him in the chamber with Queen Alexandra, and he shut the door upon them both and went out, for it was evening. Then Saint George bowed his knees, and began to pray to God, saying, “O God, my God, there is none like unto Thee among the gods; Thou art the God who doest marvellous things. Why do the heathen cry out and the people imagine vain things ? All the governors and rulers of the earth are gathered together, and they speak against God and against His Christ.” Alexandra the Queen answered, and said to the saint, “O George, my master, I am listening unto thee attentively, and I like thy words. Who are these who “cry out” ? Who are these who “imagine [vain things]”, and who is “Christ” ? Teach me, I pray thee, that I may know him.” Saint George answered, saying, “If thou desirest to know Christ and His Words, O Queen Alexandra, listen. When God had created the heavens and the earth, He took a clod of earth and made a man like unto Him in His own form and likeness; thus he made flesh out of earth. Then again he created sinews in it, and He made the skin and the various other parts of the man, and the eyes, both seeing and unseeing (?), the tongue, the throat, the hands and every thing which is contained in man. Is not that which is within [us] of earth ? And the Lord Christ took upon Himself flesh from the holy Virgin Mary, and became man: He [p. 227] is the God who has raised me up from the dead, and it is for the sake of His Holy Name and of His Good Father, and the Holy Spirit that I have endured sufferings. For Adam’s sake, O Queen Alexandra, God made the heavens, and created the sun and the shining moon and the stars and the rest of creation.” The Queen answered and said to him, “Explain this matter to me.” Saint George said to her, “The idolaters who are in the world today worship abominable things and not God, for they serve soulless idols fashioned by the hands of man, and despise God the creator of the universe.” The Queen said to him, “Then are these gods, demons ?” Saint George said to her, “Yes, they are demons.” The Queen said to him, “How did the Son of God come into the world ?” Saint George answered and said to her, “Hearken unto me, O Queen Alexandra. The Prophet David saith, “Thou that sittest upon the cherubim, appear, show Thy strength, and come to help us.” And again he saith, “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass”, that is, the blessed Virgin Mary. And again the prophet Habakkuk cried out, saying, “O God, I heard the noise of Thee, and I was afraid. I considered Thy works and I was speechless.” When the prophet Habakkuk spake these things, he spake truly, for he knew that Jesus Christ would come down into this world, and he feared. And he considered that it was God who would become man, that salvation might be ours, and that HE might deliver us from the hand of the devil, the enemy of all truth, who leadeth astray these seventy wicked governors.” The Queen answered and said, “Verily thou speakest well, and hast persuaded me that Christ is the God of the universe; and now I [p. 228] beseech thee to pray for me, that all crafts and wiles of demons and idols may straightway flee awy from me.” Saint George answered and said to her, “If thou believest on Jesus Christ who was crucified, no blemish of demons shall draw nigh thee at all.” She said to him, “O George, my master, I believe, but I am afraid of the exceeding wicked governor, Dadianus, who devours flesh like a wild beast. Keep the matter secret, and tell no one until I wear the crown of martyrdom in the kingdom of Christ; and now let me rest until the morning.”
When the morning had come the governor commanded the herald to cry out through the whole city, saying, “Gather together, [O ye people,] to see this mighty Galilean worship Apollo.” And the governor commanded them to bring Saint George into the courtyard of the temple where he was to offer sacrifice to Apollo; but Saint George said to the attendants who had come after him, “Go ye to the governor, and I, and the priests, and the ministers of the temple will go to Apollo, and worship him.” And the herald continued to gather together with diligence the whole city, both small and great, to see the sight.
When the poor widow woman whose son Saint George had healed, saw this, she straightway uncovered her head and rent her clothes, and set out for the place where the saint was. And she said to him, “O thou who didst raise the dead; who didst make those blind from their birth to see; who didst make to appear those who were dried up and gone to dust; who didst make pieces of wood of fruit-bearing trees to blossom beautifully; who didst make the pillar of my house to take root and become a mighty tree, and didst cause a table to be filled with bread and all good things; who didst manifest forth multitudes of miracles and didst put the devil to shame; wilt thou now go to Apollo and worship [p. 229] him, and put to shame the whole race of Christians ?” When Saint George heard these things, he smiled upon her, and said, “Put down thy child out of thy arms”, and she put him down. Saint George said to the little child, “In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ I wish thee to come and be my servant in this matter,” and straightway the little boy heard with his ears, and came leaping towards Saint George. Saint George said to him, “Come, go into the temple of Apollo and say to his idol, “George the servant of Christ calleth thee.” And the evil spirit which sojourned in the idol cried out within him, saying, “O Nazarene, thou drawest every one to thee, and thou hast sent this little boy to me to disgrace me;” and straightway the idol of Apollo leaped down from his pedestal and came to Saint George. And Saint George answered and said to him, “Art thou the god of the heathen ?” The demon who sojourned in the idol said, “Bear with me a little, and I will tell thee every thing before thou askest me;” and Saint George said to him, “Speak”. And he began to speak and to declare everything, saying, “O master, and saint of God, thou art not ignorant that of old time God made a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and that God put in it the man He had made in His own likeness. And God said, “Let the angels come and worship him;” and straightway Michael and all his army of angels came and worshipped him. But I would not worship the man whom God [p. 230} had created, and I disputed the command of God, saying, “O righteous judge, whom the Cherubim full of eyes overshadow, how can I who am more excellent than this man, worship that which is inferior to me ?” Then God was very wroth with me, and He cast me forth from the glory with which I was surrounded, and He cast me forth from heaven like an eagle on a rock, and I was in fetters; and now I live in this idol, and I lead astray the children of men. And I fly and mount up to the firmament of heaven, and I hear the angels praising God, and when I hear the sentence pronounced that a man shall die and go forth from this world, I go to him and inflict sufferings upon him until he blasphemes God.” Saint George answered and said to him, “Thou hast not spoken the truth, O creator of [p. 231] lies. Thou wast cast forth from heaven on account of thy pride in having prepared a throne for thyself to sit uon, and for having made thyself equal with Him that is more exalted than thou: and He drove thee suddenly forth from heaven, with all thy hosts, into the depths of the sea.” When the spirit heard these things from him, he was speechless, and found not a word to say. And straightway Saint George smote the earth with his foot, and it opened its mouth, and he said to the idol, “Go down now into the abyss, O unclean spirit, and give speech to all the souls that thou hast destroyed;” and the unclean spirit went down straightway into the abyss together with the idol in which he dwelt. And Saint George smote the earth with his foot, and it closed up as it was before. After these things, Saint George unloosed his shoe-latchets, and went to the idol of Herakles, and pulled him down upon the ground, and broke him in pieces. And he said to the other idols, “Go down into the abyss, O gods of the heathen, For I have come against you in anger and wrath.” When the priests and the ministers and the attendants who waited upon the idols saw the destruction of their gods, they laid hold of Saint George, and tied his hands behind him, and took him to the governor, and showed him everything that had happened to the gods and to Apollo, saying, “He has been thrown down into the abyss.” And it came to pass that when Dadianus the governor heard these things, he was filled with fury, and said to Saint George, “O thou who art worthy of destruction, didst thou not say to me, “I will worship the glorious gods where thou dost worship them ?” and thou saidst that thou wouldst throw incense to them, and yet thou dost use works of magic in this manner; knowest thou not that thy life is in my hands ?” Saint George [p. 232] answered and said to him, “Go and bring Apollo hither to me, and I will worship him before thee.” Dadianus said to him, “It has just been told me by the priests that he has gone down into the abyss, and now thou wishest to send me thither alive.” Saint George answered and said to him, “If Apollo was the mighty god in whom thou didst trust to deliver thee in the evil day, how was it that he was unable to help himself, and was the first of all thy seventy gods to go to destruction ? When my Lord God cometh to change the heavens and the earth, what wilt thou and what will he in whom thou puttest thy trust do ?” Then the governor in great grief for the destruction of his god Apollo, went into the palace to Queen Alexandra, and said, “I suffer by reason of this race of Christians, and especially through this Galilean George.” Queen Alexandra answered and said to the governor, “Have I not told thee many times to let alone this race of Christians ? for their God is the true God, and He will humble thee in thy pride.” The governor answered and said to the Queen, “Woe is me, O Alexandra, for I fear that the magic of the Christians has entered into thee;” and he laid hold of the hair of her head, and dragged her along until he brought her to the sixty-nine governors who were with him, and he began to tell them everything that had happened. Then the governors commanded to bring her and to hang her upon the wooden horse to torture her, and she said never a word, but was looking up to heaven. And she looked in the face of Saint George, and said to him, “Pray for me while I suffer these tortures.” Saint [p. 233] George answered and said to her, “Bear them patiently for a little, O Queen, that thou may receivest a crown from the jands of my Lord Jesus Christ.” And she said to him, “O George, my master, what shall I do, for I have not received holy baptism by the pouring out of holy blood.” And while they were taking her away to destroy her, she cried out, saying, “O my Lord, Jesus Christ, behold I have kept the door of my palace open [to Thee], and have not closed it, do thou, O Lord, not close the door of the paradise of joy against me.” When Alexandra the Queen had said these things she nobly consummated her martyrdom on the fifteenth day of Pharmuthi at the third hour, and she received her incorruptible crown.
After these things the governors called Saint George and said to him, “Behold thou hast destroyed the Queen, and now we will gain the mastery over thee.” And Magnentius one of the governors said, “Let us pass sentence of death upon hin,” and the thing pleased them all. Then Dadianus the governor sat down and wrote his sentence of death, saying, “I give George the chief of the Galileans, who hath put the decrees of the governors behind his back, over to the sword; and know, O ye peoples, that we are innocent of his blood this day;” and the sixty-nine governors who were with him signed the writing. Then Saint George went to the place where he should receie his crown, [p. 234] rejoicing. When he had come to that spot, he said to the soldiers who were holding him, “Brethren, bear with me a little, that I may pray for the seventy governors who have tortured me during the last seven years.” Then Saint George looke up to heaven, and said, “O my Lord Jesus Christ, who didst send fire from heaven by Saint Elijah to devour the two captains of fifty and their hundred soldiers, let now I pray Thee that same fire come down from Thee and devour these seventy governors and those round about them, that not one of them may be left; for Thine is the glory for ever and ever, Amen.” And while he was praying there straightway came forth fire from heaven, and it devoured the seventy governors and their hosts, in number about five thousand. And again the saint asked the soldiers to wait a little longer, and he prayed, saying, “O my Lord Jesus Christ, I see a multitude here wishing to carry away my body, but my body will not suffice for the whole world. I beseech Thee to grant a favour to me, grant that my name may heal all those inflicted by unclean spirits, who shall remember thy servant George. O Lord my God, let every one who is greatly afraid in the place of judgement come forth in peace if he remembers my name; and do Thou write in the Book of Life the name of every one who shall write down my martyrdom and the sufferings which I have endured. If the heavens withold their rain from the earth, and men make mention of the name of the God of George, I beseech Thee grant that Thy help may support them speedily. O God of truth, for the sake of whose holy name I have suffered these pains, remember all those who shall show kindness to the poor in my name, and forgive them the sins which they have com [p. 235]mitted.” And when the saint had said these things in the fervour of his heart, behold the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him, saying, “Come up now into heaven, and rest thyself in the dwelling which I have prepared for thee in the kingdom of My Father which is in heaven. O excellent George, I will fulfil every thing which thou hast asked for, and many other things greater than these.” Then Saint George said to the executioners, “Come now, and perform that which has been commanded you;” and he stretched out his neck, and they took off his holy head, and there came forth water and milk. And Jesus Christ took his blessed soul and embraced it and took it up to heaven with Him, and gave it as a gift to His Good Father and the Holy Spirit. Then straightway the earth shook to its foundations, and there were suddenly thunders and lightnings so that no man passed that place for mighty dread. Now all those who became martyrs through Saint George were eight thousand, six hundred and ninety-nine together with Alexandra the Queen. And Saint George consummated his martyrdom on the twenty-third day of the month Pharmuthi, on the Lord’s day, at the ninth hour of the day. I Pasikrates the servant of Saint George was with my master until the end of his contest by the sentence of death of the impious governors. I have written down his holy martyrdom, and have added nothing thereto nor taken any thing therefrom; and my Lord Jesus Christ helped me, to Whom together with His Good Father and the Holy Spirit be glory for ever and ever, Amen.
The Passion of Ss. Luxurius, Camerinus and Cisellus (BHL 5092)
1. In their time the emperors Diocletian and Maximian were aroused by the devil to great savagery against the Christians, to tear down their churches, and burn their books. They afflicted with varied punishments many who believed in Christianity. They hoped that by their cruelty they would be able to overcome those whom the Lord in his mercy called to the palm of victory. Thus when idolators were not so mad as to rage against Christians in their own lands, the emperors sent judges throughout the whole world with their instructions to persecute Christians, so that they might be converted to the worship of their gods, or be killed by various penalties. At that time they sent a certain governor, Delphius, to Sardinia in order to fufil in that province which had been entrusted to him their instructions. When he was searching various areas to see if he could find any Christians who could agree with him, it happened that Luxurius a staunchly pagan apparitor was called to the Lord, and his soul was filled with divine inspiration.
2. He used keep a psalter on him since he wanted to read it; and when he read rapidly through the series of psalms he came to the 85th psalm where the prophet David says, “All the nations which you have made will come and worship in your presence, Lord, and will honour your name since you are great and achieve miracles; you alone are God.” When he read this psalm carefully Luxurius’ mind was opened, and he hastened to become a Christian. When he was marked by the sign of the cross of Christ he was made a catechumen. He then entered a church and heard people singing the psalm, “Repay your servant; I will live and I will guard your words.” Upon hearing this he was strenghthened in his faith in Christ, rejoiced in his heart and praised him. Therefore he began to curse the vain and worthless statues, and keep watch for the day of judgement as the days went by, and devote his mind ceaselessly to the scriptures. Within a short time he had memorised the psalter and some of the prophets.
3. Having read through sacred scripture in part, he examined the moral teaching, and with total longing he received holy baptism. Thereafter he committed the Apostle and the holy gospels to memory. His soul had been brought alive, and although he was attending negligently to his earthly military career, and was secretly a Christian, he was unwilling to bring the matter out into the open. When Luxurius had achieved Christian innocence, that opponent and enemy of innocent minds insinuated to the governor through his attendants that the apparitor Luxurius held contempt for his authority, and wished to follow the superstition of the Christians. Upon hearing this the governor was moved to anger, and he ordered the other apparitores to present Luxurius bound to him so that he might have someone against whom to unleash his malice.
4. On seeing him he addressed him thus, “What madness has led you astray from the good conduct of your life ? I held you in the highest regard, and I had thought of giving you a place of honour among my highest officials. Yet in contempt of the emperors and to the detriment of the gods you secretly considered removing yourself from my authority.” Luxurius said in reply to him, “If I had been engaged in the error of idolatory still, I would never have attained real honour. But I believe that I will now attain special honour through the living God Jesus Christ.” The governor said to him, “Is he whom you mention better, then, than our emperors or the immortal gods ?” Luxurius replied, “My Lord Jesus Christ is the king of Heaven. He suffered, died, and rose again, and will endure for eternity. However your gods never even existed.” The governor said, “If you want to escape the power of my sword, sacrifice to the gods.” And Luxurius replied, “I have learned to offer the sacrifice of righteousness, that is to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, and not to worship the worthless demons, since those who take their side will perish for eternity with them.” The governor announced, “Let Luxurius be returned to his cell bound by most weighty chains, and consider to himself what is the practical thing for him.”
5. When he had been freed again there were brought with him two neophyte youths, Cisillus and Camerinus. Then the governor, to whom the soldiers had brought them, asked the soldiers what they had learned about them. They said to him, “We heard that they are Christians.” And because they were not old enough to be questioned by interrogation, he ordered that they be kept in the care of his office. After some days he ordered that Luxurius be presented again to his tribunal. When he was present he spoke thus to him in a grim voice, “How long will you distress yourself amidst these torments ? Think about your safety. Deny your God, and sacrifice to the Gods.” Luxurius responded, “I cannot deny my God Jesus Christ, he whom the Christian soul confesses, just as I also do.” The governor said, “Worship the power of the gods that your life might be conceded to you.” Luxurius said, “How can I revere and adore constructions of wood, gold or silver which cannot move their eyelids to see me, or open their mouths to speak to me ?”
6. The governor was moved to anger by these words, and ordered that Luxurius be be whipped by four groups of four soldiers. However the servant of God remained steadfast in his faith as if someone other than he was being ordered to be continuously beaten. Then the emperor ordered that he be beaten with clubs. Steadfast and brave God’s chosen one sung the praises of the Lord amidst the blows of the clubs so that you might have thought that his body did not feel the torture. However when the most wicked governor saw that Luxurius could not be overcome by these most savage punishments, but that his patience was surpassed by that of Luxurius, he passed sentence on 20 August against Luxurius and the youths Cisillus and Camerinus. He ordered that the youths be put to the sword outside of the city of Calaritas, and that their lifeless bodies be dumped. While that evil man was considering the disposal of the bodies of the martyrs Jesus Christ received unto himself the precious trust of their innocence; for by night Christians took away the bodies and buried them where there stands now the church of the confessor saint Lucifer.
7. He ordered that Luxurius be taken away somewhere also, and beheaded in an uninhabited area, in order to prevent the Christians from collecting his corpse and making a martyr for themselves. Accordingly [the soldiers] brought him to the territory of Forum-Traiensis, and beheaded him there outside the town. And although these most wicked men thought that saint Luxurius could be destroyed in a desert, Christ revealed to him a paradise there on account of his name. So great a multitude of Christians from different places gathered at his shrine that no- one could count them. With hymns and various torches they buried him, smothered in sweet smelling ointments, in a crypt outside the town. If those who have faith in his passion, according as necessary, call upon him also, there will follow wonderful favours. Let them give thanks to Our Lord Jesus Christ who crowned for himself such a distinguished martyr. His is honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Passion of St. Maurice and the Theban Legion (BHL 5740)
1. I am unfolding with my pen an account of the suffering of the holy martyrs who light up Acaunum with their glorious blood, with especial faithfulness to the account of the martyrdom which has come down to us, since forgetfulness has not yet overtaken memory of the deed thanks to the report of successive generations. And if those individual places which possess them, or cities even, are distinguished by their individual martyrs, not undeservedly, because the saints pour forth their precious souls for God Most High, in how much awe should we hold that sacred place of the Acaunenses, where so many thousands of martyrs are said to have died by the sword for Christ ? Let me now recount the very cause of their most blessed passion.
2. During the reign of the Maximianus who ruled the Roman republic together with Diocletian as his colleague, crowds of martyrs were tortured or killed throughout various provinces. Furthermore, just as he raged because of his possession by greed, lust, cruelty and other vices, so also in his dedication towards unspeakable rites and his impiety towards the God of heaven did he arm his impiety to exstinguish the name of Christianity. So if anyone then dared to confess the worship of the true God, when bands of soldiers were scattered everywhere, they were snatched away for punishment or death, and he set his weapons directly against religion like a foreign soldier at a time of barbarian invasion.
3. There was at that same time in the army a legion of soldiers who were called the Thebaei. A legion so-called then contained 6,600 men under arms. When they had been summoned to his support by Maximianus from the regions of the East, these men, active in battle and renowned for their courage, although more renowned for their faith, came; they strove in bravery for the emperor, but in devotion to Christ. Mindful of gospel teaching even under arms, they returned that which was God’s to God and restored that which was Caesar’s to Caesar.
4. Accordingly, when these also were assigned to harass the multitude of Christians, just like the other soldiers, they alone dared to refuse the cruel task and declared that they would not obey commands of this kind. Maximianus was not far off, since, tired by his journey, he was resting near Octodurum. When it was reported to him there that this legion was in rebellion against his royal commands and had halted in the pass at Acaunum, he was inspired to indignation and burned with rage.
5. But before I report the rest of the story, it seems to me that I ought to include a description of the situation of this place in my account. Acaunus is almost 60 miles from the city of Geneva, and is 14 miles distant from Lake Lemannus into which the Rhone flows. The place itself is situated in a valley among the Alpine peaks and those travelling there find the path narrow and dangerous and the crossing difficult; for the hostile Rhone has left in the foothills of the rocky mountain a ridge which travellers can barely pass. When the narrows of the passes have been conquered and left behind, a not inconsiderable plain is suddenly revealed among the mountain cliffs. It was in this place that the holy legion had halted.
6. Accordingly, just as I have said above, when Maximianus learned the reply of the Thebaei, he burned with a fierce anger on account of their neglect of his commands, and ordered every tenth person from that same legion to be executed by the sword in order that others, terrified by fear, might more easily yield to royal injunctions; and he renewed his commands and ordered the remainder to be forced to persecute the Christians. When this repeat command reached the Thebaei, and they learned that impious actions were being enjoined upon the once more, there rose indiscriminately throughout the camp the hue and cry of men declaring that they would never submit to such sacrilegious tasks, that they had always cursed the wickedness of idols, that they had been steeped in the sacred rites and reared in the observation of the divine religion, that they worshipped the one eternal God and that they would suffer death rather than go against the Christian faith.
7. When Maximianus learned this next, crueller than any beast, he returned to his natural savagery once more and ordered every tenth man to be executed once more in order that the others might be forced nevertheless to those actions which they were refusing. When these commands were announced at the camp for a second time, the tenth men were chosen by lot, separated, and executed, but the remaining crowd of soldiers urged each other to continue in such a distinguished effort.
8. But the greatest incitement to faith at that time was the holy Maurice, primicerius, as it is called, of that legion then, who together with campidoctor Exuperius, as they say in the army, and the senator militum Candidus, encouraged [his fellow soldiers] by exhorting and advising them individually. Setting before them the examples of their faithful fellow soldiers, now martyrs, he persuaded them all also to die on behalf of the sacrament of Christ and the divine laws, if it should prove so necessary, and advised them to follow their allies and tentmates who had already preceded them into heaven. For a glorious desire for martyrdom burned in these most blessed men even then.
9. Accordingly, inspired by these leaders and authorities, they sent to Maximianus as he still burned with madness a message as brave as it was pious, which is said to have run in the following vein: “We are your soldiers, O emperor, but God’s servants, nevertheless, a fact that we freely confess. We owe military service to you, but just living to Him; from you we have received the pay for our toil, but from Him we have received the origin of life. No way can we follow an emperor in this, a command for us to deny God our Father, especially since our Father is your God and Father, whether you like it or not. Unless we are being forced on a path so destructive that we give offence in this manner, we will still obey you as we have done hitherto; otherwise, we will obey Him rather than you. We offer our hands, which we think wrong to sully with the blood of innocents, against any enemy. Those right hands know how to fight against wicked enemies, not how to torture pious citizens. We rember to take arms for citizens rather than against citizens. We have always fought for justice, piety, and the welfare of the innocent. These have been the prices of our dangers hitherto. We have fought for faith; what faith will we keep with you at all, if we do not exhibit faith to our God ? We swore oaths to God first, oaths to the king second; there is no need for you to trust us concerning the second, if we break the first. You order us to seek out Christians for punishment. You do not now have to seek out others on this charge, since you have us here confessing: “We believe in God the Father maker of all and God his Son Jesus Christ.” We have seen the allies of our toils and dangers being butchered with iron, and yet we neither wept nor grieved at the deaths of our most holy fellow soldiers and the murder of our brothers, but we praised and rejoiced in them rather, since they had been deemed worthy to suffer for the Lord their God. And this final necessity of life does not now force us into rebellion. That despair which is at its bravest amidst dangers has not even armed us against you, O emperor. Behold ! we hold arms and do not resist, because we well prefer to die rather than to live, and choose to perish as innocents rather than to live as criminals. If you ordain any further measure against us, give any further command, or direct any other measure, we are prepared to endure fire, torture, and steel. We confess that we are Christians and cannot persecute Christians.
10. When Maximianus heard these things and realised that the men’s minds were resolute in their faith in Christ, despairing that he could recall them from their glorious steadfastness, he decreed in one sentence that they were all to be killed and ordered the surrounding military columns to effect the matter. When these, having been sent, reached the most blessed legion, they drew their wicked swords against the holy men who did not refuse to die because of a love for life. Accordingly, they were indiscrimately slaughtered by the sword. They did not cry out even or fight back, but laid aside their arms and offered their necks to their persecutors, presenting their throat, or intact body even, to their executioners. Nor were they inspired by their number, or by the protection of their weapons, to attempt to assert the cause of justice by the sword; but remembering this alone, that they were confessing Him who was led to his death without a cry and, like a lamb, did not open his mouth, they, the Lord’s flock of sheep so to speak, also allowed themselves to be torn by the onrushing wolves as it were.
11. The earth there was covered by the bodies of the pious as they fell forward into death; rivers of precious blood flowed. What madness has ever effected so great a slaughter of human bodies outside of war ? What ferocity has in the one sentence ordered so many accused to be put to death at the same time ? Their multitude did not obtain the non-punishment of the just, although the wrong which the multitude does usually remains unpunished. Accordingly, that body of saints who despised the present world on account of their hope for the next was executed by the cruelty of a most monstrous tyrant. Thus was slain that quite angelic legion which forever praises the Lord God Sabaoth in heaven, together with the legions of angels, so we believe.
12. The martyr Victor did not belong to the same legion, nor was he a soldier, but a military veteran long discharged. When, during the course of a journey, he suddenly came upon those who were were happily and indiscriminately feasting upon the spoils of the martyrs and, having been invited by them to partake with them, had learned in detail from them the cause of their joy, he cursed his hosts and, having cursed them, fled from the feast. When they asked whether he was not also a Christian himself, by any chance, he replied that he was a Christian and would always remain one. They immediately rushed upon him and killed him, and just as he was joined to the other martyrs by his death in the same place, so too he was joined to them in honour.
13. Of that number of martyrs, these names alone are known to us, that is, those of the most blessed Maurice, Exuperius, Candidus, and Victor; the other names are unknown to us, indeed, but they have been written in the book of life.
14. The martyrs Ursus and Victor whom rumour alleges to have suffered at Salodorum are also said to have been from this same legion. Salodurum is a fortress-town above the river Arula, and is situated not far from the Rhine.
15. It is worth reporting also the fate which befell the savage tyrant Maximianus afterwards. When he contrived the death of his son-in-law Constantine, who was then in power, by means of an ambush, his trickery was discovered, he was captured at Marseilles, and was strangled not long afterwards. Punished in this most shameful way, he ended his wicked life with a fitting death.
16. Meanwhile, the bodies of the most blessed martyrs of Acaunum are said to have been revealed to holy Theodore, bishop of the same place, many years after their suffering. I do not think that a miracle which happened then when the basilica, which close at hand now to a large cliff lies inclined to one side, was being built in their honour, ought to be passed over in silence.
17. It happened that there was a certain workman among the rest of the craftsmen who seemed to have been invited and have gathered for that task whom, it was agreed, was a pagan still. When this man remained alone on the building on the Lord’s Day, when the others had departed in order to wait out the festivities of that day, the saints suddenly revealed themselves in a bright light in that lonely place. This workman was seized and stretched out for retribution or punishment even, and seeing the crowd of martyrs made visible, he was scolded and beaten, either because he alone was absent from church on the Lord’s Day or because he dared to undertake that holy work of construction even though a pagan. It is agreed that the saints did this so mercifully that, shocked and terrified, that workman demanded the saving name for himself and was immediately made into a Christian.
18. Nor should I pass over that one among the saints’ miracles which is especially famous and known to all. The wife of Quintus, an excellent and honourable man, when she had been so stricken by paralysis that even the use of her feet was being denied to her, asked her husband to be taken over the long journey to Acaunum. When she arrived there, she was carried into the basilica of the holy martyrs on the hands of her slaves, but returned to her lodging-house on foot, and she herself now reports around the miracle concerning the restoration of health to her paralysed limbs.
19. I decided that these two miracles only ought to be included in my account of the passion of the saints. Otherwise, there are many miracles which the power of the Lord works everyday there through his saints, either the expulsion of demons or other cures.
HERE ENDS THE PASSION WHICH IS OBSERVED ON 22 SEPTEMBER.
From Eucherius to the Lord Holy and Most Blessed Bishop in Christ, Salvius.
I have sent this written account of the passion of our martyrs to your blessedness; for I was afraid lest, through neglect, time should remove from the memory of men the account of so glorious a martyrdom. Moreover, I have sought the truth of this very matter from suitable sources, especially from those who claimed that they had learned the sequence of the account which I have related from holy Isaac, bishop of Geneva; who, I believe, had learned these things in turn again from the most blessed bishop Theodore, a man of an earlier time. Accordingly, although others from various places and provinces offer gifts of gold and silver and of other kinds in honour and service of the saints, I offer these writings of mine, if they are deemed worthy of your support, begging in return for these intercession for all my sins and the perennial protection for posterity of my patrons always. Remember me also as you engage before the sight of the Lord in the service of the saints, Lord Holy and deservedly Most Blessed brother.
The Passion of St. Maximilian of Tebessa (BHL 5813)
1. On the 12th day of March during the consulship of Tuscus and Anolinus , when Fabius Victor had been brought into the forum at Tebessa, together with Maximilianus, and their advocate Pompeianus had been granted an audience, the last declared, “The temonarius Fabius Victor is present, together with Valerianus Quintianus, the praepositus Caesariensis, and the fine recruit Maximilianus, Victor’s son. Since he is acceptable, I ask that he be measured.” The proconsul Dion said, “What are you called ?” Maximilianus replied, “Why do you want to know my name ? It is not permitted to me to serve in the military since I am a Christian”. The proconsul Dion said, “Ready him”. When he was being got ready, Maximilianus replied, “I cannot serve in the military; I cannot do wrong; I am a Christian.” The proconsul Dion said, “Let him be measured”. When he had been measured, an official reported, “He is five feet ten inches tall.” Dion said to the official, “Let him be marked.” And as Maximilianus resisted, he replied, “I will not do it; I cannot serve in the military.”
2. Dion said, “Serve so that you do not perish.” Maximilianus replied, “I will not serve; cut off my head; I do not serve the world, but I do serve my God.”Dion the proconsul said, “Who has persuaded you of this ?” Maximilianus replied, “My soul and he who has called me.” Dion said to his father Victor, “Advise your son.” Victor replied, “He himself knows – he has his purpose – what is best for him.” Dion said to Maximilianus, “Serve and accept the seal.” He replied, “I will not accept the seal: I already have the seal of my Christ.” Dion the proconsul said, “I will send you to your Christ right now.” He replied, “I wish that you would do so. That is even my title to glory.” Dion said to his staff, “Let him be marked.” And when he was resisting, he replied, “I do not accept the world’s seal, and if you give it to me, I will break it, since I value it at nought. I am a Christian. It is not permitted to me to bear the lead upon my neck after [having received] the saving seal of my Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, he whom you do not know, who suffered for the life of the world, whom God surrendered for our sins. All of us Christians serve Him. Him we follow as the source of life and author of salvation.” Dion said, “Serve, and accept the seal, so that you do not suffer a terrible death.” Maximilianus replied, “I will not die. My name is already with my Lord; I cannot serve in the military.” Dion said, “Have regard to your youth and serve; for this befits a young man.” Maximilianus replied, “My service is for my Lord; I cannot serve the world. I have already said: I am a Christian.” Dion the proconsul said, “There are Christian soldiers in the sacred retinue of our lords Diocletian, Maximianus, Constantius, and Maximus, and they serve.” Maximilianus replied, “They themselves know what is best for them. But I am a Christian, and I cannot do wrong.” Dio said, “What wrong do they who serve do ?” Maximilianus replied, “You know well what they do.” Dion replied, “Serve, lest, having scorned military service, you begin upon a terrible death.” Maximilianus replied, “I will will not die; even if I do depart the world, my spirit will live with my Lord Christ.”
3. Dion said, “Strike out his name.” And when it had been struck out, Dion said, “Because you have disloyally refused military service, you will receive the appropriate sentence in order to serve as an example to others.” And he read his decision from his tablet, “Maximilianus, since you have disloyally refused the military oath, it has been decided for you to be punished by the sword.” Maximilianus replied, “Thanks be to God.” He was 21 years, 3 months, and 18 days old. And when he was being led to the place [of execution], he spoke as follows, “Dearest brothers, with an eager desire, hurry with as much courage as you can so that it may befall you to see the Lord and that he may reward you also with a similar crown.” And with a joyous face, he addressed his father as follows, “Give that guard the new clothing which you had got ready for me during my military service, so that I may welcome you with a hundredfold reward and we may glory with the Lord together.” And so he suffered death shortly afterwards. And the matron Pompeiana obtained his body from the judge and, having placed it in her carriage, she brought it to Carthage, and buried it beneath a little hill near the martyr Cyprian and the palace. And so, after the 13th day, the same woman died, and was buried there. But his father Victor returned to his home with great joy, thanking God that he had sent on ahead such a gift to the Lord, he who was about to follow shortly afterwards.
Bastiaensan, A.A.R. et al. (eds.), Atti e passioni dei martiri (1987), 238-45 [BHL 5813]
Bremmer, J. and den Boeft, J. “Notiunculae Martyrologicae II”, Vigiliae Christianae 36 (1982), 383-402, at 393-95
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Cacitti, R. “Massimiliano – un obiettore di coscienza del tardo impero”, Humanitas 36 (1980), 828-41
Delehaye, H. “Réfractaire et martyr”, in his Mélanges d’Hagiographie Grecque et Latine (Brussels, 1966)
di Lorenzo, E. Gli Acta S. Maximiliani Martyris (Naples, 1975)
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Siniscalco, P. “Bibbia e letteratura cristiana d’Africa nella “Passio S. Maximiliani”, in Forma Futuri: Studi in onore del Cardinale Michele Pellegrinio (Turin, 1975), 595-613
Zuckerman, C. “Two Reforms of the 370s: Recruiting Soldiers and Senators in the Divided Empire”, Revue des Études Byzantines 56 (1998), 79-139, at 136-139
Woods, D. “St. Maximilian and the Jizya“, in P. Defosse (ed.), Hommages à Carl Deroux. V. Christianisme et Moyen Âge, Néo-latin et survivance de la latinité (Collection Latomus 279: Brussels, 2003), 266-76
The Passion of St. Marcellus (BHL 5255a)
1. During the consulship of Faustus and Gallus , on the 5th day before the kalends of August [28 July], when the former centurion of the first cohort had been brought in, the praeses Fortunatus said, “What were you thinking to discard your belt and hurl down your sword and staff ?”
2. Marcellus replied, “I have already told you on 21 July, loudly and in public, before the standards of this legion, when you were celebrating the anniversary of your emperor, that I am a Christian and cannot observe this oath unless to Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.”
3. The praeses Fortunatus said, “I cannot conceal your rash behaviour and so I will report these things to the ears of our lords the Augusti and Caesars. You, of course, will be sent to the court of my lord Aurelius Agricolanus, the vice-praetorian prefect, under armed guard by the consular official Cecilius.
3a. “Manilius Fortunatus sends greetings to his lord Agricolanus. On the anniversary most happy and blessed throughout the whole world of our same lords the Augusti and Caesars, when we were willingly celebrating the festival, lord Aurelius Agricolanus, the centurio ordinarius Marcellus, seized by what madness I do not know, wantonly disgirded himself of belt and sword and decided to hurl down the staff which he was carrying before the very headquarters of our lords. I have decided that it was necessary to report what was done to your power, even for him to have been sent to you also.”
4. During the consulship of Faustus and Gallus, at Tingis, on the third day before the kalends of November, when Marcellus, the former centurion of the first cohort, had been brought in, an official announced, “The praeses Fortunatus has sent him to your power. There is here for your greatness also a letter concerning his case which I will read out if you so direct.”
5. Agricolanus said, “Let it be read out.”
6. [See 3a]
7. When it had been read out, Agricolanus said, “Did you say those things which are recorded in the praeses’ record ?”
8. Marcellus said, “I did.”
9. Agricolanus said, “Were you serving as a centurio ordinarius ?”
10. Marcellus said, “I was.”
11. Agricolanus said, “What madness possessed you to cast aside aside your oath and say such things ?”
12. Marcellus said, “No madness possesses him who fears God.”
13. Agricolanus said, “Did you make these separate statements which are recorded in the praeses’ record ?”
14. Marcellus said, “I did.”
15. Agricolanus said, “Did you hurl down your weapons ?”
16. Marcellus said, “I did. It is not proper for a Christian man, one who fears the Lord Christ, to engage in earthly military service.”
17. Agricolanus said, “Marcellus’ actions are such that they ought to be disciplined.” And so he stated, “It pleases (the court) that Marcellus, who defiled the office of centurion which he held by his public rejection of the oath and, furthermore, according to the praeses’ records, gave in testimony words full of madness, should be executed by the sword.”
The Passion of St. Menas of Cotyaeum (BHG 1250)
1. During the reigns of Diocletian and Maximian, the hostile enemies of the king of truth, instructions were sent about the whole world which ordered the performance of unholy religious rites and threatened death as the penalty for those not obeying their instructions, those souls unchanging in their solid faith in Christ. What suffering did not afflict thereafter those who loved the Lord ? The prisons were packed with the crowds who were caught daily. Those places which had once abounded in inhabitants showed themselves deserted, and the deserts were changed into cities by the multitude of refugees. The friends of truth were surrendered to punishment as if they had witnessed the foullest deeds. Their possessions were plundered. The laws of nature were upturned, with father surrendering son to death, and son receiving father in return with similar ambitions. Dark night fell upon everything, the faithful were driven out everywhere, and the defenders of impiety grew stronger at every hand. Even the air itself was defiled by the blood and steam of the sacrifices. Then, then shone forth this man, the wonderful Menas, famous for his virtue. He had Egypt as his native-land, and a father and ancestors who were not unshakeable in their faithfulness, but were unsecure in their steadfastness. His career was the military, and he was assigned to a commander by the name of Firmilianus. He himself was in command of the cohors Rutilliacorum, and in presence of mind, size, looks and the other qualities which physical prime and nobility usually display, he surpassed all the others.
2. When he arrived with his commander at the metropolis of Cotyaeum he heard the impious command of the rulers, threw off his military-belt, and betook himself abroad to desert regions, preferring to pass his life with wild-beasts rather than with idolators. He purified his senses, and enlightened his mind, by means of fasts, vigils, and careful attention to the words of God. He was initiated through revelation into the secrets of piety. Thinking that this was the right-time which had been long delayed, having waited for the day on which the whole city of Cotyaeum conducted a public festival of racing and athletics and gathered at the theatre, when it held the whole people watching- down, people of every race, Jews and Greeks, and christians likewise, and all were already intent with all their eyes upon the horse-racing, he left his way of life in the mountains, and descended to the city. When he was in the middle of the theatre, disregarding all those who were about the stadium, he climbed to the raised part from where he could be seen by all and he shouted out loudly, “I have been found by those who were not seeking me, I have become present to those who were not asking for me.” By these words he revealed that he had come willingly, and not by force, to the contests, stripped naked as it were. Thus the martyr turned their attention upon himself. The goings-on in the theatre were disregarded. The horse-race was spat upon. Nothing was more important to anyone than this alone, to see who had displayed such daring. Those of like zeal for piety wondered at the martyr for his outspokeness and revealed themselves by jumping for joy, but those who were enemies of the truth incited the judge to his murder.
3. When the cry of the heralds announced silence, and quitened the clamour of the people and the noise of the flutes, Menas was immediately grabbed and led to the governor Pyrrhus, who was then sitting on high as a spectator of the games. In pretence of fairness Pyrrhus first made a welcoming address, and in a gentle and mild voice asked him who he was and where he came from. The martyr stated in reply his native-land, race, military service, and the manner of his flight, and proclaimed in front of all that he was a slave of Jesus Christ. Immediately the judged dropped his pretence of mildness for his natural viciousness, and reserving the interrogation for the following day he sent him to prison in chains. He himself, having spent the whole day at the completion of the spectacle, began the interrogation on the following day seething with anger. Therefore, dismissing all other matters, he accused him of reckless daring. For this roused him all the more to fury, that he thought his outspokeness was contempt for him personally. He, as if he took all the more pride in this, responded more boldly still, saying, “It is fitting to confess God in this manner, since He is light, and there is no darkness in Him. Paul taught us this, saying, “He who hopes in his heart for righteousness, confesses for salvation with his lips.””
4. Thus the boldness of his reply astounded the judge, and again he concealed his anger, and again he pretended mildness, in order to relax the martyr’s courage by means of flattery. He said, “Do not throw away this most sweet life, Menas, nor exchange the light desired by all men for a premature death; but take my advice that you might lead a happy and prosperous life, and acquire gifts and honours from the emperors, and be admired by all and thought worthy of emulation.” However the martyr laughed loudly and pleasantly at these things, seeing that he thought them clearly worthless and the bait for children rather than intelligent men, and answered him with these words from his treasury: “Nothing is worth as much to me as the kingdom of Heaven,” he said, “for the whole universe is not worth one soul. But if you want to please me, begin rather the trial by torture, for in that way you will gain for me true happiness.”
5. Thus when Pyrrhus heard these words, he could be restrained no longer, but rushed to torture him at that spot. Watching the servants crossly, he ordered that the martyr be spreadeagled and brutally beaten with leather thongs. When he was suffering greatly in this way, and the blood running from his wounds was reddening the earth, one of the bystanders, a certain Pegasius, surnamed Princeps, feigning concern, said to him: ” Now you see, sir, the danger of disobedience, consider the action suited to the circumstance, and offer sacrifice before your flesh is completely destroyed by the whips. For perhaps your god will forgive you for this action because of the unbearable nature of the tortures.” When he had spoken thus, the martyr gave him a piercing stare, hurt more by his words than the whips. He cried out publicly, “Get away from me all you workers of evil. For I have offered, and will continue to offer, the sacrifice of praise to my God, He who is my helper and has made me think of these whips of yours more as delights than tortures.”
6.When the judge saw that his endurance was not the least shaken by the torture, but rather that his outspokeness was the more eloquent, he turned to another punishment. Ordering first that he be suspended from a stake, he commanded that his body be torn to shreds with iron hooks. Then the judge, as if mocking, addressed the holy man ironically, “Did you feel any pain,” he said, “or do you want us to lavish you with greater pleasure ?” But the martyr, even though he was being torn said, “Why do you delay ? Do you think that I am at all affected by this brief torture, or that the unshaken tower of faith which is in me can be moved by this ?” When the governor heard this he commanded that he be torn even more violently, and ordered that he should not confess as king anyone except the real king. But the martyr replied, “Since you do not know who he is whom I confess as king, because of this blasphemy which you speak against him, when you compare him to the perishable and earth-born; He is rather he who established them in his rule, the Lord of all flesh and spirit.” Then the judge, who did not want to learn, but acted ignorant, replied, “Who is this who gives power to all kings, and is Lord of all ?”
7. When remembrance of him who had been suspended on a cross for our sake refreshed the wearied and suffering body of the martyr who had hung for such a long time, the governor was all the more violently smitten with madness therefore, and he ordered that his raw flesh be dressed with ragged clothes. When this was being done the martyr said, “I remove today the the tunic of my skin, but I don the garment of salvation.” Then the judge ordered that fire-brands be set to them, but these seemed to burn weakly in comparison with the eternal flame. For by the power of Christ the martyr was seen to scorn all that was inflicted upon him. By the same source also he boldly addressed those who were punishing him, “I have been persuaded by my Lord and King not to be fearful of those who slay the body, but are unable to kill the soul, but to fear rather he who is able to destroy both the soul and the body in Hell.”
8. When the judge saw that the great outspokeness of the martyr was unchecked, turning over in his mind also the most suitable response to his answers, he abandoned the tortures, turned to persuasion, and said, “Tell me, good sir, where did you get your elegant speech, you being a soldier and as yet unversed in literature yesterday and the day before, knowing more about wars than the practice and rules of disputation ?” When the martyr said that these were the words of Christ who said, “When you are brought before governors and kings for my sake, do not think how or what to say: for it will be given to you at that hour what to say,” the governor replied, “So it was foreknown to your Christ that you would suffer such things ?” The martyr said,” Since he is the true God, it follows that he also knows the events of the future. For he is the cause and sustenance of all, and knows all things before they come into being.” Thus, being at a loss as to the proper reply to this, the judge said, “I want you, leaving aside these superfluous words of persuasion, to choose one of these two options, either doing what is right and living with us, or confessing on behalf of Christ.” When with great outspokenes the martyr said, “I have been, am, and will remain with Christ,” the governor answered that he was patient with him even still, and he ordered some time for thought to be granted to him. For in admiration both of his endurance and his intelligence, he was eager to win him over by persuasion so that the world did not loose such a man.
9. When after these things the martyr addressed him in words even more courageous, explicitly confessing that Christ was God, calling the gods whom he worshipped foul demons, the governor, greatly incensed with anger again, ordered that iron spikes be scattered over the ground, and that he be dragged over them in the cruellest manner, bound both hand and foot. He, as if he were being drawn through a meadow of soft flowers, continued with a free tongue insulting the gods and demons of the other. For these things the judge ordered that the holy man be brutally beaten again about the neck and jaws. “Do not in your contempt of the gods shamelessly strike them with your insults also,” he said. When the martyr had been beaten for several hours, one of those from the unit, a certain Heliodorus, came forward, and “Lord governor,” he said, “I do not think that it escapes your notice that it is the madness of those called christians to endure tortures more stubbornly than a statue even, and to regard death as some sort of sweet drink. Therefore to release yourself from useless toil in respect of this man, you should be eager rather to pass swifter sentence upon him.” Thus, since the governor had given up and was considering imposing the ultimate sentence upon him, some former mess-mates and friends came forward. They wiped him clean, clothed and embraced him. They begged and entreated him, and thinking to persuade him to do the expedient thing they said: “Do not disregard, O Menas, the friendship of your companions and the honour of your military career, the enjoyment of pleasures and life which is by its nature prized by all. Do not prefer disgrace to honour, death to life.” The martyr, avoiding their demands like snake venom, replied, “Stop, you enemies of God, and with better effect advise yourselves rather to cease from this madness so great. For after a short time this temporary life so beloved of you will pass by, but eternal and everlasting punishment awaits you, which punishment will rightly be your lot along with the governor and his emperors.”
10. When the judge had seen how strongly the martyr was resisting everything which was being said and done to him, he readied not for further interrogation but for the final sentence. Having consulted with those who were of one mind with him in his impiety, he passed the death penalty upon Menas. He set by his side a guard with a drawn sword, and indicated the place outside of the city. When the place had been reached, and the second lap [of his contest] was revealed to the martyr as more glorious than the first, he met some people whom he knew a little and with a prayer he blessed them with the sign of the cross. He appeared full of joy, as one who bears in mind the happiness which has been laid aside for him, so that he advanced in thanksgiving to the happiness which he had not yet received. He said, “I thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have counted me worthy to be seen to share in your suffering, and have not given me as food to the wild beasts, but have brought it about that I will preserve my faith in you pure until the end.” When he had said these things and kneeled down, he bent forward to receive the blow of the sword. And after the blow the holy body was burned on a fire. Thus the martyr’s perishable corpse was destroyed, but his soul was carried away by angels to his blessed lot. Then some pious men became concerned for the remains of the martyr, so that they gathered them up from the fire and stored them in well-known locations. When they had gathered them up and wrapped them in fine cloth, had annointed them with oils and perfumes, and had done everything for them which it was right for them to do, a little later they returned each to his own nativeland, just as the martyr had instructed them before his death. For it was right that that land which had both given birth to and nourished him should receive him perfected by his martyrdom, that none should take the place of the mother, and no land except this enjoy the grace of the martyr’s relics. This was wisely accomplished by the providence of Christ, to whom belongs all glory, honour, power, greatness and magnificence, now and always and until the end of time. Amen.
(Translation from E.A.W. Budge (1909), 39-43)
The fifteenth Day of Khadâr
On this day Saint Mînâs, the interpretation of whose name is “faithful and blessed”, became a martyr. The father of this holy man was one of the men of the city of Nâkîûyôs, whose name was ‘Awdôkyôs (Eudoxius), and he was a prefect and governor. And his brother was jealous of him, and made an accusation against him to the king, who sent him away to the country of Afrâkya (Phrygia), and appointed him governor over that country. And the people of that country rejoiced in him, for he was a merciful man, and he feared God. Now the mother of Saint M had no child. And one day, on the festival of our holy Lady the Virgin Mary, she went to church, and she saw the sons of the church wearing fine apparel, and coming to church, and she cried out and wept before the image of our holy Lady the Virgin Mary, and she entreated her to make supplication to God on her behalf [p. 40] that He might give her a son. And there went forth a voice from the image of our holy Lady the Virgin Mary, saying, “Amen.” And she told her husband of the voice which she had heard from the image of our Lady Mary; and her husband said unto her, “The Will of God be done.” And after a few days God gave her this holy son, and she called his name “Mînâs”, according to the voice which she had heard from the image of our Lady Mary.
And when he had grown up a little Eudoxius taught him the Scriptures and spiritual doctrine. And when he was eleven years old, his father died, being a very old man. And about three years later his mother died; and Saint Mînâs was left by himself, fasting and praying. And although the officers, on account of their great love for his father, gave him his father’s position, he would not forsake the worship of Christ.
And when Diocletian denied [Christ] he commanded all the people to worship idols, and many became martyrs for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory ! And at that time Mînâs left his appointment, and departed to the desert, and he dwelt [there] many days, contending greatly. And one day he saw heaven open, and the martyrs crowned with beautiful crowns, and he heard a voice which said unto him, “He who laboureth for the Name of Jesus Christ, to whom be glory ! shall receive crowns like unto these.” And he returned to the city and confessed the Name of Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory ! And many men received him because they knew that he belonged to a noble family. And the governor promised him rich apparel and many great honours, but he would neither hearken to his command, nor turn from his excellent counsel. And straightway the governor commanded him to be beaten with a severe beating, and when the men were worn out with torturing [p. 41] him, the governor commanded them to cut off his head with a sword. And they cut off his head straightway, and he received the crowns of martyrdom in the kingdom of the heavens. And many men became martyrs because of him, and for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory !
Now the governor had commanded them to cast the body of the holy man into the fire, but [certain] believing men took the body of the holy man out of the fire, which had neither touched it nor harmed it, and no injury whatsoever had come upon it. And they laid it up in a certain place until the end of the days of persecution.
And in those days the men of the region of Maryt (Mareotis) wished to collect a troop of men from the Five Cities, and they took the body of Saint Mînâs with them that it might be unto them a help, and might protect them on the way. And as they were sitting in the ship, the body of Saint Mînâs being with them, beasts came up out of the sea, and their faces were like unto the faces of serpents, and their necks like unto those of camels. And they stretched out th eir necks to the body of the holy man, and licked it; and the men were afraid with a great fear. And there went forth fire from the body of the holy man and consumed the faces of the beasts. And when they had come to the city of Alexandria, and had finished their business, they wanted to return to their country, and to take the body of Saint Mînâs with them. And when they had set his body upon a camel that camel would not rise up; and though they beat the camel with a severe beating he would not move at all. And they knew that this was the will of God, and they built a shrine over the saint, and buried him therein, and departed.
[p. 42] And God wished to reveal the [place of the] body of Saint Mînâs. And there was in that desert a certain shepherd, and one day a sheep which was suffering from the disease of the scab went to that place, and dipped himself in the water of the little spring which was near the place, and he rolled about in it and was healed straightway. And when the shepherd saw this thing, and understood the miracle, he marvelled exceedingly and was astonished. And [afterwards he used to take some of the dust from that shrine, and mix it with water, and rub it on the sheep, and if they were ill with the scab, they were straightway healed thereby. And this he used to do at all times, and he h eald all the sick who came to him by this means.
And the king of Constantinople heard the report of this matter. And he had an only daughter who was suffering from a disease of the skin, and he sent her to that place, but she was unwilling to take off her apparel before the men. And she asked the shepherd in what way he worked, and how he healed the sick, and the shepherd told her how he did it. And she took dust from that place, and mixed it with water from the spring, and she rubbed the whole of her body wherewith. Now she slept that night in that place. And Saint Mînâs appeared unto her, and said unto her, “When thou risest up in the morning, dig, and thou shalt find my body”; and straightway she was healed of her sickness. And having risen up, being healed of her sickness, she commanded them to dig in that place, and immediately they found the body of Saint Mînâs. And she rejoiced exceedingly with great joy, and she sent a letter to her father and made this matter known unto him. And the king built a church over the body of the saint.
And a beautiful church was also buit to him in that [p. 43] place in the days of the righteous Emperors Arcadius (395-408) and Honorius, who commanded them to build a great city there; and a great city was built there according as the righteous Emperors had commanded.And they laid the body of Saint Mînâs in that church, and signs and great wonders were made manifest through his body. And people of all kinds used to cone into that Church, and they were healed of their sicknesses, and signs and wonders were made manifest in that church. And Satan was envious, and stirred up certain evil men of the city, and they destroyed the church, and laid waste the city, and carried away the body of Saint Mînâs. And other men built a church to him there, and they laid his body in it, and there more signs and more mighty wonders took place than before. May his blessing be with, &c.
The Passion of St. Mercurius (BHG 1274)
The Martyrdom of the Holy Martyr Mercurius
1. At that time, when Decius and Vallerianus reigned in the great city of Rome, they decreed that everyone everywhere should offer sacrifice and libations to the gods. Therefore, they summoned the whole Senate and referred to them the matters which had been decided by them in harmony. And discovering that they were in agreement with their plan, they were exceedingly pleased. So they immediately ordered their common decisions to be set up in imperial letters, together with the Senate’s subscription, and they posted up a letter of this type in the Capitol.
2. “The imperial, triumphant, victorious, venerable and pious emperors Decius and Vallerianus, with the agreement of the Senate which is of like mind, have decreed the following: In recognition of the benefits and gifts of the gods, and in enjoyment at the same time of the victory over the enemy which was furnished to us by them, notwithstanding as well the mildness of the breezes and the abundance of every kind of fruit, and in recognition that they are the benefactors of the common profit, for this sake we decree in one vote that every class of freedman and slave, of soldier and private citizen, should pay favourable sacrifices to the gods, prostrating themselves before them and making supplications. If anyone wants to depart from our divine letter published in harmony by us, we order him to be bound in chains and then to be subjected to various tortures in this condition. And if he is persuaded [to obey], he will not recover the honours received from us, but if he declares his opposition, he will suffer punishment by the sword after many assaults, or be thrown into the sea or be given as food to birds and dogs. Exceptionally, if any followers of the religion of the Christians are discovered, let them be subjected to this penalty. Those who obey our divine ordinances will enjoy the greatest honours and gifts. Farewell, most fortunate people.”
3. So when the imperial letter had been posted up, the whole city was filled with confusion because of the posting of this impious letter up throughout the whole city. Now it happened at this time that, since barbarians had risen in war against the Romans, the emperors were readying an army suitable to stand in battle with them, and ordered even those units stationed in all the cities to join their alliance. Among those who arrived first from each city and land in preparation for this war, there also chanced the unit of those called the Martenses who were from Armenia Prima and were under the command of a tribune by the name of Saturninus.
4. Now when Decius set out for the war, Vallerianus delayed at Rome, and a long time passed while war thundered on between the barbarians and the Romans. While they continued in engagement, a vision appeared to one of the Martenses from Armenia Prima by the name of Mercurius, a certain immensely great, white-clad man. He held a sword in his right hand and said to him, “Do not fear or be afraid. For I have been sent in order to help you and make you victorious. So take this sword and attack the barbarians and, when you have triumphed, do not forget the Lord your God.” And taking the sword and a fresh breath, he charged against the barbarians. He broke through them, and slew their king and many others so that his arm was worn out and his sword stuck in his hand as a result of the blood. And in this way the barbarians took flight and were driven away by the Romans.
5. Then Decius, learning about the man’s single-combat, summoned him, gave him the rank of general and placed him in charge of the army. And Decius, thinking that he had triumphed in the war because of the providence of the gods, rejoiced greatly. And having rewarded the soldiers with a lot of money, he sent each off home. He himself offered great prayers of thanks as he entered every city during his journey back to Rome. And one night while the general was sleeping, there appeared to him an angel of the Lord in the first rank. And nudging his side, [the angel] woke him up. [Mercurius] was afraid when he saw him, and remained quiet. And the angel said to him, “Mercurius, do you remember what I said to you during the clash of battle ? See, do not forget the Lord your God. For you must compete in the customary manner on his behalf and gain the crown of victory in the heavenly kingdom together with all the saints.” And having said these things, the angel departed from him. [Mercurius] withdrew into himself, remembered, and gave thanks to God. He knew the faith of the Christians from his ancestors. For his father Gordianus, who had happened to be a primicerius in the same unit, had often used to say, “Blessed is he who serves the heavenly king, since he offers him the heavenly kingdom. For that king created everything through [His] Word and it is He who will judge the living and the dead and reward each according to his works.” So coming to himself and remembering the words of his father and the vision seen by him, he began to confess with tears and to speak thus, “Alas for [me] a sinner, since, starting off as a branch of a blooming tree, I have become withered with no shoot of knowledge of God.”
6. And while he was saying these things, a silentiarius was sent to him from the king, with several others also, in order to summon him to the king. While he was being asked [to come], Decius postponed a council-meeting, and summoned it for the following day. When [Mercurius] was present and the council was full, the king said, “Let us proceed together to the temple of Artemis and make an offering to her.” The saint turned about and went away to his praetorium. And one of the nobles informed against him to king, saying, “O most sacred, triumphant, victorious one, you who have been judged worthy by the gods to govern the kingdom, deign to listen to me in calm. He who was honoured by your imperial right-hand and was thought worthy by your calmly governing kingship [of managing] the affairs of the Romans, this man was not present with us in the temple of the great Artemis in order to make an offering on behalf of your rule.” The king said, “Who is this man ?” Catellus, a former consul, said, “Mercurius, he whom you made great and distinguished with various honours. He even discourages others from honouring the gods, but his answer to you will reveal his aim.” Decius said, “Perhaps you are consumed with envy of the man against whom you have said such things. I will not listen to you unless I learn the truth in a face-to-face discussion. For I believe that eyes make more trustworthy witnesses than ears. So be quiet and say nothing about this man. And if you you have said such things against him with slanderous intent, you will suffer the appropriate penalty. But if what you have said is shown to be true, you will meet with honours and gifts from me as one who is well-disposed towards the gods and me.” And he ordered [Mercurius] to come in the dignity befitting him.
7. When he was present, Decius said to him, “Mercurius, did I not set you in this position of honour and make you commander of the army in the presence of all my governors because your victory in the war happened by the will of the gods ? How can it be that, miscalculating the value of this honour, you have adopted an evil way of life and are willing to set my honours at naught by not worshipping the gods, as I have recently heard from some ?” The noble soldier of Christ, putting off the old man and his affairs in accordance with the apostle, donned the new man founded by God’s favour through baptism, and said to him in a brave tone, “Take this honour of yours away from me. For as I see it, as far as debt is concerned, I have reached this position by having conquered the barbarians through my Lord Jesus Christ. Take the things given to me by you, as you said. For naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart for the next world.” And taking off his cloak and releasing his belt, he threw them at the king’s feet, shouting and saying, “I am a Christian and hear you all that I am a Christian.” Then Decius, greatly angered, while at the same time amazed at his outspokenness and astonished by his beauty and greatness, ordered him to be thrown into prison, saying, “This man did not deserve the honour, even if he will not appreciate its loss”, in the hope of changing his righteous belief. While he was being led away to prison, the martyr rejoiced and delighted to glorify God, and that night there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, saying, “Take courage, Mercurius, and do not be afraid. Trust in him whom you have confessed as Lord. For he can release you from every affliction.” And he was strengthened further by the vision of the angel.
8. On the following day, the king seated himself upon the tribunal and ordered him to be set before him and said to him, “Such treatment in this way suits you because of your most wicked resolve.” The martyr said, “This treatment does suit me. For you have received the transient things , but I will receive the everlasting things [of the next world] in their stead.” The king said, “Tell me your race and your homeland.” Mercurius said, “If you want to learn my race and my nativeland, I will tell you”. My father was called Gordianus, a Scythian by race. He served in the unit of the Martenses. My homeland, that towards which I strive, is the heavenly Jerusalem. It is the city of the heavenly king.” The king said, “Were you called this name by you parents, or were you called Mercurius in the army ?” The martyr said, “I was called Mercurius by the tribune in the army. My father called me Philopater.” The king said, “Why do you not obey the commands given to all men, worship the gods, and receive back your former honour ? Or do you prefer rather to die amidst tortures ?” Mercurius said, “As you said, I have come to this [place] in order to defeat you and the devil, the inventor of all evil, and to win the crown of victory from the judge, Jesus Christ the Lord. So do not slow or delay [me], but fulfil upon me whatever occurs to you. For I have the breastplate and shield of faith through which I will conquer every scheme wrought against me.”
9. Then, filled with rage, the king said, “Since you say that you have the breastplate and shield of faith, although you are naked, I order you to be stretched between four stakes and to be suspended about the ground.” When this was done, the king said to him, “Where is your battle-armour ? By Zeus, the greatest of the gods, you have been stretched out !” But saint Mercurius looked up to heaven and said, “Lord Jesus Christ, help your servant.” And, in turn, the king ordered his body to be stabbed with sharp swords and for a fire to be set beneath him in order to burn him for a short period. The fire was put out as a result of the quantity of his blood, and the saint suffered this torture nobly. Decius ordered him to be released, so that he would not die too quickly, and to be locked up securely in a certain dark chamber. So they carried him off and threw him into the chamber barely drawing breath. But an angel of the Lord appeared to him that night, saying, “Peace be with you, noble athlete,” and he restored him to health, healing his body’s wounds, so that he stood up and gave praise to God who had shown himself to him.
10. So Decius again ordered him to be set before him, and when he saw him, he said, “Although you ought to be dead, you are walking about in front of us now of your own agency, and you probably do not have a bruise on your body !” And he ordered his bodyguards to examine him. They said to him, “By your sacred divinity, his body is perfect, without a mark, like someone who has not received a touch.” Decius said, “He can certainly say, “My Christ healed me.” Do not ever bring anyone in to heal him in prison.” They said to him, “By your power which governs the whole civilised world, no-one at all saw him. For we expected that he would die after a short while. How he was restored to health, we do not know.” The king said, “See the magic of the Christians, what type it is ! How was he thought dead beforehand, but has his health now ?” And filled with anger, he said, “Who healed you ? Tell me the whole truth. For I do not believe that you could have been healed without help.” Saint Mercurius said, “As you unwillingly proclaimed, my Lord Jesus Christ himself, the true doctor of bodies and souls, healed me. He forbids sorcerers, charmers, interpreters of omens, and idolaters, and binding them in unbreakable bonds, dismisses them to the fire of hell because they did not acknowledge the true God who made them.” The king said, “I will destroy your body with torture once more and I will see if this Christ of yours whom you name, will heal you.” Saint Mercurius said, “I will trust in my Lord Jesus Christ that howsoever many penalties you inflict me, you will do me no harm at all. For He said “Do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. But fear Him rather who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” He will raise me again after death at the time of His fearful judgement.”
11. And angered, the king ordered burning awls to be applied to his cheeks. When this was done, instead of a stench [of burned flesh], a sweet smell of spices rose from his body towards those standing about. Decius said, “Where is your doctor ? Let him come and heal you now. For you said that “He is able raise me up again even after death.”” Saint Mercurius said, “Do what you will. You have power over my body. But God has power over my soul. The more my body is destroyed, the more my soul remains unharmed.” Again the king ordered him to be hung up upside down and for a very large stone to be suspended about his neck so that, being strangled by the stone, he would surrender his soul during this terrible punishment. The martyr remained in this condition for a long time. The king, seeing that he was nobly enduring the punishments being inflicted upon him and that none of the tortures were affecting him ordered the stone to be released from his neck, and for him to be scourged with a bronze scourge until his blood saturated the ground. Truly unconquerable, he endured all these afflictions giving thanks to God and saying, “Glory to You, O God, that you have counted me worthy to be scourged on account of your name.”
12. The king, recognising that he possessed an unalterable resolve not to be persuaded, formed a decision, and since he was also eager to be back in Rome, imposed a sentence of death by the sword upon him, saying, “My authority orders Mercurius who has set the gods at nought and counted as nothing the revered doctrine of our kindness to be taken to the country of the Cappadocians and his head to be chopped off there as an example to others. For whoever acts against the king will be subjected to punishment by the sword after many tortures, even if honoured and held in high esteem by him.” And those to whom the order had been given took him and led him away, having bandaged the martyr on each side of his person because his body had been torn to pieces by the extremity of the tortures. Arriving at a stopping-place, they gently stowed him away, and rested so. And having travelled the long journey in a few days in this way, they arrived at the city of Caesarea. And appearing to him, the Lord said, “Mercurius, you have guarded the faith and completed your journey. Stop the rest here, and receive the crown of your contest.” And the martyr, having been strengthened by the vision of the Saviour, said to those with him, “Come on, brothers, carry out the rest of your order here. My Lord who wants all men to be saved will even deem you worthy of His grace and will grant you to discover His mercy along with all the just.” And when he had said these things, his head was chopped off. He completed his confession of God our Saviour on 25 November.
13. An incredible miracle occurred which deserves to be remembered. For after his death, the body of the martyr became white like snow and emitted a sweet smell of myrrh and incense. And because of this sign, many believed in Christ. His holy body was buried at the place where he died, and where cures are also worked to the glory of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ, together with the Holy and Lifegiving Spirit, now and for all the ages without end, one after another. Amen.
The Passion of St. Sergius and Bacchus (BHL 7599)
1. When the tyrant Maximianus was emperor great error had seized the race of men; for they worshipped wood and stone, the creations of man, and feasted on impure sacrificial offerings. Moreover those who were unwilling to offer sacrifice were forced by the infliction of violent punishments and penalties to serve the demons. Thus an edict containing the severest threat was publicly posted in every city. Thereupon the clean air was polluted by the diabolic stench from the altars, and the darkness of diabolic error was thought an opportunity to meet friends. Then, like earth-bound stars, Sergius and Bacchus exercised great influence in support of Christianity in the palace, and were honoured by the emperor Maximianus. Indeed blessed Sergius was the primicerius and commander of the schola gentilium, a friend of the emperor and trusted by him so much that he acceded swiftly to his requests.
2. For this reason Antiochus, a friend of Sergius, asked the emperor to make him the dux of the province of Augusto-Euphratensis; blessed Bacchus was a friend of this same man also, and he was secundicerius of the schola gentilium. They were one in the love of Christ, and were never separated from each other in their earthly military service, joined not by their natural temperament but by the chain of faith, always singing and saying, “How good and pleasant it is for brothers to live together” [Psalm 133:1]. They were, therefore, intelligent and happy soldiers of God, perfectly resolved by the divinely inspired scriptures upon the destruction of the devil’s error, and they exercised themselves fully in battle for the destruction of barbarians. Seeing them to converse elegantly in the royal chambers, and to advance in the military service, and to have the emperor’s confidence, some from that same schola gentilium were goaded by the envy of a cruel and evil demon. When they did not *otherwise succeed in ensnaring them in their traps they made the accusation to the emperor that they were Christians.
3. Waiting for a time when blessed Sergius and Bacchus were not present with the emperor, they found him alone and said, “Great indeed is the devotion of your immortal highness to the worship of our great and venerable gods; your instructions on this account have reached everywhere and in every place. In these you have instructed that the guilty, those unwilling to honour and wor- ship them, should be killed by the many punishments prescribed in your fault- less edict. How is it, therefore, that Sergius and Bacchus who enjoy so much confidence in the matter of your eternity’s authority, the leaders of our schola, revere Christ himself, he whom those called Jews crucified and killed as a mischief-maker, and by persuasion draw many others from the worship of the gods, and lead them to their religion ?” Hearing these things, but not believing them, the emperor said, “I do not think that you are telling the truth, because Sergius and Bacchus are not devoted to the honour and worship of God.
4. While I have an unblemished regard for them, they do not deserve to acquire this unless they are devoted and sincere; but if they are of that cult, as you allege, they shall be arrested. And calling them together, ignorant of what has been said, I shall go with them to the shrine of great Jove, and if they offer sacrifice, you will find acting in favour of such lies a cause of danger to you; but if they are unwilling to offer sacrifice, they will suffer the penalty suited to their wickedness. For the gods do not want the attendants of my empire to be impious or ungrateful.” In response the accusers said to the emperor, “Moved by our love and affection for the gods, we have reported to your immortal highness that which we heard about them; it will be the task of your undiluted wisdom to detect their wickedness.” Thus the emperor immediately called them together, and when they had entered with the customary obedience of attendants, taking them with him he entered [the shrine], and offered sacrifice along with his officials. He looked around at these when they were feasting upon the offerings, and he did not see blessed Sergius or blessed Bacchus.
5. For they had not entered into the temple, thinking that it was wicked and unlawful to watch people offering sacrifice and feasting on the impure offerings: they stood outside and prayed, saying as if with one voice, “O King of Kings and Lord of Lords, you who inhabit the inacessible light, enlighten the eyes of the heart of those who live in the darkness of ignorance, who have exchanged your glory, that of the incorruptible God, for the likeness of perishable men, birds, four-legged beasts and serpents, and serve the creature rather than the Creator [Romans 1:23-25]. Convert them, that they may recog- nise you as the only true God, and Our Lord Jesus Christ as your only-born son, who suffered death and rose for us and our salvation, to rescue us from evil and free us from the error of vain idols. Preserve us pure and unstained along the journey of witness to you, that we may be changed in accordance in with your commands.” And while this prayer was still on their lips even, the emperor sent some of his aides who were standing nearby, and ordered that they be brought into the temple.
6. He said to them as they entered, “I see it this way, that trusting in my great clemency and humanity, with which protection the gods have provided you, you are willing on top of this to scorn the imperial edict as law-breakers and enemies of the gods. But I will not uphold the complaints which have made about you unless they are proven. Approaching, so, the altar of great Jove, offer sacrifice and taste the mystical offerings, just as the rest do.” However Sergius and Bacchus, the martyrs and most brave soldiers of Christ, said in response, “We must discharge to you, O emperor, the earthly military service of our bodies; but we have a true king, Jesus Christ eternal in heaven, the Son of God, to whom we devote our souls, he who is our hope and saving refuge. We offer to him everyday a holy and living sacrifice, and reasoned worship; for we do not sacrifice to, or adore, stones and wood. Your gods have ears but they do not hear the prayer of men. They have noses likewise, but they do not smell the sacrifice which is offered to them. They have mouths but they do not talk, hands but they do not touch, and feet but they do not walk. May they and all who trust in them become like thos things which they make” [Psalm 134:18].
7. Thus the emperor was infuriated, his whole face changed, and he ordered that their military belts be immediately removed, that they be stripped of their cloaks and any other military garments, and, at the same time, that their golden collars be removed from about their necks. He dressed them in women’s clothing, and he ordered that they be dragged in this way, with the heaviest chains about their necks, right through the middle of the city as far as the palace. When the holy men were being dragged through the middle of the forum they chanted together, saying, “Although we walk in the shadow of death, we shall fear no evils, since you are with us,” [Psalm 24:5] and the words of the Apostle, “Denying to this extent all wickedness and earthly desire, [Titus 2:12] and having removed the clothing of the old-man, [Colossians 3:9] let us rejoice naked in our faith in you, O Lord, because you have clothed us in the garment of salvation, and you have wrapped us in the tunic of joy. You have adorned us in women’s clothes, like a spouse, unite us to you through our con- fession [Isaiah 61:10]. You, O Lord, have put your trust in us, saying, “You will be led before kings and governors on my account, and when they hand you over [to trial] do not worry how you will sound or what you will say. You will be given what to say at that hour. For they will not be your words which you are speaking, but words from the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” [Matthew 10: 19-20].
8. Rise, Christ, help us, and fight off our attackers, comfort our souls, that we may not be moved, and the wicked may cry, “Where is their God ?” [Psalm 118:9-10].” When they came to the palace the emperor called the saints and said, “O most wicked of all men, do you think that you can trust in the friendship which you had with me, and reply in such an unpermissible manner ? Why do you blaspheme against the gods through whom the human race enjoys great peace ? Do you not know that he whom you call Christ was the son of a car- penter, and that his mother conceived of him by an act of adultery before the marriage was legalised ? He whom the Jews also crucified because he caused disturbances and riots among them, deceiving with his magic skills and calling himself God. The most great family of our gods was conceived of the legitimate marriage of Jove. The great gods Jupiter and Saturn are mentioned with respect because of their connection with the blessed Juno. But I suppose that you have heard of the twelve great heroic labours.”
9. But the most brave soldiers of Christ said in response, “You are wrong, emperor; for these are fables which deceive the ears of simple men, and lead them to perdition. He whom you say to have been the son of a carpenter by an act of adultery, he is the son of the true God, with whom and through whom he made all things, spread-out the heavens, founded the earth, restrained the abyss and the great sea unfettered by sand, adorned heaven with a multitude of stars, created the sun for lighting-up the day, and the moon for comfort dur- ing the night, separated darkness and light, and fixed the length of the day and the end of the night. He has produced everything from nothing, as he allows. For he has made all things in wisdom, just like God. Moreover in the last days he was born on earth for the salvation of man, not by the will of a man, nor by physical pleasure, but by the Holy Spirit and an ever-virgin girl. And he mingled with men, teaching us to desert those vain idols, and to recog- nise him and that he shared in the true God.
10. Although the Jews killed him according to the flesh, he plundered the lower world and rose on the third day by his divine nature, and established the law of incorruptibility and the resurrection of the dead.” When the emperor heard these things he was filled with fury, and ordered their accusers to be conscripted into the army in their place, and said to them, “I am send- ing you to the dux Antiochus, you accursed men, because of the friendship and the trust which you enjoyed from me, and because you raised him to that rank; that you may realise from what honour you have fallen, and how little your discernment as a result of which you have to bear the ultimate punishment for the blasphemy which you dared to commit against the gods.” When he had said these things he sent them to the dux Antiochus, and ordered them, their whole bodies bound with heavy chains, to be conducted to the regions of the East by the officials of the individual cities
11. Moreover he also wrote a letter as follows: “The emperor Maximianus, pious and victorious, sends his greetings to the dux Antiochus. The most great providence of the gods desires that no man, least of all the guardians of my empire, be impious and unacquainted with them, and accordingly I have judged deserving of the ultimate penalties Sergius and Bacchus who have been con- victed by their own confession of the impious religion of the Christians. These, who did not think the questions of the imperial judges worthy [of reply], I have sent to your authority, so that if they repent and offer sacrifice before the gods, you will grant them pardon and send them back to me without tortures. For then they will receive back their military rank, better rank even than that which they held now beforehand. However if they are absolutely unwilling to do these things, but persist in their wickedness, do not delay in subjecting them to the severity of the law, and destroy their hopes of a long life. Farewell.” The day itself being late they took them as far as the twelfth milestone from the city, and they remained in a stable under great supervision and guard.
12. About midnight an angel of the Lord came and said to them, “Have con- fidence and fight against the spirit of the devil, like most brave soldiers and athletes, in order that by your struggling you may cast him beneath your feet, and that when you come to see Christ, the king of glory, we may meet you with a multitudinous army of angels, singing the praise of your victory, bearing to you the palms of your perfect faith and the crowns of your confession.” Thus when it was dawn, rejoicing with every gladness, they began walking along the road. There were with them certain of their servants who, because of their love of Christian piety and their care for the physical well-being of their masters, were unwilling to leave them in such need. They heard about the visit of the angel which [their masters] saw that night and repeated the story to each other in turn. As they walked they both sang psalms together, and prayed as in with one voice, saying, “We have been attracted along a journey of wit- ness to you, and we shall be occupied upon your commands as if upon every treasure, and we have meditated upon your ways. We shall reflect upon your righteousness, Christ, grant your servants that we may live and preserve [your teachings]” [Psalm 118:14, 17].
13. Thus, in accordance with the emperor’s command, the soldiers of Christ were despatched with every guard through all the cities, in consequence of the life of the martyr which had been laid before them, until they were brought to the province of Augusto-Euphratensis, to soldiers in a fort by the name of Barbalissus which borders the tribe of the Saracens, in which fort Antiochus held his seat. They surrendered them to him, along with the emperor’s letter, about the ninth hour. Antiochus rose from his seat, and in his purple cloak accepted the emperor’s letter which he read silently to himself. He called his staff commentariensis and said to him, “Take these men who have been sent here and place them in military custody, without the usual ill-treatment. Set their feet in stocks; but on the following day bring them to court that I may hear them in accordance with the laws.” The commentariensis, just as he was instructed, took them and set them in stocks.
14. Late that night they sang psalms together, and prayed as if with one voice, both saying, “O Lord, you who crushed the heads of the great serpent, who have dried rivers, caused springs and floods to burst forth, you who have made the ends of the earth; look down upon us, Lord Our God, since the enemy has abused us on account of your name. Do not surrender the lives of men who trust in you to these men who are more savage than wild beasts even. Do not leave neglected to their end the lives of wretched men. Remember your covenant, for the lands have been filled and darkened with houses of wickedness. Let us not return in shame, wretched and distressed, to praise your name [Psalm 123: 13-21].
15. Do not neglect the voices of those who beseech you, since the pride of those who hate you always rises to your notice; men hate us for no reason, but you, O Lord, help us and free us for your name’s sake.” When the saints said these things they fell silent, and an angel of the Lord came and said to them, “Have confidence and remain steadfast in your faith and confession, since Our Lord Jesus Christ is with you.” They rose from their sleep and told to their servants the angel’s revelation, and took confidence. Moreover they began to sing psalms as follows, “We cried out to the Lord when we were troubled, and he heard us from his holy mountain. We laid down and slept, and rose again since the Lord guarded us. We will not fear the thousands of people who bes- iege us. Rise, Lord, save us, Our God, since you are our salvation, and hoping in you also we give you praise” [Psalm 119:1, 3:6-7].
16. When morning came the dux took his seat in the praetorium, called the commentariensis and said to him, “Let the prisoners enter”. The commentariensis replied, “They are present in your might’s court.” He read the emperor’s let- ter to the saints as they stood there. When this had been done the dux Antiochus, having been induced by his counsellor to soften somewhat, said, “You should have always fulfilled the emperor’s commands and sacrificed to the gods, in order to have his gratitude; since, for what reason I do not know, you were absolutely unwilling to do this, and have fallen from such glory, sacrifice to the gods now, knowing that if you do this you will have greater honour and glory among men than previously, and you will receive back your military rank with its trappings multiplied. For your emperor, humane by nature, has promised you that if you repent of your previous actions and sacrifice to the gods, all these things will be restored to you. Mindful of your friendship and of the favours which I had from you especially, my lord Sergius, I advise you to do this. But if you absolutely refuse to do this I must carry out to their strict letter the commands of the emperor.”
17. In response to this the saints said, “We have left everything and followed Christ in order to serve among the angels, despising earthly military service, and to possess the heavenly treasures, tossing aside the earth’s wealth. For what would it profit us if we gain the world but lose our souls ? So do not give us such advice, Antiochus; your tongue speaks deceit, and your lips con- ceal the venom of a viper. But your talk which urges us to perdition does not touch our souls. Do what you will; for we do not worship wood and stone, but Christ, the Son of God, the eternal king, to whom bends every knee of heaven, earth and the underworld; and every tongue confesses to him. For your gods are not gods but man-made idols. For if they were gods they would make men sacrifice to them, and would not rely on human foresight to be avenged upon those who are unwilling to adore them and offer them sacrifice.”
18. The dux, Antiochus, replied, “We do not avenge the gods; but throught their foresight our enemies’ every strength is subjected to us; but we accuse you because your’s is an unholy and impure worship.” But the holy martyrs responded and said to him, “You are the impure and unholy, and those who fol- low you and sacrifice to demons and adore wooden objects which are hurled into the fire a little while afterwards.” Then, greatly angered, the dux Antiochus ordered that blessed Sergius be taken back into custody again, but that blessed Bacchus be stretched out and beaten with heavy clubs until those that were beating him fell exhausted upon the ground. But when these were tired out by their work he ordered others to ?????? the holy martyr and beat his stomach again, and he himself said, “Let us see if Christ can help, he whom you call God.” When the saint’s body had been beaten for a long time, and blood was flowing all about, the martyr Bacchus said to Antiochus, “Satan’s servants have wearied of their beating, your wickededness has failed. The tyrant Maxi- mianus has been defeated, and so has your father the devil. To the extent that that which is external, my body, is destroyed, the being within is renewed for future life.”
19. As he said this a voice descended from heaven, saying, “Come now to the kingdom which has been prepared for you, my athlete Bacchus.” Hearing this voice those who stood about were amazed and struck speechless, and when the saint was being killed he surrendered his soul into the hands of angels. In his anger Antiochus ordered that his body was not be buried, but was to be thrown out for the dogs, wild-animals and birds. When his body was thrown out a long way from the camp there gathered a crowd of beasts who surrounded it; but birds hovering above did not permit the cruel beasts to touch it. And they continued guarding him until night-time. When it was evening some of the brothers who lived in caves there came down and took the body. They were allowed to do by the animals, as if by intelligent human-beings, and they buried him in one of their caves. But blessed Sergius, who was greatly sad- dened and distressed, was left alone and cried as he wept, “Alas for me, my brother and messmate Bacchus, never will we sing together saying, “How good and pleasant it is for brothers to live together.” Ascending into heaven you have been separated from me, and I have been left alone upon the earth.”
20. When he had said these things there appeared to him that same night blessed Bacchus, dressed in military garb with his face shining like that of an angel, and he said to him, “Why are you sad and distressed, brother ? Even though I am not physically present with you, I am with you in the chain of faith, singing and saying, “I hastened along the way of your commands when you broadened my heart.” So hurry to reach me, brother, by a good and whole con- fession, guarding your faith and achieving your end. For righteousness and a crown have been laid aside for you with me.” Therefore, rising at dawn, he described to those who were with him the garb in which he had seen blessed Bachus that night. In this way the dux, being about to leave Barbarissus for Sura, ordered that blessed Sergius follow him also, and besought him to offer sacrifice. But rejecting his enticements he made his journey in silence.
21. When they reached Sura Antiochus took his seat in front of the tribunal in the praetorium, called blessed Sergius to him and said, “The most impious Bacchus, unwilling to obey and offer sacrifice to the gods, chose to be deprived of his life, and got the death he deserved. But you, my lord Sergius, why have you surrendered yourself to such great misery by following this seductive and wicked religion ? I respect you, remembering your favours, and I thank you that you provided me with this command. And now you are the accused, questioned in detail, but I sit on the judge’s bench.” But Christ’s martyr Sergius said in response, “This affliction and temporary disturbance earn for me great trust and eternal glory in the house of the king of heaven and earth and every soul, Jesus Christ the Son of God. Would that you would hear me now also, and recognise God and my king Christ, and take thought for yourself, that eternal office and immortal glory might be presented to you, for just as it is with the earthly and mortal emperor, so also it is with Christ the heavenly and eternal king.
22. For the leaders of the earth fall swiftly, as the psalmist said, “Just as men you will die, so also each of you princes will fall.” And again, “I saw a wicked man exalted and raised as high as the cedars of Lebanon. I sought him, and his place was not found.” The dux Antiochus said, “Leave behind this empty and disordered nonsense and sacrifice to the gods, and be obedient to the wor- thy commands of our emperor Maximianus. But if you are unwilling to sacrifice, know that you are forcing me to forget everything which you gave to me, and to subject you to most severe legal penalties.” Thereupon blessed Sergius said, “Do what you will; for I have Christ helping me, he who said, “Do not fear those who kill the body; for they are not able to kill the soul. Rather fear him who is able to delver to perdition in hell body and soul. Thus my body is subject to you; punish and afflict it as much as you want, in the knowledge that even if you destroy my body, you cannot have power over my soul, neither you nor your father Satan.”
23. Angered by this the dux said, “It seems that my humaneness has made you bolder and more insolent.” Thus he called his adjutant and said, “Dress him quickly in boots pierced with nails, with the nails left upright.” When he was so dressed Antiochus, sitting in his carriage, ordered him to run before him, instrucing that the horses be driven swiftly as far as the fort Tetrapyrgia. This fort is nine miles distant from Syrus. As he ran he prayed the psalms, saying, “I have awaited the Lord in expectation, and he has looked down upon me and led me forth from the lake of pagan misery and the mud of filthy idolatry, and has set my feet upon the rock of confession.” When they reached the fort of Tetrapyrgia the dux Antiochus said, “I am amazed at you, Sergius, that having being interrogated in so great a court you have been able now to endure such great punishments.” But the holy martyr of Christ said in response, “Your punishments are not bitter to me, but sweeeter than honey from the comb.” Descending from his carriage the dux entered the praetorium, order- ing that the martyr of Christ be placed in military custody.
24. When it was evening blessed Sergius began to sing, saying, “Those who used to eat my bread at one time have increased their trampling upon me, and by the cords of their most severe penalties have laid a snare for my feet, wishing to trip me up. But rise, Lord, obstruct and overthrow them, and free my soul from the wicked.” Around midnight an angel of the Lord came and restored his feet to health for him. Thus when it was dawn, sitting before the tribunal, the dux ordered that he be led forth, thinking that he would not be able to come as a result of the pain, except perhaps if he were carried. When he was being led forward the dux, seeing from a distance that he was walking, and that he had no limp at all, was terrified and said, ” This man is a magician; it was in this way that he had such great influence over the emperor, acquiring it by his magic skills, and the things witnessed here are evidence of those allega- tions. I thought that he would not have been at all able to walk on his feet seeing that they had been made useless for this as a result of yesterday’s punishment. I am amazed, by the gods, at how he now approaches as if he had suffered nothing.”
25. Thus, when blessed Sergius stood before the tribunal, Antiochus said, “Wretch, think about it for the final time once more, and sacrifice to the gods and save yourself from the forthcoming punishments. For I spare you because I am mindful of your favours. But if you do not offer sacrifice, know that your magic by which you thought you could be saved will avail you nothing.” But blessed Sergius said in reply, “Would that you would recover your senses from the drunkenness of demonic error ! For I am sober in the Lord, he who ground the arms of your father the devil beneath the feet of his humble servant, who has granted me victory against you, who has sent his angel to me and healed me. But you are the real magician, you and those who worship demons. For the unspeakable worship of demons is the mother of all impiety. That is the beginning, cause and end of every evil.” Further exasperated Antiochus took his seat again in the carriage, and ordered him, wearing the same boots, to run before him as far as the fort of Resapha, nine-miles dis- tant from Tetrapyrgia.
26. When they had reached the fort of Resapha, the dux Antiochus said to blessed Sergius, “Most wretched one, has the punishment of the nails chased away your urge for foolishness, that you may at last submit to to sacrifice to the gods, or do you persist in that urge which has preoccupied you ?” The most brave martyr of Christ said in response, “Let it be known to you, Antiochus, that it is through this folly that I continue to destroy your strength and that of your father the devil. Do what you want, so; for I do not worship demons, nor offer sacrifice to idols, but I hurry to offer the unstained sacrifice of myself to my Lord God.” Thus Antiochus, seeing that he was per- sisting fixed and unmoveable in his faith and confession of Christ, passed the following sentence against him, “Sergius, who has shown himself unworthy of the piety of the gods, who has joined himself to the most impious sect of those who are called Christians, and has offended against the great fortune of the emperor Maximianus, in that he was unwilling to be obedient to his venerable edicts to sacrifice to the gods, this man the laws command to be put to the sword.” Thereupon some of those present hailed as just the penalty which had been passed against him. Thus the deputies came, gagged him, and led him from their midst to a remote spot in order to perish by the sword.
27. Then a great crowd of men and women followed him in order to see the death of the blessed martyr. When they saw the freshness of his face and his great youth they wept most bitterly, sighing over him. Even the beasts of that region, leaving their dens, all gathered together. Attacking no-one, and touched by their cries, they reflected upon the death of the holy martyr. When they were drawing near to the place in which the martyr of Christ, Sergius, was about to be killed, he asked the guards to provide him with a little time to pray. Stretching out his hands to heaven he said, “The beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, recognising your lordship and rule, have gathered for the glory of your holy name, that by their confession they might turn the mind of intelligent men to you, you who by the nod of your goodness and will desire that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Suspending their death, and awaiting their repentance, heed not, Lord, their sinful ignorance which they directed against me on account of your name.
28. Enlighten the eyes of their hearts and lead them to recognition of you. Finally, take my soul and lay it to rest in your heavenly tents with those of this age who have pleased you. For I entrust my soul to you, since you have rescued me from the snare of the devil.” Thereupon, when he had said these things, he made the sign of the cross, and knelt down. He was beheaded and surrendered his soul to the angels. Moreover a voice was heard from heaven, saying, “Sergius, my soldier and athlete, enter into the kingdom which has been prepared for you. For the ranks of angels, the numerous patriarchs, the unions of Apostles and prophets, and the spirits of the just await you that you might learn with them the good things which have been prepared for you.” Moreover the place in which the life of the holy martyr was taken was split and formed a great abyss, God so arranging, so that those who wallow in filth like pigs would not dare, because of their fear of the abyss, to draw near and trample upon the blood of the holy martyr in that very place. For this reason was that great void created, and that place has remained so right until the present day, preserving signs of the will of God of old, that a firm founda- tion for faith may be laid in [the hearts of] those who do not believe by the existence of this special miracle.
29. Thereafter some of those who had gathered to see the death of the holy martyr, noticing the natural safety of the place, gathered up his corpse, and covering it as best they could, laid him to rest in the same place in which he had also suffered. Thus a long time afterwards some religious men, coming from the fort of Syra and fired by a zeal for Christ, began to remove him from his place like some most precious treasure. But saint Sergius did not permit his body to be secretly removed, the body which had suffered punishment publicly, but besought God to rouse a fire in that same place, not to be avenged upon those who were trying to steal his corpse, nor to burn them, but to light up the darkness of the night and signal this theft to the fort of Resapha. Thus, when a fire had been roused in the place where the body lay, some of the inhabitants of the camp saw the flame reaching to the heavens, thought that the very great fire had been caused by some enemies, and sallied forth armed. They pursued those who tried to steal the corpse of the holy martyr; but in response to the requests of the thieves they allowed them to stay there for a few days; these, making a building from stone and clay in the place where the body lay, and covering it over in honour of the martyr, departed thus.
30. The worship of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ gradually prospered, and 15 most holy bishops, gathering as one, built beside Resapha a cemetery worthy of his confession. They translated to there the body of the holy martyr, and deposited it in its martyrion on the same day that he had suffered, 17 October. Many saving-works and miracles are performed wherever his holy relics have been, especially at his grave where he had previously lain. The holy martyr beseeches God as an endowment of the place where he suffered that all who flock there should be cured of their differing ailments. He cures those who are possessed by unclean spirits; and the wild beasts are tamed also. For the beasts preserve the day on which he suffered as an annual holiday, and gathering from the wild which is all about and mingling with men, none at all attack, nor do they rush to the harm of the other gathering animals. Rather, honouring the martyr of Christ, they persist in gentleness at that place in accordance with the command of the Lord, whose is the honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Passion of SS. Serge and Bacchus
Translated by John Boswell from the Greek “Passio antiquior SS. Sergii et Bacchi Graece nunc primum edita,” AB 14 (Brussels, 1895), 373-395. This text is apparently the Greek original of the Latin passion beginning “Imperante Maximiano tyranne, multus error hominum genus possederat,” printed in the Acta sanctorum, October 7, 865-79, and is more ancient than the more common account of “Metaphrastes.”
Under the rule of the emperor Maximian gross superstition held sway over the human race, for people worshiped and made sacrifices to stones and wood, the devices of human beings, and they consumed obscene offerings. Those unwilling to sacrifice were subjected to torture and harsh punishment and compelled to serve the demons. A decree [to this effect] with severe threats was posted in the markets of every city. The purity of the air was defiled with the diabolical smell from the altars and the darkness of idolatrous error was reckoned a matter of state.
It was then that Serge and Bacchus, like stars shining joyously over the earth, radiating the light of confession of and faith in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, began to grace the palace, honored by the emperor Maximian. The blessed Serge was the primicerius of the school of the Gentiles, a friend of the emperor and who had great familiarity with him, so that Maximian promptly acceded to his requests. Thus the blessed Serge, having a certain friend Antiochus, was able to arrange for him to become the governor of the province of Augusto-Euphrates.
The blessed Bacchus himself happened to be the secundarius of the school of the Gentiles. Being as one in their love for Christ, they were also undivided from each other in the army of the world, united not by the way of nature, but in the manner of faith, always singing and saying, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” They were adept and excellent soldiers of Christ, cultivating assiduously the inspired writings to combat diabolical error, and fighting vigorously in battle to defeat the enemy.
But the malicious and evil spirit afflicted with envy some of those who had been brought to the school of the Gentiles, and they, seeing [the saints] so honorably received in the imperial chambers, so advanced in military rank, and on such familiar terms with the emperor, and being unable to bring any other instrument of malice against them, accused them to the emperor of being Christians.
Waiting for a moment when the saints would not be standing near the emperor, and finding him alone, they said to him, “Such zeal for the cult of the holiest and greatest gods has your immortal majesty that in those holy rescripts of yours which are everywhere disseminated you have commanded that all unwilling to honor and worship them, and in submission to your righteous doctrine, should perish in great torment. How is it then that Serge and Bacchus, the directors of our school, enjoy such familiarity with your eternal power, when they worship Christ, whom those called Jews executed, crucifying him as a criminal; and by persuading many others they draw them away from the worship of the gods?”
When he heard this the emperor refused to believe it and said, “I do not think you speak the truth that Serge and Bacchus are not devoted to the veneration and worship of the gods, since I have such a pure affection for them, and they would hardly be worthy of it it they were not truly faithful in their piety toward the gods. But if, as you say, they belong to that unholy religion, they shall now be exposed. Once I have summoned them without their knowing of the charges that have been brought against them, I will go with them into the temple of mighty Zeus, and if they sacrifice and eat of the holy offerings, you yourselves shall bear the risk of the slander of which you are guilty. If they refuse to sacrifice, they shall incur the penalty appropriate for their impiety. For the gods would not have the shield-bearers of my empire be impious and ungrateful.”
“We, O Emperor,” replied the accusers, “moved by zeal and affection for the gods, have brought before your undying majesty what we have heard regarding them. It is for your unfailing wisdom to discover their impiety.”
Straightaway the emperor sent for them. They entered with the customary retinue of guards and imperial pomp. The emperor received them and went in their company to the temple of Zeus. Once he had entered, Maximian offered libations with the whole army, partook of the sacrificial offerings, and looked around. He did not see the blessed Serge and Bacchus. They had not gone into the temple, because they thought it impious and unholy to see them offering and consuming unclean sacrifices. They stood outside and prayed as with one mouth, saying, “King of Kings and Lord of lords, who alone possess immortality and inhabit unapproachable light, shed light on the eyes of their minds, because they walk in the darkness of their unknowing; they have exchanged your glory, uncorruptible God, for the likeness of corruptible men and birds and beasts and snakes; and they worship the created rather than you, the creator. Turn them to knowledge of you, that they may know you, the one true God, and your only-begotten Son, our Lord ]esus Christ, who for us and for our salvation suffered and rose from the dead, that he might free us from the bonds of the law and rescue us from the folly of vain idols. Preserve us, God, pure and spotless in the path of your martyrs, walking in your commandments.”
While this prayer was yet in their mouths, the emperor sent some of the guard standing near him and commanded them to be brought into the temple. When they had entered, the emperor said to them, “It appears that, counting on my great friendship and kindnessÑfor which the gods have been your defenders and advocates Ñ you have seen fit to disdain imperial law and to become deserters and enemies of the gods. But I will not spare you if indeed those things spoken of you prove to be true. Go, then, to the altar of mighty Zeus, make sacrifice and consume, like everyone else, the mystical offerings.”
In reply the noble soldiers of Christ, the martyrs Serge and Bacchus, answered: “We, O Emperor, are obliged to render to you earthly service of this corporal body; but we have a true and eternal king in heaven, Jesus the Son of God, who is the commander of our souls, our hope and our refuge of salvation. To him every day we offer a holy, living sacrifice, our thoughtful worship. We do not sacrifice to stones or wood, nor do we bow to them. Your gods have ears, but they do not hear the prayers of humans; just as they have noses but do not smell the sacrifice brought them, have mouths but do not speak, hands but do not feel, feet but do not walk. ‘They that make them,’ as the Scripture says, ‘are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them because Thou are with us.”’
The emperor’s countenance was transformed with anger; immediately he ordered their belts cut off, their tunics and all other military garb removed, the gold torcs taken from around their necks, and women’s clothing placed on them; thus they were to be paraded through the middle of the city to the palace, bearing heavy chains around their necks. But when they were led into the middle of the marketplace the saints sang and chanted together, “Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, Lord”; and this apostolic saying: “Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and putting off the form of the old man, naked in faith we rejoice in you, Lord, because you have clothed us with the garment of salvation, and have covered us with the robe of righteousness; as brides you have decked us with women’s gowns and joined us together for you [or: “joined us to you”] through our confession. You, Lord, commanded us, saying, ‘Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake…. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.’ Rise, Lord, help us and rescue us for your name’s sake; strengthen our souls that we may not be separated from you and the impious may not say, ‘Where is their God?’ “
When they reached the palace Maximian summoned them and said, “Most wicked of all men, so much for the friendship which I had bestowed on you, thinking you to have proper respect for the gods, and which you, confident of my openness and affection, have despised, brazenly offering me in return that which is against the law of obedience and subjection. But why should you blaspheme the gods as well, through whom the human race enjoys such abundant peace? Do you not realize that the Christ whom you worship was the son of a carpenter, born out of wedlock of an adulterous mother, whom those called Jews executed by crucifixion, because he had become the cause of dissensions and numerous troubles among them, leading them into error with magic and claiming to be a god? The very great race of our gods were all born of legal marriage, of the most high Zeus, who is thought to be the most holy, giving birth through his marriage and union with the blessed Hera. I imagine that you will have also heard that the heroic and twelve greatest labors were worthy of a god, those of heavenly Hercules, born of Zeus.”
The noble soldiers of Christ answered, “Your majesty is mistaken. These are myths that ring in the ears of the simpler men and lead them to destruction. He whom you say to have been born of adultery as the son of a carpenter, he is God, the son of the True God, with and through whom was all made. He established the heavens, he made the earth, the abyss and the great sea he bounded with sand, he adorned the heavens with the multitude of stars, the sun he invented for the illumination of the day and as a torch in the night he devised the moon. He divided the darkness from the light, he imposed measure on the day and limits on the night, in wisdom he brought forth all things from nonbeing to being. In these last days he was born upon the earth for the salvation of humankind, not from the desire of a man, nor the desire of the flesh, but from the Holy Spirit and an ever-virgin girl, and living among humans he taught us to turn from the error of vain idols and to know him and his father. He is true God of true God, and in accord with an unknowable plan he died for the salvation of the human race, but he plundered hell and rose on the third day in the power of his divinity, and he established incorruptibility and the resurrection of the dead to eternal life.”
Beside himself with rage on hearing these things, the emperor ordered that their accusers be enrolled in their positions in the army and said to them, “I am sending you to Duke Antiochus, thrice-cursed ones Ñ the very man you were able to promote to such rank because of the friendship and familiarity you had with me Ñ so that you will realize how great is the honor you have lost by speaking against the gods and how trivial a court you merit for the worst punishments, since the greatness of the gods has apprehended and brought your blasphemy to the judgment seat for justice.”
Immediately he sent them to Duke Antiochus, ordering that their entire bodies be bound with heavy chains, and that they be sent thus to Eastern parts through a succession of officials. He also wrote a letter along these lines: “From Maximian, eternal emperor and triumphant ruler of all, greetings to Duke Antiochus. The wisdom of the greatest gods is unwilling that any men should be impious and hostile to their worship, especially shield and spear-bearers of our empire. Wherefore I commend to your severity the vile Serge and Bacchus, convicted with apposite proof of belonging to the unholy sect of the Christians and plainly deserving of the worst punishment, whom I consider unworthy of the administration of imperial justice. If they should be persuaded by you to change their minds and sacrifice to the gods, then treat them with their own innate humanity, free them from the prescribed torments and punishments, assure them of our forgiving kindness and that they will receive back immediately their appropriate military rank and be better off now than they were before. But if they will not be persuaded and persist in their unholy religion, subject them to the severest penalties of the law and remove from them hope of long life with the penalty of the sword. Farewell.”
The same day the offficials took them out of the city as far as the twelfth mark, and when evening overtook them they stopped at an inn. About midnight an angel of the Lord appeared and said to [the saints], “Take courage and fight against the devil and his evil spirits, as noble soldiers and athletes of Christ, and once you have thrown the enemy put him under your feet so that when you appear before the king of glory we, the host of the army of angels, may come to greet you singing the hymn of victory, conferring on you the trophies of triumph and the crowns of perfect faith and unity.
When morning came they rose and took the road with great joy and alacrity. There were also some of their household servants with them, united with them in longing for the love of Christ, and in true love for their corporal masters, on account of which they would not leave them when they were in such straits. They heard them discussing with each other the appearance of the angel in the night.
Taking the road, the two chanted psalms together and prayed as if with one mouth, thus, “We have rejoiced in the way of martyrdom, as much as in all riches. We will meditate in thy precepts and search out thy ways. We will delight ourselves in thy statutes: we will not forget thy word. Deal bountifully with thy servants, that we may live and keep thy word.”
As the emperor had commanded, the soldiers of Christ were sent from city to city through a succession of changing officials with great security along the road of martyrdom laid down for them, until they were brought to the eparchy of Augusto-Euphrates, which was on the borders next to the people of the Saracens, to a certain fortress called Barbalisus where Duke Antiochus had his seat.
Appearing promptly before him around the ninth hour, their custodians handed over the emperor’s letter and also the holy martyrs Serge and Bacchus. Antiochus rose from his dais and accepted the emperor’s rescript in his purple general’s cloak; when he had read it he summoned privately the official in charge and told him, “Take the prisoners and secure them in the military prison, seeing that apart from the usual constraints they do not suffer anything, and do not place their feet in full manacles of wood. Bring them to the bench of my justice tomorrow, so that I can hear them at the prescribed time, according to the law.” The official took them and bound them as the duke had commanded him. When it was evening, they sang together and prayed, as with one mouth, speaking thus: “Thou, Lord, brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters; thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood; thou hast set all the borders of the earth. Cast thine eye upon us, O Lord, for the enemy hath reproached us, and the foolish people have blasphemed thy holy name. Deliver not the souls of those confessing thee to men more savage than beasts, forget not the congregation of thy poor forever. Have respect unto thy covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty. Let us not be returned humbled, ashamed: so that we, thy humble servants, may praise thy name. Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the pride of them that hate thee ascendeth continually against us, thy servants, and in vain have the people hated us. But do thou, O Lord, rescue us and free us for thy name’s sake.”
Then, while they slept for a while, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and said, “Take heart, stand fast and unmovable in your faith and love. It is God who aids and watches over you.”
Rising from their sleep and reporting to their household the apparition of the angel, they were encouraged and began to chant again: “ln my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me from his holy mountain. I laid me down and slept; for the Lord sustained me. We will not be afraid of thou sands of people, that have set themselves against us round about. Arise, Lord, and save us, O our God: for salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people.”
On the following day, when the duke was seated on the bench of justice in the praetorium, he summoned the commentarius and said, “Bring in the prisoners.” The latter responded, “They are at hand before the righteous bench of your authority.” When the saints appeared, he commanded the emperor’s letter to be read. Once this was done, Duke Antiochus, prompted by his associate, announced, “It is incumbent on you to obey the orders of the glorious emperor, our lord, and to sacrifice to the gods and become worthy of their benevolence. Since you were unwilling to do this, you have forfeited great glory, and having made yourselves unworthy, were discharged from the military and deprived of all your former wealth. Nonetheless, if you will now obey me and sacrifice to the gods to earn their goodwill, you could earn even greater honor and glory than before, and receive back your military rank and more besides.
“This was prescribed in the letter sent to me, as you yourselves have heard. Being humane, the most holy emperor has disposed that if you repent of those things you have rashly done, and now sacrifice to the gods, you may yet enjoy his favor. Wherefore I, feeling compassion for you, and mindful of your friendship and kindnessÑespecially yours, my Lord Serge, for I myself have benefited from your generosityÑadvise you that if you will not do this, you force me to obey our lord the emperor and to see that his orders concerning you are strictly observed.”
In reply the saints declared, “We have left all and followed Christ, so that heedless of earthly and temporal honor, we may become rivals of the angels in heaven, and ignoring terrestrial and corruptible wealth, we may heap up treasure in heaven. What profit would it be if we gained the whole world, but lost our souls? Do not, therefore, so advise us, Antiochus. For your tongue is forked, and the poison of adders is under your lips. You will hardly be able to change our minds while God himself encourages us. Do, therefore, what you will; we will not sacrifice to wood, nor worship stones. We serve Christ, the son of God, the eternal ruler, before whom ‘every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth,’ and whom every tongue should confess. Your gods are man-made idols: if they were divine, they themselves would command humans, and would not [need to] be avenged through human design on those who decline to serve and worship them.”
The duke rejoined, “We do not avenge the gods. It is through their disposition that all the powers of our enemies have been subjected to us. But we call you to justice because of your accursed and unholy superstition.”
To which the saints responded, “It is you who are accursed and unholy, and all those persuaded by you to sacrifice to demons and worship insensate stones and wood. All of them will soon be cast eternally into flames, and you also will be punished with them.”
In a great rage the duke commandel that the blessed Serge be taken from the praetorium and returned to prison; the blessed Bacchus he ordered held for flogging. The henchmen went at this until they collapsed exhausted and near dead on the floor. When they could go on no longer, he directed that [Bacchus] be turned over on his stomach to be beaten with four whips of rawhide, saying to him, “Let’s see if your Christ will free you from my hands.” From the first hour until evening they wore away his flesh; blood flowed everywhere; both his stomach and liver were ruptured.
The blessed Bacchus said to Antiochus: “The devil’s servants, your torturers have failed; your impudence is overthrown; the tyrant Maximian is conquered; your father the devil has been put to shame. The more the man without is ravaged by your blows, the more the man within is renewed in preparation for the eternal life to come.”
After he said this, there was a great voice from heaven: “Come, rest henceforth in the kingdom prepared for you, my noble athlete and soldier, Bacchus.” Those standing by hearing the voice were stupefied and struck dumb. He himself, having borne the blows so long, gave up his spirit to the angels.
The duke, frustrated by his defeat, ordered that his remains not be buried, but thrown out and exposed as meat to the dogs, beasts, and birds outside the camp. Then he rose and left. When the body was tossed some distance from the camp, a crowd of animals gathered around it. The birds flying above would not allow the bloodthirsty beasts to touch it, and kept guard through out the night.
In the morning, some of the monks who lived nearby in caves came and liked up the body the animals Ñ as if they were rational human beings Ñ had been mourning. They buried him in one of their caves.
Meanwhile the blessed Serge, deeply depressed and heartsick over the loss of Bacchus, wept and cried out, “No longer, brother and fellow soldier, will we chant together, ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’ You have been unyoked from me and gone up to heaven, leaving me alone on earth, bereft [literally, “made single”], without comfort.” After he uttered these things, the same night the blessed Bacchus suddenly appeared to him with a face as radiant as an angel’s, wearing an officer’s uniform, and spoke to him. “Why do you grieve and mourn, brother? If I have been taken from you in body, I am still with you in the bond of union, chanting and reciting, ‘I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou hast enlarged my heart.’ Hurry then, yourself, brother, through beautiful and perfect confession to pursue and obtain me, when finishing the course. For the crown of justice for me is with you.” At daybreak when he rose he related to those who were with him how he had seen the blessed Bacchus in the night and in what sort of garb.
The next day the duke planned to go out of the fortress of Barbalisus to that of Souros, and commanded that the blessed Serge follow. He enjoined him to sacrifice, but the latter, with noble judgment, refused his blandishments. When they reached the castle of Souros, Antiochus took his seat in the praetorium, summoned the blessed Serge, and told him, “The most sacrilegious Bacchus refused to sacrifice to the gods and chose to die violently; he got the death he deserved. But you, my lord Serge, why give yourself over to such misery by following that deceptive and impious cult. Mindful of your kindness to me I am disposed to mercy; and it embarrasses me that you were the cause of my having obtained this authority, since now you stand in the dock as the accused, and I sit on the bench as the prosecutor.”
To this Christ’s witness answered, “Antiochus, this very suffering and present disgrace will stand as a patron for me of great eloquence and eternal glory with the king of heaven and of earth and of every living thing, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If only you would now heed me and recognize my God and king, Christ, and be as circumspect in regard to the heavenly ruler, Christ, as you are in dealing with earthly kings, you would provide yourself with power unending and perpetual glory. For earthly rulers pass quickly, as the psalm says: ‘Ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.’ And again, ‘I have seen the wicked highly exalted, and lifted up like the cedars of Libanus. And I passed by, and lo, he was not: and I sought him and his place was not found.’ “
The duke replied, “Spare us this idiocy and ignorant foolishness; sacrifice to the gods in obedience to the holy command of our ruler, the emperor Maximian. If you will not, know that you force me to forget all that has come to me through you and to subject you to the most rigorous punishment decreed by law.”
Serge answered, “Do as you will. I have Christ to preserve me, who said, ‘Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.’ The body is subject to you: torture and punish it if you wish. But bear in mind that even if you kill my body, you can not dominate my soul Ñ neither you nor your father, Satan.”
The duke responded angrily: “It appears that my patience has served only to prod you along the path of willfulness.” He summoned the official in charge and told him, “Fasten long nails in his boots, sticking straight up, and then put them on him.” Once the boots were on, Antiochus sat in his carriage, directed that the animals be driven fiercely all the way to Tetrapyrgium, and ordered the blessed one to run in front of him. Tetrapyrgium is nine miles from Syrum. While he ran, the blessed one sang, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me. He brought me up also out of a horrible pagan pit, out of the miry clay of idolatry, and set my feet upon a rock, and establishes my goings.”
When they reached the castle of Tetrapyrgium the duke said, “It amazes me, Serge, that having first been kept in such confinement you can now sustain these bitter torments.” The most holy martyr answered, “These tortures are not bitter to me, but sweeter than honey.” The duke got out of the chariot and went in to breakfast, indicating that [Serge] should be retained in the soldiers’ custody.
In the evening [Serge] sang psalms. “Those who did eat of my bread hath lifted up their heels against me, and with the cords of hideous torture they have laid a net for my feet, hoping to trip me up. But rise, Lord, outrun them and cause them to stumble, and rescue my soul from the wicked.” About midnight an angel of the Lord came to him and healed him, restoring his feet completely. In the morning, mounting the bench, the duke ordered him brought in, thinking he would be unable to walk and would have to be carried, on account of his feet. When he saw him coming, walking a considerable distance and not limping at all, he was astounded, and exclaimed, “The man is a sorcerer. This must be how he managed to enjoy such familiarity with the emperor: he accomplished it through sorcery. What I am seeing is the proof of what they said about him. I would have thought it wholly impossible for him to walk on his feet after having been disabled by the torture inflicted on him yesterday. By the gods I am confounded at seeing him now walk as if nothing had happened!”
When the blessed Serge stood before the bench Antiochus addressed him. “Come to your senses even now, sacrifice to the gods, and you will avoid further torture. I will spare you out of respect for your kindness. If you will not, know that the witchcraft with which you devised to heal yourself will not avail you.”
To which the blessed Serge replied, “If only you could escape the intoxication of diabolical error. I am in my senses in the Lord who has trampled the weapons of your father the devil under the feet of his humble servant, and has given me victory over you, and sent his angel to heal me. It is you who are the magician, and those who worship demons. It is the cult of your nameless idols that invented every sorcery, that is the beginning and cause and conclusion of all evil.”
Antiochus sat down on his carriage even angrier, and commanded [Serge] to run before him wearing the same boots as far as the castle of Rosafae, another nine miles from Tetrapyrgium. When they came to the castle of Rosafae, the duke said to the blessed Serge, “Has the agony of the nails untied the knot of your idiocy?’ Are you prepared now to sacrifice to the gods, or will you persist in this insane obsession?”
The noblest martyr rejoined, “Know this, Antiochus: with this foolishness I will dissolve and undo your malicious and wicked strength. Do what you will: I will not worship demons, nor sacrifice to idols. Blameless in this, I strive to offer sacrifice only to my Lord.”
Seeing that he remained steadfast and immovable in his faith and confession of Christ, the duke pronounced sentence against him: “You have rendered yourself unworthy of the favor of the gods, Serge, and become a member of the unholy sect called Christians, injuring the great good of our ruler, the emperor Maximian, by refusing to comply with his holy decree and sacrifice to the gods. For this the law requires that you suffer the penalty of the sword.” A number of those present shouted out that the sentence issued against him was just. The guards came immediately and gagged his holy lips, took him out of the courtroom, and led him away to be executed.
A great crowd of men, women, and children followed, to see the blessed one meet his end. Seeing the beauty blooming in his face, and the grandeur and nobility of his youth, they wept bitterly over him and bemoaned him. The beasts of the region left their lairs and gathered together with the people, doing no injury to the humans, and bewailed with inarticulate sounds the passing of the holy martyr.
When they reached the place where the holy martyr of Christ was to meet his end, he called on the guards to allow him a little time to pray. Extending his hands to heaven, he said, “The beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, recognizing your dominion and rule, Lord, have gathered together for the glory of your holy name, so that you will incline and wish of your goodness to turn through their unreason the reason of humans to knowledge of you. For you wish all to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. When you lay death upon them, accept their repentance, Lord, and do not remember the sin of ignorance which they have perpetrated against us for your sake. Enlighten the eyes of their minds and lead them to the knowledge of you. Receive, Lord, my spirit, and give it rest in the heavenly tents with all the others whom you have found acceptable. To you do I commend my soul, which you have rescued from the snares of the devil.”
Saying this and signing himself, he knelt and was beheaded, giving up his spirit to the angels. A voice from heaven said, “Come, also, Serge, soldier and victor, to the kingdom prepared for you. The hosts of angels, the ranks of patriarchs, the choirs of apostles and prophets, the souls of the just all await your coming to share with them the wonderful things in store for you there.”
The place that received the holy martyr’s blood became a great chasm; God arranged this so that those who wallow like pigs in the mire of paganism, terrified when they saw the abyss, would not dare to approach or trample in this spot the blood of the holy martyr. That was the reason this great chasm came into existence, and the spot has remained so up to the present day, bearing the signs of great antiquity at the command of God, to establish the miracle visually for unbelievers, so that they may build on it a firm foundation of faith.
Some of those who had come to witness the death of the holy martyr, seeing that they shared a common nature [with him], gathered up his remains and buried them handsomely where the holy one had died. After a great while some religious men from the castle of Souros, prompted by zeal for the service of Christ, but pious in a somewhat piratical way, tried to steal the body from the spot, as if it were some precious treasure. The saint would not suffer his body, which had been dragged around, whipped, and triumphed so publicly in the faith of Christ, to be moved in secret, so he asked of God that a fire be set in the spot, not to seek revenge on those attempting the theft or to burn them, but so that by lightening the gloom of night he would reveal the robbery to those in the castle of Rosafae, which is just what happened. Once the fire was burning in the place where the saint lay, some of the soldiers living there saw the flames reaching to the sky, and thought that the great blaze had been set by some enemy, so they came out armed and pursued those attempting to steal the saint’s body. They prevailed on them to remain there a few days and to build from stones and clay a tomb where he lay. Once they had honorably covered the body of the saint, they went away.
After a time, when the religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Chrisr had begun to flourish, some very holy bishops Ñ fifteen in number Ñ gathered together and constructed near the castle of Rosafae a shrine worthy of [Serge’s] confession, and moved his remains there, installing them in the shrine on the very day he was martyred: the seventh of October.
Many miracles and cures were effected wherever his holy relics were, especially in the tomb where he had first lain. For it is a quality of the place of his death that the saint is able to prevail upon God to heal all those who come there with any sort of disease, and to cure those possessed of unclean spirits, and to render savage beasts completely tame. The animals, in fact, observe the day of his death every year as if it were a law, coming in from the surrounding desert and mingling with the humans without doing them any harm, nor do their savage impulses move them to any violence against the humans who come there. Rather, they come to the place in gentleness out of reverence for the holy martyr, at the command of God, to whom be glory, honor, and power, now and for ever. Amen.
The Passion of St. Theagenes of Parium (BHG 2416)
On 3 January. The Martyrdom of the Holy and Esteemed Martyr of Christ, Theagenes
1. Many great martyrs have prevailed over the work of the Evil Adversary because of their power in the name of the Lord, among whom the most holy martyr Theagenes has also been deemed worthy to be counted, having wrestled with the Enemy in every manner and defeated him.
2. During the time of the emperor Licinius, Theagenes, the son of a bishop, was conscripted in Phrygia and sent to the legion entitled the Second Trajan under the tribune Zelicinthius and the praepositus Posidonius. This legion was stationed in Parium in the Hellespontus, which city is superior to Cyzicus. Brought before the tribune and the praepositus, blessed Theagenes was being forced to serve as a soldier. But being faithful and accomplished in the eyes of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, he declared in the middle of the legion, “I am a Christian, and I serve the Immortal King who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His soldier and servant am I, and I cannot serve another king.” The tribune Zelicinthius said, “Theagenes, take the cloak, tunic and the full armour, and serve Licinius the great king”. Holy Theagenes replied, “I serve my King, and I cannot serve another.” Zelicinthius said, “Does Licinius not seem to you to be emperor?” Holy Theagenes replied, “I do not know. I am a Christian, and it is not possible for me to desert my Lord and King.” Zelicinthius said, “What, so? Are these men standing about not Christians, and they serve?” Theagenes replied, “Each knows how he serves. For I know that I serve King and Master.” Zelicinthius said, “Surely, the gods do not mock?” Theagenes replied “I do not know who are gods, except God the Almighty whom I know through His Son. [For the Holy Scripture says, “I said: You are gods, and all sons of the Most High, but you will die like men.” For it calls gods the pious and faithful men who have recognised the Truth.]” Posidonius the praepositus said, “And does your God have a son?” Theagenes replied, “Yes, he has a Son, the Word of His Truth, through whom He made all things.” Zelicinthius said, “If we want, can we know Him?” Theagenes replied, “Yes, if you are willing, you will quickly know Him.” Posidonius said, “If we recognise Him, can we desert our emperor and surrender to him?” Theagenes said, “There is nothing which prevents you from leaving the darkness and the licence which you enjoy for a short time before your temporary and mortal emperor, and surrendering to the Living God, Eternal King, and Master of the Universe, and serving Him, just as I do and many others who have placed their hope in Him, and you will live for eternity.”
3. Then the tribune Zelicinthius, exceedingly angered and grinding his teeth like a lion in the wilderness, said to the whole legion, “Let us go off by night to the parade-ground outside the city.” When they had arrived there, he marked out the ground and ordered four stakes to be sunk and blessed Theagenes to be stretched out there. When the holy man had been stretched out between the four stakes, he ordered him to be beaten with rough wooden clubs. When eight centurions were changed, Zelicinthius said to him, “Serve the great emperor Licinius.” Holy Theagenes replied, “I serve the King of the Ages, Christ the Son of the Living God, who comes to judge the living and the dead, and rewards everyone according to his works. For there is no-one upon the earth, either of the kings, rulers, or the mighty, who will escape Him.”
4. Again the tribune ordered him to be beaten. While the holy man was being beaten over a great space of time, he sang psalms and his face changed as if he was experiencing great joy and happiness. And when the tribune changed eighteen centurions, and the clubs with which they were beating him broke upon him, and he was casting their bodies from him like winnowed chaff, he took courage yet still more and rejoicing sang psalms to the Lord, speaking thus, “Blessed be God the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has deemed me worthy to reach this day and has brought me to this joyous state in which I am now. And blessed be the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the King of heaven and earth and that which is under the earth,6 and the Lord of all, both seen and unseen, because He has counted me worthy to suffer these things on account of His all-holy name and to share in His suffering and that of His holy martyrs.”
5. While he was saying these things, the tribune and the praepositus thought that he was asking them to be set free, and said to him, “Are you willing to serve?” Filled with the Holy Spirit the noble athlete of Christ, Theagenes, replied in a louder voice and said, “I have already told you, and I tell you now again, that I am a Christian and I serve the King of Kings and cannot desert my Lord and King. You constrain me by inflicting lengthy tortures upon me. Yet these tortures which you think that you inflict upon me mean nothing.” The tribune Zelicinthius said to him, “What? Do you not feel the tortures yet?” Holy Theagenes said, “I am not being tortured at all, nor can you do anything to me. You have power over the body. Torture it whenever you wish. For you cannot separate me from Christ my Master and King. If you want, bring bigger clubs and stronger workmen. For these workmen and clubs of yours are useless against me.” [“The Lord is my helper,” he said, “and I will not be afraid. What will man do to me? The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and torture will not touch them. They seemed in the eyes of the foolish to be dead, and their passing away was thought an affliction”8].
6. When he had said these things, the tribune ordered him to be brought into the city. It was about the ninth hour of the night, and he stretched him out publicly in the city in the market-place. And there he was stretched out to four columns. Passing by and seeing him, the optio of the legion said, “Where is the God and King whom you serve? Why does He not rescue you from these tortures?” To him the holy man replied, “I told you earlier, and I tell you now again, that these things being inflicted upon me are not tortures, but a cause of delight and exultation. For my Lord and King, whom you do not see, since you do not look with the eyes of the soul, is before me, saving me from the tortures.” The optio said to him, “If I had the right of execution, I would count you as a waste of time and throw you to the dogs.” To which blessed Theagenes replied, “You can do nothing to me, but the days will come not long hereafter when your legs and those of your tribune will be hurled into the wilderness and burned by the sun. Your bodies will be consumed by the beasts and reptiles of the earth, and all who do not believe in my Lord and King will themselves be killed shortly afterwards also by those pursuing them. Great affliction, pain, and great destruction will befall those of you who serve.”
7. And when blessed Theagenes had said these things, the tribune ordered him to be thrown into the cell, and to be stretched out upon the rack up to four points. And having sealed the door of the cell, he left him there to die of starvation. That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “Theagenes, my dear and faithful servant, take courage and rejoice, since I am with you and share your suffering. So do not accept food or drink from these men. For you will have eternal and incorruptible life with me in heaven.” And when he had said these things, the Lord left him. Blessed Theagenes was nourished by the Holy Spirit, and having seen the fearful vision of the Lord, he began to sing psalms and rejoice and praise God. A large crowd, as it were, replied to him, and those standing guard ran to the door of the prison. Seeing the door locked and the seal intact, they watched carefully through the door and saw a large crowd dressed in white singing psalms with blessed Theagenes, and fearful, they reported to the tribune.
8. He rose immediately and went running to the door of the cell. And when he saw the chain secure and the seal intact, and heard the sound of those singing in company with blessed Theagenes, he made the soldiers stand guard in a circle about the cell with shields and full-armour, and opened and entered it, thinking that there were Christians with blessed Theagenes. Entering he found no-one except the servant of God stretched out alone upon the rack, rejoicing and singing psalms. So great dread seized him and the soldiers present with him, and they locked the doors and left. Then the tribune ordered the blessed man to accept a bit of bread and a mixed cup of water. In accordance with scripture which says that “The just man will live on faith”, and that “I am the Bread descended from Heaven”, the holy martyr did not care to eat or accept anything from them, saying that “My Lord and King nourishes me.”
9. When it was morning, the tribune wrote to the emperor Licinius telling him all these things and as much as the martyr Theagenes did and resisted before him in his unwillingness to serve an earthly king. The emperor Licinius wrote back in reply ordering him to be thrown into the sea so that his body would not be recovered. Thus, when he received this command on the 3rd day before the None of January, the tribune treated him as ordered. When this sentence had been delivered to him, holy and blessed Theagenes set off giving thanks for eternal life. His appearance was graceful and radiant, as if he was returning from a bath or great party.
10. See, having boarded the ship and reached the place where he was about to be thrown overboard, he asked the soldiers and the sailors to grant him a small favour, that he might pray to God! And when he received this, the holy servant of Christ stood facing towards the East and spread out his hands. He prayed for about three hours, since even the sailors were ashamed to be afraid to touch him. But he turned to them and said, “Brothers, carry out your command without fear and returning to the city in peace, believe in the Lord with your whole heart, and receive eternal life.” When he had said these things, and signed himself thrice, they threw him into the sea.
11. And returning to the city, they detailed all that they had seen blessed Theagenes do, and they themselves believed in the Lord as did another large crowd from the legion on that day. But Zelicinthius and his officers were deprived off their legs by the emperor twelve miles from the city not many days afterwards. Furthermore even, the whole legion went off to war and was destroyed.
12. Three days after the holy man had been thrown into the sea, the brothers Eutyches, Eustathius, Zoticus, Germanus, and many others, gathered together and collected his body which had been cast up by the sea safe and sound. Having secretly readied him for burial, they placed him in a coffin and carried him by night along the walls of the city to the estate of Adamantius, a most faithful and very pious man, and there they set him beneath the ground. Great cures are worked in this place now, the possessed are cleansed, the feverish are cured, and every other disease and malady is remedied through the grace given to him by our Lord Jesus Christ.
13. He spent forty days in his cell, neither eating anything at all nor drinking water. For he had the abundance from heaven. So we have written this very account to the churches of God dwelling beside Nicomedia and in Byzantium, Heraclea, and Cyzicus, in order that, recognised among the whole people of God, the confessions of faith of the blessed martyr Theagenes might make the brothers more steadfast in the faith and impel the unbelievers and those in two minds about the Word to believe, we who believe in God the Almighty Father and Lord Jesus Christ, our Hope together with the Holy Spirit, to whom be the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Passion of St. Theagenes (BHL 8106)
Here begins the passion of saint Theogenes the martyr.
1. Learn, brothers, what great signs, wonders and good deeds God accomplished in our country at the time when an edict of the tyrant Licinius circulated the whole eastern region which was beneath his rule, to the effect that all those who were serving the state in whatever office should be called to offer sacrifice. It was the devil, who was waging war against the servants of God, who incited Licinius to this action. One of these servants of God was blessed Theogenes who by his great sufferings overcame the devil like a most strong athlete. He had been conscripted into military service, and arrived at Phrygia in the legion entitled Second Trajan under the command of the tribune Zelicentius and the praepositus Possidonius. This legion had its base in a place in Hellespontus. Theogenes was brought to the tribune and the praepositus, and was forced to undertake military service. However, since he was faithful and filled with God, he said in the middle of the legion, “I am a Christian, and I have been accepted into service by the great emperor, the king of kings. I serve him, and I cannot serve another.” Zelicentius said, “Serve. Accept the military cloak, the sword-belt and weapons, and be a soldier of Licinius, the great king.” Theogenes replied, “I serve my king and cannot serve another.” Zelicentius said, “Do you not accept that Licinius is your king?” Theogenes said, “I do not. I am a Christian, and I am not allowed to deny my king.” Zelicentius asked, “Are not those standing about Christians who serve in the army also?” Theogenes replied, “I do not know. Each knows how he serves. Yet I know what I have undertaken. I am not permitted to deny my king, and I ought not to serve another king. I am not passing from the service of one to the other.”
2. Zelicentius asked, “Do the gods mock you?” Theogenes replied, “Who are the gods? I recognise only the one Lord and his son Jesus Christ who is the king of kings.” The praepositus Possidonius spoke, “Your God has a son, then?” Zelicentius added, “Can we know him?” Theogenes replied, “Would that God would give to you such understanding as to know him.” Possidonius continued, “And if we recognise him for who he is, can we desert our king and cross to him?” Theogenes said, “You can. For there is nothing which stops you from deserting the darkness and that temporary confidence you have in him who is not a king, from joining the living God who is the king of ages, serving him as I, and living forever.”
3. The tribune Zelicentius, seized with fury, began to grind his teeth. He told the legion to bring him by night to the assembly-ground. He ordered four stakes to be erected there, and that he be stretched out and beaten with clubs. When the eight centurions had changed, Zelicentius spoke to him, “Serve, Theogenes.” Theogenes replied in a loud voice, “I serve the king of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God who will come to judge the living and the dead, and there is no king, leader or man of authority who can escape him.”
4. The tribune again ordered that he be beaten. When he was being beaten, he prayed the psalms, and his face became happier and more joyous. When the eighteen centurions had changed the clubs with which his flesh was being beaten – for they were being broken into pieces like chaff – he actually took more strength, rejoicing and proclaiming, “Blessed be God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and blessed be Jesus Christ his Son, maker of heaven and earth, hell also, and the visible and invisible, guide and ruler, who has found me worthy to suffer these things in his name and become a colleague of the holy martyrs.”
5. When he was still speaking, the tribune, the commander and the whole legion thought that he was asking to be released, and Zelicentius asked, “What are you saying? Are you willing to serve?” However Theogenes, Christ’s athlete, replied, “I have already told you, and now I tell you again, I am a Christian and serve the king of kings, and I cannot therefore desert the Lord my king and cross to eternal punishment and death. They are nothing those tortures which you think to inflict upon me.” Zelicentius said, “Do you not feel your punishment, then?” Theogenes replied, “I suffer no punishment, nor can you do anything to me. You have power over the flesh only; torture that as you will. Bring on bigger clubs even, and call stronger workmen. Do whatever you please, you cannot turn me from my king.”
6. When he had said these things, the tribune ordered him to be led into the city. Now it was the ninth hour almost, and he stretched him out publicly in the forum. He was stretched to four columns. Passing by the optio of the legion saw him and said, “Where is your God, the king whom you serve? Why has he not freed you from this punishment?” Theogenes answered him, “I have told you already that I do not feel this punishment. For Jesus Christ, my lord and my king, stands in my sight, and he alleviates the torture of this savage punishment. You do not see him because you are blind in the eyes of your soul.” The optio replied to him, “If I had the right of execution, I would cut you into pieces now, and give you to the dogs.” Theogenes said to him, “You are able to do these things to me now, but there will come a time, not long from now, when your limbs and those of your tribune will be cast into the wilderness and burned by the sun. Your flesh, and that of all your families who do not believe in my Lord the crucified king, will be devoured by the beasts. There will be tribulation, sorrow and great ruin for all of you who are seen to serve in the army.”
7. When Theogenes had said these things, the tribune ordered him to be thrown into prison, and stretched on the rack as far as the fourth inch. He sealed the door of the prison, and left him there to die of hunger. However, Theogenes was nourished by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Lord appeared to him that very night, and said, “Be comforted, Theogenes, for I will be with you. Do not accept food and drink from all these. Everlasting life will be yours in heaven with me.” When the Lord had departed, Theogenes began to sing psalms and rejoice. Moreover, there was a great crowd responding to him. Accordingly, the prison-guards heard the voice of Theogenes and those responding to him. They rose and ran to the door of the prison. They found the door closed, the seal intact, and heard the sound of those singing psalms with Theogenes.
8. Then the tribune made the soldiers stand around about the prison armed with shield and weapons. He opened it and went in, thinking that there were Christians within with Theogenes. But when he went in he saw no-one except Theogenes, who was singing psalms while stretched out on the rack, and great dread immediately seized him. Moreover, great fear seized in a similar manner also the crowd of soldiers who had accompanied him, and they closed up the entrance and left. Indeed, the tribune ordered a little bread and some water to be given to Theogenes. But in accordance with scripture, “The just man lives on faith”, or as the Lord himself said, “I am the bread which comes down from Heaven”, and since he was being fed by the Lord, Theogenes refused to accept anything, and replied, “My Lord and King feeds me.”
9. When it was light, the tribune reported to the king all the things that Theogenes had done, and that he was refusing to serve in the army. The king wrote that he should be thrown into the sea. When he heard the tyrant’s command, Theogenes praised almighty God and the Lord Jesus Christ saying, “I bless you, Lord, because you have not deserted me your servant.” So on the 4 January he was thrown into the sea. He had spent 40 days in jail without food or water, be he went rejoicing and exulting to the eternal life to which God had called him, looking like he was on the way back from the baths or from lunch.
10. When they had reached the place from which he was to be thrown into the sea, Theagenes asked the sailors and soldiers to give him time to pray. When he had prayed for three hours continuously, the sailors and soldiers began to be afraid. He himself swore and said to them,
11. When they returned to the city they reported all the things which they had seen the holy martyr Theagenes do, and they believed in the Lord. In addition, a second group also from the same legion took faith in the Lord. Furthermore, 40 days later the king ordered the legs of Zelicentius and the other officers to be broken at the 12th milestone from the city, in addition to which even the legion was slaughtered when it went to war.
12. Three days after Theogenes had been thrown into the sea, the brothers Euticus, Eustochius, Zoticus, Germanus and other brothers recovered him secretly from the sea. And when they had clothed him, they placed him in a casket, carried him through the night and deposited him outside the walls of the city at the villa of a certain Adamantius, a man of faith. Many healings occur in that place now. For the possessed are cleansed, the feverish are cured, and many other wonders occur there.
13. Accordingly, we have written this to the churches of God so that, when these things are read, others may be strengthened by the example of the blessed martyr. Pay attention, you brothers who are in charge of the churches of God, since I, Euticus, a humble servant of God, have written these things by the revelation of Jesus Christ. So if anyone who is in charge of the churches of God is negligent with the result that these things are not read, he will receive judgement both now and in the next world. Moreover, when you read or hear these things, pray for me and for those brothers who have laboured for the holy martyr. The blessed martyr Theagenes died on 3 January in the forum at Hellespontus. Amen.
The Passion of St. Theodore the Recruit (BHL 8077)
1. During their time Maximianus and Maximinus sent throughout all the territory of their empire an edict against all the followers of the true religion of Christ, that they could escape tortures and live by tasting food which had been offered in sacrifice, and that those who spoke against this were to be surrendered to the judges and subjected to many different punishments. At this time Theodore was conscripted for military service, and together with him many other recruits, and was assigned to a legion entitled the legio Marmaritarum under the command of the praepositus Brincas. This legion was staying in the city of Amasea in the province of Hellespontus, where all were being compelled to offer sacrifice to the idols in accordance with the imperial edict.
2. When he spoke out against these things blessed Theodore was brought to the praepositus Brincas. Brincas said to him, “Why do you not obey the commands of the emperors’ and offer sacrifice to the immortal gods ?” Blessed Theodore, since he was faithful to God and filled with the Holy Spirit, replied, stand- ing in the midst of the legion, “It is because I am a Christian that I have not accepted the command to offer sacrifice to evil images; for I have as my king Christ in heaven.” The praepositus Brincas said to him, “Take your arms, Theodore, and accept military service; agree to sacrifice to the immortal gods, and obey the victorious emperors.” But saint Theodore said in reply, “I serve my emperor and cannot serve another.” The praepositus Brincas said, “All these standing about are Christians, and they serve.” Theodore said, “Each knows how he serves. But I serve my lord and king of heaven, God, and his only son Jesus Christ.” The ducenarius Possidonius said, “So, your God has a son ?” Saint Theodore replied, “He has a son who is the Truth through whom all things were made.” The praepositus said to him, “Can we know him ?” Saint Theodore replied, “I wish that he would give such understanding to you as to recognise him.” Possidonius the ducinarius asked, “And if we recognise him, will we be able to leave the earthly emperor and go to him ?” Saint Theodore replied, “There is nothing which prevents you from deserting the darkness, and the trust which you hold in the house of your temporal and mortal earthly king, and going over to the Lord, the living and eternal heavenly king, in order to become soldiers like me.” The praepositus Brincas said, “Let us give him a truce for a few-days in order to take stock with himself and be converted to what is best.”
3. When he had received this time to think blessed Theodore remained in prayer. The officials, troubled also about the other Christians, went about the city to capture whoever else they found believing in Christ. When they had seized some they brought them to jail. Blessed Theodore, sitting with them, taught them the way of salvation and perseverance, saying, “Do not fear these tortures which are being inflicted upon you in order for you to deny the heavenly king and lord, Jesus Christ.” When he had said these and similar things to those who had been locked-up, he waited for an opportune time and entered by night the temple of the mother of the gods. He set fire to it, and burned it. But he was seen by someone, and accused. The book-keeper Cronides was terrified when he learned what had been done. He seized blessed Theodore and brought him to the governor Publius, saying, “This pest, a recent con- script, came into our city, set fire to the ancient temple of the mother of the gods, and harmed our gods. Thus I seized him, and have brought him to your highness in order for him to pay the penalty, in accordance with the command of our victorious emperors, for his bold deeds against our gods.” The judge, when he had listened to the praepositus Brincas who had been summoned, said to him, “Did you give him amnesty in order to set fire to the temple of our gods ?” In response he said, “I exhorted him often, and gave him an amnesty in order for him to think matters over with himself, and to compromise with us and make sacrificial offerings to the gods. If he has done this, since you are the judge, charge him in accordance with your authority as one who has con- tempt for the gods and despises the commands of our victorious emperors.” Thus, seated on his platform, the governor ordered blessed Theodore to be brought to him.”
4. When he had been brought the governor said to him, “Why have you set fire to and burned our goddess instead of sacrificing to her with incense and libations ?” Blessed Theodore said, “I do not deny what I have done. I have burned her with fire. Such is your goddess, and her power, that fire can touch and burn her. I have burned wood in order to set fire to stone.” Then, filled with fury, the governor ordered that he be beaten, saying, “Do not answer me with speeches. The most bitter tortures await you in order to make you obey the commands of the emperors.” Blessed Theodore said, “I do not surrender to you, nor do I fear your punishments, even if they are extremely fearful. So do what you want. For the expectation of good things calls me to be confident on account of the hope which has been placed in me and the crown which My Lord Jesus Christ has prepared for me.” The judge said, “Sacrifice to the gods and save yourself from the tortures which have been prepared for you.” Saint Theodore said, “Those tortures which you are bringing are not fearful to me. My Lord and king, Jesus Christ, stands before my face, he who will rescue me from your punishments, whom you do not see because you do not see with the eyes of your heart.” Thus the judge was angered, and roaring like a lion he ordered him to be thrown into prison, that the door of the prison be sealed, and that he be left there to die of hunger.
5. But blessed Theodore was nourished by the Holy Spirit. Moreover that same night there appeared to him the Lord, saying, “Take courage, my servant Theodore, because I am with you. So do not accept either food or drink from those men. For there is everlasting food for you in heaven.” And when he had said these things he left him. And when the Lord had ascended away from him blessed Theodore began to rejoice and sing psalms to the Lord. Moreover there were many people listening to him. When the prison-guards heard these things and saw that the door was closed and the seal intact, they looked through the window and saw a great crowd dressed in white singing together with saint Theodore. They went away in fear and reported these things to thejudge. And when he heard these things the judge rose and ran with haste. He reached the door of the prison, saw the prison was indeed locked, and heard the voices of those singing with blessed Theodore. When he had heard these the governor ordered that armed soldiers stand on guard in a circuit outside the prison, thinking that some Christians were inside with blessed Theodore. He opened it up, went inside and found no-one except only the holy servant of God Theodore pushed-down on the wooden [floor]. And great fear seized him and those who were with him. They went out bewildered and locking the prison again departed. Then the governor ordered that a loaf of bread and a cup of water be given daily to blessed Theodore. But Christ’s faithful martyr, in accordance with scripture that the just man lives on faith, did so and did not accept any food from them, but only said to himself, “Christ, My Lord and King, nourishes me.”
6. When it was morning the governor ordered blessed Theodore to be brought to him, and said to him, “Acquiesce, Theodore, save yourself from the tortures and offer sacrifice to the gods, so that I may quickly write to the emperors, lords of the world, that Theodore has become a priest, receives great honours from us and will be our companion.” Blessed Theodore, looking up at Heaven and crossing himself, said to the governor, “Even if you burn my flesh with fire, inflict various punishments and surrender me to the sword until I breathe-out my last, I will not deny My Lord.” Thus the governor, when he had heard these things and taken counsel with the praepositus, ordered the torturers to hang him up on a wooden frame and scrape his sides with iron claws. These scraped him to such an extent that his ribs were laid bare. However blessed Theodore made no answer to the governor, but recited the psalms, saying, “I will bless the Lord for all time, his praise will be upon my lips always.” The governor, amazed at such great endurance by the blessed martyr, said to him, “Are you not ashamed, you most wretched of all men, to hope in a man who is called Christ, and who died so badly ? Are you surrendering yourself in this way, without reason, to such punishments and tortures ?” But the holy martyr said, “This madness of mine is that of all who call upon the name of My Lord Jesus Christ.” The crowds were shouting to take him down because he had already been killed, and then the governor interogated him through a herald, saying, “Are you willing to offer sacrifice or do you want to be tortured still further by me ?” In reply blessed Theodore said confidently to the governor, “O you most wicked man, filled with every evil, you son of the devil, truly worthy of Satan’s work, do you not fear the Lord who gave you this power, through whom kings rule and tyrants obtain land, but compel me to desert the living God and worship lifeless stones ?” Then the judge, with much shuffling of [papers], said to the holy martyr, “What do you want ? to be with us or with your Christ ?” To which the holy martyr replied with great joy, “I have been, am, and shall be with my Christ.”
7. Seeing that he could not overcome the endurance of the holy martyr through tortures [the governor] passed sentence against him, speaking thus, “I order that Theodore, who does not obey the command of the victorious emperors and the power of the gods, who believes in Jesus Christ who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as I hear from the Jews, be surrendered to fire.” Immediately as he passed sentence the instruction was performed simultaneously with his command. The torturers, who had been continuously gathering wood from the traders and the baths, led him to the place which had been prepared. When fire had been kindled, laying aside his clothes and unloosing his belt, he wished also to undo his shoes, and each of the faithful was hurrying to be the first to touch his perspiration. They were all coming and touching him before his passion. They brought to him imnmediately those necessities which had been gathered for the fire. To those who wished to pierce him the blessed martyr said, “Support me; he who has given me endurance in my punishments will him- self grant also that I endure untouched the force of the fire.” They did not pierce him then, but only tied him up and went away. But the holy martyr, speaking the words of the sign of the cross, with his hands tied behind his back, like a ram chosen from a great flock readied and accepted as a holocaust to God, looked up to heaven and said, “Lord God Almighty, Father of your blessed Son Jesus Christ through whom we received knowledge of you, God of virtues and of every creature and every nation of just men who live in your presence, I bless you because you have made me worthy of this day and hour that I may receive a part with the holy martyrs before Christ the Saviour at the resurrection, and eternal life of body and soul through the preserving gift of the Holy Spirit. I will be taken up among the martyrs into your sight today as a rich and acceptable sacrifice which you have beforehand tested, tried and discovered to be without fault. For you are the true God, and I praise you accordingly, asking and beseeching you through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. Grant also, Lord, that those who have been detained with me will reach this palm.”
8. And watching with his eyes he saw Cleonicus, who had been conscripted with him, standing and weeping in the crowd, and crying-out he said, “Cleonicus, I await you. Hurry and join me. For we did not desert each other in this earthly life and let us not be separated from each other in the heavenly life.” And when he had finished talking he prayed, saying, “Lord Jesus Christ, Mediator between God and men, you who have shown me worthy to win this contest, I thank and praise and glorify the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit throughout the ages. Amen.” And when he had finished praying the servants of the devil lit the great fire. But while a great flame flickered we to whom it was granted to see saw a miracle, and we were preserved in order to report to others the things which occurred. For the flame took the shape of an arched roof, like a ship’s sail filled by the wind, and surrounded the body of the holy martyr. And it was not so much like a corpse burning but like bread being baked. The Holy Spirit arrived, and the holy martyr, without harm in the midst of the flame, praised and glorified God, and returned his spirit to Christ. He was taken into the heavens on 9 November. We were all filled with the most pleasant fragrance. Moreover a voice came down to him from the heavens, saying “Come, my beloved, Theodore, enter into the joy of your Lord because you have faithfully completed the course of your struggle.” We who were standing about saw and heard all these things, and we also saw the heavens opened above him.
9. A certain woman of noble birth by the name of Eusebia came and sought the body of the holy martyr Theodore. Embalming his holy body with wine and pre- cious ointments she wrapped it in clean cloth, placed it in a casket, and took it to her estate which was one day’s journey distant from the city of Amasea, into an area called Euchaita. She decided to turn her estate into a church. She made her house there perfect and holy. And she celebrated everyday there the commemoration of the blessed martyr Theodore. In that place many were cleansed of evil spirits and various infirmities through him, even to the present day, to the praise and glory of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit who lives and reigns now and forever and until the end of time. Amen.
Coptic Passion of St. Theodore the General and St. Theodore the Eastern
The following encomium is attributed to Theodore, archbishop of Antioch c.AD750-773, but this cannot be taken too seriously since false attributions abound in Coptic literature of this type. It is written in Bohairic dialect. The manuscript – Vat. Copt. 65 (14th century)- consists of 120 vellum leaves and contains three works, a homily of Mark, 49th patriarch of Antioch, on the burial of our Lord, the encomium on the Theodores, and the life of Onuphrius the anchorite by Paphnutius the anchorite. At the end of the latter is a colophon of the deacon Gabriel, son of Menas, giving the date AD979.
The Passion of St. Theodore the General and St. Theodore the Eastern
(Translation by Winstedt (1910), 73-133)
[p. 73] An encomium which the holy confessor of Christ who longed for the glory of martyrdom, the holy abba Theodore, the archbishop of Antioch delivered. He delivered it in honour of the martyrs of Christ and the brave victors, St. Theodore the Eastern and St. Theodore the General, the son of John the Egyptian, who slew the great dragon and saved the little son of the widow of the city Euchetos, and the name of Christ was exalted. And when he delivered this encomium according to their dignity in the sanctuary of St. Theodore the Oriental there was a vast concourse of people assembled in the church celebrating the festival of Theodore the General on the day of his honourable commemoration, that is the 20th of Epiphi. This was the day too of the consecration of the sanctuary of St. Theodore the Eastern: since they had not yet built the oratory of St. Theodore the General, but celebrated his holy festival in the sanctuary of the hero, the Eastern. In the peace of God, amen.
Glorious indeed is the noble mother who cherishes two sons of the kingdom at one time, my [p. 74] beloved: and the more so if those two children are of royal race. For this reason their nurse is rightly honoured, because she brought them up and cherished them well. And most of all if they show their boldness and valour to the king, and, when they grow up, walk before the king rightly and slay all his enemies; then theron the nurse glories in the children she has cherished well till they are valiant warriors for the kingdom. And when they have grown a little, the king will honour them because they show him their boldness and are warriors in the battle. Then the king too gives them rank and honour, that the court may exalt them the higher. And when after a time they go to war and do some little valiance in prportion to their strength, the king rejoices in them, because they are sons of the kingdom: and he writes their name in the register of the kingdom. And so he appoints them generals of the whole army; and men honour them and glory in them, saying, “If these do such great valiance in their childhood, how much the more when they grow up, will they be mighty men and generals.” Then the king and his great men honour those little children because of their bravery, and cherish them well in the pleasure of the palace and the feast, that their strength grow.
On this wise then, my beloved, these two heroes from their childhood were heroes, and generals in their demeanour – I mean Theodore the general, whose feast we are celebrating today in the sanctuary of [p. 75] his comrade the Eastern. My beloved, they were two valiant lions from their childhood in all things: they were mighty in their babyhood: they were warlike generals and warriors. So they then are like the two sons of Mouses the prophet, Jesou the son of Naue, and Chaleb the son of Jephone, who won the battles before Mouses. And these two heroes, whose feast we celebrate together today, St. Theodore the Eastern and St. Theodore the General, have names worthy of glory abiding forever. They are the mighty ones who fight for Antioch and scatter the wars that rise against her like Jerusalem, whose mighty men, Abenner the son of Ner and Symei the son of Cirara fought for her and watched over her gates day and night that no stranger might rise up against her.
Even so these two heroes fought for the city Antioch that the Persians might not master her.
Behold then, my beloved, the valour of these saints, who are equal with one another: the Eastern slew the dragon which was beneath the ladder, which troubled the angels coming down from heaven and adjured them in the name of the Exalted. For this reason when St. Theodore the Eastern trampled upon him, the angels rejoiced in coming down upon the earth, because there was none to hinder them again. For this reason the archangel Michael prayed for him while he did this valiance that his throne might be placed before his own in the skies. This very saint it was, who trampled on the great dragon that fought with the angels. Again this saint too whose festival we are celebrating today, St. Theodore the General, slew the raging dragon, consoled the orphans, removed the grief of the widows, set [p. 76] free those in bonds, abolished unrighteous sacrifices, although none of his troop of soldiers fought with him, but he alone in the strength of Christ slaughtered this so great dragon. For this reason, when he saved the little child of the widow and slew the dragon, his sacrifice pleased the Lord, and him gave him this great valour. And he gave him power to crush every dragon upon the earth and those beneath the earth and those in hell: that, if they even hear of him, they tremble. For he it is who slew their father first; and therefore do his sons tremble before him. Again this true hero and mighty champion was not content with these favours. God gave his soul in honour to the holy Archangel Michael to take to the place of his fellow martyr and saint, Theodore the Eastern, that their comradeship might abide for ever in the heavens.
I tell ye, ye godfearing people, that even to the dragons which are in the roads causing fear to sinners and stinging them, these too even so, when they hear the name of St. Theodore the Eastern and St. Theodore the General, know their valour and that they are the foes of the dragons. Straghtway they hide themselves before them: when they hear their name, they vanish. I tell you, my beloved, if a soul is in the hands of a dragon that is stinging it for its sins, if one of these generals is passing by the place, when the dragon recognises the footfall of his horse, he leaves that soul and tortures it not for fear of the holy martyrs. Especially if it be a soul who makes memorial of these saints upon the [p. 77] earth in any way, be it a book of memorial, be it an offering, be it any good thing, then none of the tribe of dragons can approach that soul to do it any harm whatever.
Truly, my beloved, my joy is double today: I rejoice over two martyrs, Theodore the Eastern and Theodore the General; though they were both generals and their names were equal with one another in honour. For the beginning of the name of both is in one letter. For Theta is the beginning of their names. The interpretation of Theta is Theos: Theos again is god, who gave strength to them that they might become martyrs and their name endure. And when the name of God is reckoned with them, they are three in one letter, and the Trinity is complete and inseparable, that is to say the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. If I connect their names with the Trinity, this is true: but not in honour nor in power nor in might, nor in godhead, nor in majesty; but as it were the sons of God, and heirs of his Christ. When I look at the majesty of their conduct [p. 78] and their faces filled with joy and grace, I count them the sons of God, even as a bunch hanging from the vine, whose branch covers the vineyard, which rejoices in its shade and drinks of its water. Even so these two heroes, Theodore the Eastern and Theodore the General, live from the glory of the Trinity, since they are servants and jointheirs of Christ. And I too, the humble Theodore, feel a longing towards these two mighty and valiant lions and warriors, my lord Theodore the Eastern and my lord Theodore the General, the fame of whose might has filled the whole world.
My lord Theodore the Eastern then resembled Abenner, against whom none ever prevailed in any war he entered, either to take him on the point of his lance or to endure the weight of his chariot. Against Abener none ever prevailed save the man of wiles Joab. And none ever prevailed against this mighty man, the Eastern, in war: but they who were in the battle would ask one another saying: “Cometh not Theodore the Oriental to the battle this time ?” And when they knew the side of the battle where he was, they would flee to the other side. If again the Oriental saw the battle afoot, he would ride into their midst, and cry aloud sayin: “I am Theodore the Oriental.” Straightway when they heard his voice, they were afraid and trembled and fell down from their horses, and were crushed. And none could sustain this great hero’s chariot nor his lance by reason of [p. 79] their weight except himself; and in all these valiant deeds none took him except the abominable unrighteous sinner Diocletian. Again I see my lord Theodore the General himself inclining to listen to the halting words of my humble self, the insignificant Theodore, and and rejoicing to hear his praise from my mouth as I speak in his honour. And this other too, my lord Theodore the General, resembles Simei the son of Cyrara, who had no fear before king David, but reviled him in the midst of his people on the day when he met him in the way. He reviled him because of the death of Ourias the Hittite and said to him in the midst of the whole people that he was an unrighteous king ………. like thy father the Egyptian, who strove against the god of thy mother and was banished by her to the land of Egypt. Now grieve me not from this time forth, lest I be wroth with thee and send thee to the barbarian land of Egypt, like thy father the Egyptian.” St. Theodore answered and said to Diocletian: “It is not just for you, Diocletian, to abuse the land of Egypt in which you grew up in your orphanhood. No shame is it to me, sinner, that you call my father an Egyptian, because that was the land of his fathers.
But great shame is it that a goatherd should sit upon the throne as king and drink men’s blood like a ravening beast. In truth, sinner, it were well for thee to be tending sheep in the fields as in days gone by rather than to be king. [p. 80] Know Diocletian, thy sceptre is a …. of the darkness of the air, thy crown is a crown of …., thy beaker a sword of double edge, thy wine blood of deceit, thy table destructive war, the pledge of death thy feast, thy throne a grave and sepuchre, accursed one.
Ye see now, godfearing people, the valour of this mighty man, this general, this victorious champion, this athlete, this martyr, this general, this hero, this good warrior in the lists of his lord, my lord St. Theodore the general, how he spake these words to the face of the king without fear. Now he is worthy to be exalted according to the desert of his valour, which he revealed in the city of Antioch, whose children are dwellers in heaven and in Sion.
And I will tell you too, my beloved, what this city Antioch resembles in its honour. It is like a spring of sweet water springing forth from beneath trees laden with fruit of sweet scent, the fame of whose scent fills the whole world. Even so then is it, my beloved. A wicked tyrant came walking and found its water sweet, and its trees covered with fruit. He abode by it in pride and drank of its water and ate of its fruit. But in his pride he cut down the trees that men could not find them and live from their fruit; and he destroyed the water of the spring. [p. 81] Accordingly that tyrant sinned against God and warred against man. But when God saw that he cut down the trees, and began to cover the spring, he deceived him swiftly in his wicked pride. And the spring appeared again and bubbled up, the roots of the trees which he had cut down, flourished exceedingly, and grew greater and worked cures healing the sick in many ways at one time. That spring is this city of Antioch abiding in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those trees, which it caused to spring up, are the warlike generals, St. Theodore the Eastern and Claudius and Apater and Apa Victor and Kyrios Justus and Eusebius and Basilides and Susinius and Stephen and Apa Polius and Theodore the General and many more. The tyrant who came upon them is Diocletian, who slew them in the name of Christ. The spring which he hid and got dominion over, is the glorious faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he despised. And these are the trees which grew up a second time after the tyrant whom God smote and he died an evil death. The spring which bubbled up again is the holy faith which is boldly revealed: the trees which were cut down and whose roots grew up again are the bodies of those saints which appeared upon the earth and performed signs and wonders, and cured the sick. Verily the riddle of the Prophet is accomplished, which he spake about Jerusalem; it fits with Antioch, when he says: “Their blood was shed round about Jerusalem, and there was none to bury their bodies.” Who are they who were slain round about Jerusalem, [p. 82] prophet David, whose bodies were not buried ?
The prophets’ bodies were buried; the Apostles were covered. Now, my father the prophet, tell me of those who were slain in the neighbourhood of thy city save the little children whom Herod slew among his children, for their bodies were many; the soldiers took half of their bodies from their mothers who would not give them up. The soldiers clave them in the middle and cast them on the dungheaps: while the other half remained in the hands of their mothers who wept over them. And on my city Antioch, fell this violence from the unrighteous king Diocletian, who strove with God and laid hands on every one who believed on Christ, and slew them, so that the streets of the town ran with blood, like a stream of water, shed in the name of Christ: and the soldiers persecuted every one who buried their bodies, except those who gave them money and gifts and took them in secret.
Now my city Antioch is glorious even as Jerusalem for the number of martyrs slain in it. The little children of Jerusalem were slain against their own wish and that of their parents: but the martyrs of my city of their own free will gave their heads to the sword, leaving their parents and their servants and their goods; and gave their bodies as a sacrifice to God. The wonder of my city Antioch surpasses that of Jerusalem, for her great and mighty warriors and her rich men who left what was theirs and followed after their conqueror, our Lord Jesus Christ, and were slain in his holy name. For this reason my city glories [p. 83] even as Jerusalem. The martyrs of my city Antioch vowed great gifts to the kingdom of heaven before they were slaughtered; the martyrs of my city had abundance of wealth and honours, and the things which people desire to see and see them not. The little children of Jerusalem were not granted the request of the kingdom of heaven according to the word of Revelations: “Rest ye till your brethren, who are killed as ye, be fulfilled”. Wherefore they stand waiting before them.
Again I hear of the first martyr of the city of Jerusalem, Stephen the archdeacon, who confessed Christ in the Synhedrim of the Jews, and was slain by them. The chief commander and martyr too of my city was Stephen son of Nicomion, the brother of Basilides. He too was the firstfruit of the confessors of Antioch; he too was the first who set his hope on Christ, for lo, when the king wrote the abominable decree, he stood and was troubled in his soul and said: “What is this new violence, king, which you have revealed in this town ? What is this written anathema of Apollo ? for my Lord Jesus Christ destroys every one who believes on him. Then Stephen got great strength, he leaped upon the soldier in whose hand the decree was, tore it from his hands and rent it in pieces, the king and all his great men looking on. And the king said to him, “Stephen, what is this thou hast done ? Thou hast done this to thy destruction and thy slaughter.” Straightway the king unsheathed his sword with his own hand, and clave him in twain in the middle. And the head of [p. 84] St. Stephen abode a great while while before the king speaking to his destruction. It cried aloud abundantly making mention of all the saints of my city Antioch. And so the fame of the head of St. Stephen spread abroad in Antioch, so that great crowds assembled to see the head speaking to the destruction of the king. And the king, when he saw the head of the saint speaking to his destruction in the presence of the crowd, was greatly ashamed and bade them bury it, while still speaking. And it came to pass when it was buried in the ground, it spake again abundantly; for three days after its burial every one heard it speaking and cursing the king like John the Baptist abusing Herod. Then when Diocletian saw that the head of St. Stephen did not keep silent, he had it cast into a vessel of lead with its mouth sealed, and thrown into the sea at night. So did St. Stephen fulfill his martyrdom on the 13th of the month Phamenoth; and his holy body was given to his mother.
After this let us return to the memorial of St. Theodore the General whose feast we are celebrating today in the chapel of his comrade Theodore the Eastern, since their honored festivals meet on one day, the 20th of Epiphi. This is the day of the dedication of the shrine of Theodore the Eastern. His mother then called him the Eastern after after the name of her father who was dead. And his mother called her firstborn the Eastern and he died. Again she bore our lord Theodore the Eastern; and his father Zotericus called him after the name of his father Theodore: and likewise again his mother for the love she bore her firstborn called him too the Eastern after the name of his elder brother who was dead and her father, the Eastern.
So the kindred of his father called him by this name, the Eastern. these two names were connected with one another and were sweet in the mouth of everyone like honey. The name of the father prevailed and had precedence, and he was called Theodore. Likewise the name of his mother followed and he was called the Eastern.
Now I call upon you, martyrs of my lord Jesus Christ, that ye aid me in my feebleness, because I have taken courage and come into your midst at the will of the godfearing king Constantine and his officers and councillors. Ye asked me bout the body of St. Theodore the General, why his body was not placed with the body of his comrade the Eastern, but abode in the land of Egypt, – and our city of Antioch lacks it – since he walked at all times with Theodore the Oriental.
And it is right that I should tell you why they took his body to Egypt; though it was no foreign land, but the land of his fathers.
Now it happened, my beloved, that when the father of Claudius was king at Antioch, and St. Kyrios Claudius was a little child with his sisters kyria Theognosta and Thouasia, great wars arose: and he grew sick through fear at the wars and died. And the court saw that St. kyrius Claudius was a child and so small that he could not manage the affairs of the realm, as the barbarians were more than the Romans. They took the brother of Ptolemy, the father of St. Claudius, whose name was Numerianus and seated him upon the throne of the Romans. So the barbarians were not content in heart because the son of the king had been taken captive and their [p. 86] cities spoiled. But when they heard that king Ptolemy, the father of St. Claudius, was dead, they rejoiced thinking there would be no king seated on the throne. They bribed seven nations to join them in the war, saying: “In as much as they slew the son of the king and laid waste our cities, we too will not spare them, till we have slain Claudius the son of the king in retribution, and ravage their lands. But behold merchants came from the Persians and told Numerianus their crafty trick: and they told him: “They have bribed seven nations to join with them”. And when Numerianus heard this, he trembled greatly, and turned to flee in secret and leave his realm because of the danger from the various barbarians. But they warned the king that he should enrol recruits of Egypt for the war. And straightway he called a general, Anastasius, and gave him a guard of soldiers to go to the south of all Egypt, saying to him: “Come, raise thy hand above my head, and swear that of all the recruits thou findest in the land of Egypt, thou wilt let none off, till we send them to the war.” And Anastasius went to the south of Egypt, and ceased not to sail on the river until he landed at a port called Paphor of Pshot, which was the land of the father of St. Theodore the General, whose festival we are celebrating today. When the general visited that place, the governor of it, whose name was Cyrus, came out to meet him, and held a great banquet for him and his soldiers. And the blessed John, the father of St. Theodore the General, was the brother of the governor’s wife: and he too came to meet the general. Now this John was comely in person, freshfaced, and a distinguished officer, and mighty to look upon. [p. 87] When the general saw him, he rejoiced greatly thinking to make him a recruit; and he set him before himself. And John was in distress and mourning; but the general gave him a bag of gold and a royal robe and a fine horse and soldiers under him. And when the blessed John saw the honour which the general gave him, he was very downcast and wept, saying: “My lord, it is not meet that thy servant take anything from thee: but it is right for us to give thee honours”. And when the general saw that he wept, he was afraid that he would flee and took him to a port and confined him.
The governor, who was the husband of John’s sister, heard that he was confined and weeping in sorrow, and besought the general for him: but the general would not let him off because of his love for him. And it came to pass that while the blessed John was confined, his sister Amphylia, the wife of the governor, was told that John her brother was taken and that they were carrying him to the war: and she arose and went to John her brother in the place where he was confined. She tore the hair of her head and they wept together, John because he would be taken to a foreign land, and his sister because she would be deprived of her brother. However there was much weeping and groaning, and a great crowd gathered round them. Then the general heard the voice of the crowd, and enquired what was happening. They told him that it was the sister of John weeping for him. Straightway he bade them bring John forth from the midst of [p. 88] them, for he feared that they would take him away. And when they brought him to the general, his sister came forth from the midst of the crowd before the general, her head uncovered; she took half of the hair of her head and cast it on her brother weeping. And Anastasius the general hid his face for her sake and said to her: “My sister, spare your nobility. By the health of the king, he shall get no harm.” But Amphylia, the sister of the blessed John, said: “My lord, my honour and glory and my nobility are my brother. My lord, if you separate me from my brother, my honour and my nobility will fall below every one. I beg you, my lord general, by the health of the king, if you desire money, my goods, my gold, my silver, my beasts, my gardens, my man servants, my maid servants and any thing that is mine, they are my brother’s. Take them, and leave me my brother. If you desire men, here are my two sons, whom I have nourished at my breast, take them and leave me my brother. Do not cause my heart this great grief.”
For all that the general did not leave him; but bound his hands till the morrow. And it happened in the night as the blessed John was confined in chains and weeping for sorrow, behold a light appeared to him, and he heard a voice saying: “John, John, cease from weeping.” John answered saying: “My lord, I weep because they entreat me evilly and take me to a foreign land, and wish to robe me of the land of my fathers.” The voice said to him: “Weep not for the land of your fathers: your seed shall inhabit it forever. The place in which you are confined shall be an abiding place for his body for ever. He will guide the ships that sail; he will chase the demons and dragons that are [p. 89] upon the earth. the place in which you are confined he will make a wine-press and a lake shall be dug in its midst for the treading out of the vintage and the blood of Christ. Now, John, weep not for the land of your fathers; nor have fear for the war. The sword will not shed blood, nor will a wound touch thy body.” The blessed John’s heart came to him; he ceased from weeping; but he marvelled how “my seed shall inhabit my land. I have not taken wife, nor begotten child. but let the will of the Lord come to pass for me”.
After this those of the city and district made warlike preparations; and brought the barbarians who dwelt in their district to slay the general, and take John from his hands. But John was told of this plan, while he was confined, and was grieved at heart greatly. He sent to Cyrus the governor, the husband of his sister, and to Amphylia his sister, saying: “What is this thing ye wish to do ? Do ye wish to slay the general ? Nay, my brethren, do not this violent deed in the presence of God, lest the king be wroth and send and destroy our city. But give place to God: we trust he will not desert us ever.” He told them what he had heard in the prison.
But on the morrow they brought the blessed John out of the prison to go with him. A number of those of his district, male and female, small and great, widow and orphan, all went with him weeping and saying: “We salute thee, our beloved brother John. All the good things thou hast done to us God pay back to thee. The fleece of thy sheep is our clothing; the growth of thy fields our food; thy wine and thy oil comfort us”. Then his sister Amphylia threw herself upon his [p. 90] neck, weeping and saying: “I salute thee, my beloved John, the light of my eyes: I salute thee, my brother who art pleasant to me, because they part me from thy sight. I salute thee and the foreign land to which they take thee. I am a woman, a weak vessel. I have not strength to go thither. I salute thee, my beloved brother: I know not what land will be thine. I gave my two children and all my wealth for thee; and they did not free thee for me. Now take the hair of my head, that when thou beholdest it, thou mayst remember me in the land to which thou goest. And may He that gave peace to Joseph in the presence of Pharao king of Egypt aforetime, give grace to thee my brother. May Jesus guide thee and his angels protect thee in every place to which thou goest.” So spake Amphylia the sister of John weeping: and the general himself wept at that hour. Then she turned to Anastasius the general and said to him: “I adjure thee, thou who takest my brother from me by violence, that thou show mercy to my brother in the hour of his sorrow. O Anastasius the general, thou art like death the spoiler of souls. Alack ! I gave thee money for my brother, and thou wouldst not let him free. Remember thou hast separated brother from orphan sister. I adjure thee by the health of the king, general, vex no more my brother in the road. I adjure thee, general, send not my brother to the war: for I have watched over him always”. So spake his sister and embraced him and kissed him, weeping.
But the general took him to the capital and the good God gave him great grace in the presence of the king and his great men, and they sent him not to the war. But the general took [p. 91] him into his house and loved him greatly, seeing the great grace in his face. He asked the king to command him to give his daughter in marriage to him: and the king bade him give her. And one day the wife of John gave birth to this great light St. Theodore the general, on the 11th of the month Choiak. And his mother Straticia said to his father: “I will call my son Theodore, that he may receive the honour and the might of Theodore the Eastern, the son of Sotericus, and that all the great men of the court do him like honour. And the blessed John said: “This is the command of God. We will call him by this name Theodore”.
Armenian Passion of St. Theodore the General (BHO 1168)
F.C. Conybeare, The Armenian Apology and Acts of Apollonius and Other Monuments of Early Christianity (London, 1896), 220-37, translates the Armenian passion of St. Theodore found in Vitae et Passiones Sanctorum Selectae ex Eclogariis, 2 vols. (Venice, 1874), vol. I, 569-81.
The Passion of St. Theodore the General
(Translation by Conybeare (1896), 220-37)
1. Unsearchable and wonderful are the heavenly gifts which the Creator has freely bestowed in miraculous wise on the ranks of His holy martyrs. Unspeakable is the patience with which they entered and won the struggle, and too varied are their virtues for it to be possible to relate them, even for those who loved them and fought beside them. Nor is it easy to tell even in metaphor of the fair seeming and brightness of the richly burgeoning wreaths and of the unfading and varied chaplets which they wove. It is hard to relate how, by their strength in martyrdom, they locked together and surrounded themselves with the shields of the Spirit, and were tried like gold which is tried in the fire. Thus they crossed over the dark sea and turbulent of this wicked life, and displayed their victory over the antagonism of the devil. None of those who are in the flesh can worthily commemorate their excellence; for the Divine Spirit alone is able to describe it. 2. Yet although it is beyond the compass of man to relate it, we must not be altogether silent. Nay, let it be told as according to the apportioning of the divine grace of the Spirit one has the ability to publish it to pious souls. In order that by means [p. 221] of the recollection of the valiant and spiritual soldiers of Christ, the children of the church may be awakened, and may aspire to enter into the pavilion of rest to which they are called, armed with the armour of God; in order that in the time of persecution, and when trials arise, they may be able to participate with those who were found to share the cross of Christ. 3. Let us then begin the commemoration of this noble martyr of Christ, the holy Theodorus, albeit we are not able to do full justice to his bravery and excellence. Yet we may tell a little out of much. We can say who he was, whence he came, and how his martyrdom began and ended, and we will relate the story of the time of his persecution. For he was not the Theodorus the Tiro, whose commemoration is held on the first sabbath of the forty days’ fast; but our saint was his nephew, and was held in high honour by the emperors from whom he received a command in the army. For he (i.e. the Tiro) was martyred under the King Maximianus, in the city of Amasia in Cappadocia; so that they were not far from one another, either in point of time or of family.
4.But in the times of the lawless and impious Emperor Licinius, a blazing storm of cruel persecution swept over the church of God, and everywhere the altars all over the Roman empire were heaped up with the molten images of devils, and [p. 222] in all places the edict of apostasy was circulated, and commands of the following kind posted up in every village and city with all sternness, to the effect that they shoud do homage to stones, and to trees fashioned by the hands of men, and that they should offer up holocausts and sacrifices to the so-called gods, and should content themselves with foul food. And those who obeyed this edict received honour and promotion from the Emperor, but those who refused to do so were compelled, and were subject to stripes and to torture, and punishment by sword and fire. For an inextricable mist of darkness and disturbance encompassed us all, for they took many of those who believed and gave thenm over to the judges, that they might confine them in dark places, and subject them to cruel and pitiless tortures, and after long tribulation die by the sword.
5. At that time there blazed forth a star of dazzling brilliancy, a lamp that scattered its radiance far and wide, and illuminated the mist and darkness of idolatry, appearing victorious over all, I mean the brave champion and soldier of the King Christ, the holy Theodorus. For when this edict of the impious and lawless Emperor Licinius went forth, that all who believed in Christ should be taken and thrown into prison, and bound and subjected to intolerable privations and tortures; then the blessed and famous witness of Christ, Theodorus, had been born of Christian and religious parents, in the village of Eukhaita. He was brought up and trained in all good discipline [p. 223], and grew in stature and wisdom, and was schooled in the teachings of religion. While he was still in the flower of youth and prime of life, fair to look upon and filled with all wisdom, he became on that account the friend and intimate of the kings and princes of that day. For in the wars of the barbarians, the saint was ever victorious and won all praise; for which he received the very highest honour in the army, and was promoted to the very highest grade of command. 6. Now some malignant satellites of the devil obtained the ear of the Emperor, and laid information that the saint was a Christian, and not only he, but his whole country and city; “for under his influence,” they said, “they have been perverted by him along with your army, and have turned away from the worship of idols, and have disobeyed your commands; they no longer keep the mysterious festivals of the gods, nor do they taste of their holy sacrifices.” 7. When the Emperor heard this, he was dumbfoundered; and, though he was full of wrath, he wavered in his counsels, and did not know how he would be able to take in his deadly net so conspicuous a man. He did not think it suitable to write and summon him to come before him, for he feared that he would see through his crafty designs, and be afraid, and disregard his commands. So he formed this plan, that he would make the conduct of the war a pretext for his coming to those regions, and so take him in the city itself. And having formed this design, the lawless prince determined to send some of his nobles [p. 224] together with a force to Heraclea, a city of Cappadocia, where the saint dwelt. And he wrote to him a letter in complimentary terms as follows: “If it should be pleasing and acceptable to you, come and see us, and do homage to our gods in the city of Nicomedia, and come with a great suite and with much pomp. But if there is any reason to prevent you, it is meet that we should come and see your district, and the city in which you dwell, for we are very desirous to see you and enjoy your good will.” And when the captains came to him, and brought the letter of command, Theodorus took and read it, and was delighted and thanked God; for he had thought already in his heart of declaring himself for the true religion, and of becoming a witness of Christ; and now on a sudden the good wil and pleasure of God was about to be really accomplished. So on that occasion he received the king’s men with great honour, and made them presents; but he excused himself from going to meet the king on the score of the requirements of the province, and begged them, and promised them riches, if they would go and persuade the Emperor to come to the city of Heraclea, bringing with him the full number of his gods. “You will behold,” he wrote, “all the population of the town and country, and they will be glad and rejoice, and will hold a great festival with sacrifice and adoration.” So the men went back to the Emperor, and gave him the answer which had been despatched to him. And this the ruler took and read, and was deceived and taken [p. 225] in by it, like an unreflecting child; for he determined to set out for those regions, thinking in his wickedness that all his designs were already accomplished. So forthwith he took a number of cavalry, and arrived at the city of Heraclea. And when the holy Theodore heard of the arrival of the Emperor, he went out to meet him with great pomp and rich suite. 8. But on that night, as he slept in his house, the saint beheld in a vision that the ceiling of his house was lifted up, and a shower of corruscating sparks of fire descended upon him; and a voice was heard saying to him: “Be strong, and of good cheer, Theodorus, for I am with thee.” And when the saint woke up, he told his dream to those who were nearest to him, and said: “God is pleased that in this place my blood should be shed for the name of Christ.” And then he arose and knelt down, and prayed; and when he had finished his prayer and wept, he thanked the Lord.
9. And then he arose, and washed the fair glory of his countenance, and put on precious raiment of byssus, and he ordered them to equip his horses in gold trappings. And then he rode out with his horses and met the Emperor. And when he beheld his ruler, he did homage to him, and after the manner of kings, he wished him well, saying, “Hail to thee, most powerful and autocratic Emperor, sent by God.” But the Emperor, when he heard this, and saw the magnanimity of the saint, instantly embraced him with much tenderness, and welcomed him fondly, and kissed him, and said: “Hail to thee, O prince, fair as the sun to look upon, for it is meet that thou also shouldst reign along with me.” And they entered together into the city along with the multitude of their men, who had gone out to meet the king; and he prepared a resting-house in the royal quarters, decorated after the manner of the palace, with canopies and imperial throne. And when the Emperor saw this he was overjoyed, and praised the city and the citizens, and he bade Theodorus sit down, and said to him: “Behold, according to the prayer that thou hast written to me, O Theodorus, I have come as the guest and recipient of thy hospitality to visit thee and thy city; and I have brought with me the most precious and the most illustrious of our gods, in order that thou mayest worship them, and offer sacrifice to them.” The holy Theodorus made answer, and said: “O victorious and great Emperor, thou hast done well in fulfilling the request of thy servant, by making us glad with thine advent; and yet more hast thou honoured us by bringing with thee thy gods, in order that all may behold them, and may be confirmed in the ordinances of religion. But I pray thy highness to rest a little from the labour of the journey, and to give me thy most illustrious gods, all of them, in order that I may take them to my house, and anoint them with fragrant oil, and offer frankincense to them, and cense them, and in order that I may prostrate myself and offer sacrifice in my own private house, and then after that may bring them out into public before all, and sacrifice; in [p. 227] order that all men, marking and beholding this, may be encouraged to emulate me in my piety.” And when the Emperor heard this, he was very satisfied and pleased with the words of the saint, and believed that which he had said. And he ordered them to bring and to give to him all his idols fashioned of gold and silver. And the saint took them, and carried them to his palace to put them to rest. But he arose that night, and he broke and ground to powder all those gods, and then he took the bits and distributed them to the poor and needy.
10.But after three days had passed, the prince commanded that they should summon before him the great Theodorus, and he said to him: “O most honourable and illustrious of the princes who were before myself, and thou who hast been still more promoted and honoured by my own majesty, now therefore give proof of thy enthusiasm and love which thou hast towards my gods and towards us. Bring a sacrifice and offer it to them before the whole people, in order that they may all behold thee, and may fulfil our edict with all readiness.” But whilst the saint was on the point of making answer to the Emperor, a certain man stood forward who was a person of authority, and whose name was Maxentenes, and said: “O noble prince, thou hast not known and understood the treason of this impious general, nor how he hath falsely deceived thy majesty in respect of [p. 228] thy all-victorious gods; for yesterday night, going forth from my quarters, I beheld a certain poor man, who was going along full of joy, holding in his hand the golden head of our great queen Artemis.”
When the Emperor heard this, he was much enraged, and stood agape and could not believe what he heard; but he said to the saint: “Is this that they said true ?” The saint made answer and said: “Yes, it is true and just, I deny it not; for I have done justly what I have done. For surely if thy gods have not been able to help themselves, how will they be able to help thee ?” Then the countenance of the Emperor changed colour with rage, and filled with wrath he said: “Woe to me, for I have been deceived like a little child, and have been turned to ridicule before the eyes of all. And now I know not what I shall do or how I shall act; for I who am emperor and ruler of all these forces and of the world, have come along with all my forces to be deceived at the feet of this miscreant; I have become the shame of the province and of the city, losing all my victorious gods.” And when the holy Theodorus saw the Emperor filled with such folly, he laughed in his soul, and said: “O thou senseless demon, filled full with all lawlessness, didst thou not take note beforehand, that I was a Christian and a servant of Christ; how could I be deceived by thy deceitful and pernicious edicts ? But in order that thou mayest know that thou art truly tricked like a simple child, therefore have I shown [p. 229] unto thee the weakness of thy gods, in order to put to shame thy impiety. Thou art puffed up with thy empty and transitory greatness, and thou hast not any hope or expectation of the greatness which passes not and of the light which is eternal, and thou knowest not Him who gave thee thy temporary greatness; but thou art infatuated by the crafty illusion of the devil, and darkened so that thou mayest not see the light of the glory of the only-born Son of God, and in the presumption with which the evil one inspires thee, thou dost not know what thou sayest. But I hold vain all this glory of created things, which estrange a man from God, in order that I may inherit immortal life, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and which God has prepared for those who love Him. But for thee and for thy material gods isa reserved the fire eternal, which is made ready and kept for Satan and his hosts.”
The Emperor said: “O insolent miscreant, Theodorus, I could tolerate thy insults to me, for as regards obedience to myself, thou shalt be reformed; but why hast thou insulted the gods ?” The saint made answer and said: “Herein is the very demonstration of thy want of wit, for thou beholdest the nothingness of thy molten images of demons, and yet after this thou hast the rashness to give them the name of gods, who are like horses and mules, for there is no understanding in them, hewn out by the hands of mechanics.” 11. And the Emperor was filled with wrath, and said: “Henceforth I will not tolerate thee, but I [p. 230] give thee over to miserable torture.” And he ordered the executioners to strip the saint, and to stretch out his hands on fourfold pinions, and to scourge him with green switches, without spare, upon shoulders and chest and stomach; and they scourged the blessed one, so that the godless torturers were wearied and faint. And they carded the flesh of the saint with their cruel blows, and the blood poured forth from him. And then the Emperor ordered him to be smitten without spare on the neck with leaden hammers. And as they smote him, he ordered that all that was remaining of the body of the holy martyr should be scraped with iron needles, and then that fire should be brought and that they should burn all the wounds in his body. So they burned and roasted his whole body according to the command of the Emperor. But the holy martyr shewed yet more patience than before amid the throes of his cruel anguish, and thanked God that his desires were fulfilled; and as if he reckoned for nothing all this intolerable torture, he said to the Emperor: “O thou minister and servant of Satan, and enemy of all righteousness, dost that not see that thy torturers flag, and that thy foolhardy pride is humbled, and thy violence overcome, and thy father the devil Satan is put to shame; and however much my outer man is destroyed by thy torture, so much the more is my inner man renewed unto eternal life ?”
But the Emperor was very wroth, and ordered his soldiers to take the saint to prison, in order [p. 231] that he might deliberate about him, by what death he should slay him. And when they had cast him into prison after a few days he ordered him to be brought before him; and he tempted him with many words and questioned him, but yet could not persuade the blessed one. So then he ordered them to crucify him, and he made the entire number of his army shoot at him with arrows. But the martyr of Christ with great gladness went after the soldiers, and when he came to the cross they bound his hands and feet, and took and fastened him upon the tree. And a number of soldiers shot at him with arrows, and hit the face and eyes of the saint, But the champion of Christ endured it patiently, and gave thanks to God, and reckoned for nothing all the anguish and pain. And after that they came and mutilated his manhood, and all the multitude that stood round wept, all of them. 12. And I Abgar, the slave and secretary of the saint, who had received his command to write down all, point by point, when I beheld such cruelty, I threw away my paper from my hands, and I went and fell at his feet, weeping bitterly; and the saint, when he saw my tears, said to me in a gentle but weak voice: “O Abgar, grieve not, nor be remiss in thy task, but accomplish that which thou hast begun, and obey me yet a little longer that thou mayest see the end of my consummation, and write it down.” And when he had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven, and said: “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, my God, [p. 232] who in Thy unspeakable goodness dost control and arrange all things; who also by the hand of Thy only-born Son, and true and Holy Spirit, hast bestowed upon me strength to bear; for Thou, Lord, didst erewhile make promise to me, saying: “I have not abandoned thee, but for all time I will be with thee, and will save thee;” and now, O my God, wherefore hast Thou forsaken me, and hast withrawn from me Thy pity ? For the wild animals have torn my flesh because I loved Thy name; the pupils of mine eyes have been put out, and my flesh has been consumed with fire, and my fingers have been crushed, and my face has been altered so that it is no longer like that of a human being, and my soul reels and trembles with the fear of the tortures of the cross. And now, O my Lord and my God, for Thee have I borne all this, being given up to fire and sword, and to all anguish. Wherefore I beseech Thee receive my spirit forthwith, and refresh me according to Thy good pleasure, for Thou art all powerful.”
And when he had said this he was silent, for all the members of the flesh of the martyr were weak, and the hollow of his stomach was lacerated and crushed because of the harrowing and of the tortures inflicted. But the lawless and impious Licinius, thinking that the saint was dead, ordered his guards to remain there, in order that for a whole day and a night his body might be exposed upon the cross. 13. But in the first watch of the night, an angel was sent from God, and took him down from the cross and made whole all his body, and said: “Rejoice and be strong, for the Lord was with thee and is with thee, and shall be for ever. Why therefore didst thou say that thou wast abandoned by Me ? Forasmuch as the course of thy martyrdom is accomplished, and thou comest to the Saviour Jesus, and shalt receive the indestructible crown in the kingdom of the just.” And when he had said this, the angel rose up to heaven; but the holy Theodorus, beholding his body entirely healed of its wounds, lifted his hands to heaven, and magnified the Lord and said: “I magnify Thee, my God and my King, and I bless Thy name for ever and ever.” And after praying for a long while, he uttered the Amen.
14. And at dawn early the Emperor called a certain twain of his nobles, and said: “Go ye along with a force of men, and take down from the cross the wretched body of yonder ill-starred impostor, and drag it before me, in order that I may command it to be placed in a coffin of lead and cast into the depths of the sea, lest the christians should snatch it away, and take it and honour it according to their custom.” And when the captains had gone, and while they were yet afar off, they beheld the cross empty and void of the body of the holy martyr, and they began to gape with astonishment. Antiochus said to Patricius: “Verily it is true, that which the Christians say, that Christ after three days arose from the dead, for now we behold this word of theirs literally fulfilled.” But Patricius ran to the cross and beheld the holy martyr Theodorus sitting [p. 234] near to the cross with his body entirely healed, and he began to tell the multitude of the great miracles of God which had happened unto him, so that both cried out with a loud voice, and said: “Great is the God of the Christians, and there is none other God but He.” And they came and threw themselves at the feet of the saint along with the soldiers who were with them, in number eighty and two, and they said: “We too are Christians, and servants of Christ; we beseech thee, receive us who have gone astray through ignorance from the path of truth, and pray in our behalf to God the Creator, in order that He may make us worthy of the compassion of His grace.” 15. When the Emperor heard this, he was exceeding wroth, and ordered the Consul whose name was Cestus, to take three hundred of his soldiery, and to go and behead them. But when they had gone, they too, by the favour of God, beheld the miracle of God, and believed like the others in Christ. And there was there a crowd and great multitude who all cried with loud voice and said: “Great is the God of the Christians; He that hath done such wonders, He alone is God. Come then, let us stone the lawless Licinius; for God is our Emperor, the God whom Theodorus preached.” And when this disturbance arose, they began to raise a tumult one with another, and there was much shedding of blood in the conflict of the rabble. But a certain evildoer [p. 235] whose name was Leander drew his sword and rushed upon the holy Theodorus; but the Consul saw this and drew back his hand, and delivered the saint from him, and slew the lawless Leander. But another, whose name was Merpas, came forward amidst the crowd, and threw himself upon the Consul, and drawing his sword slew him. 16. But the blessed saint, when he saw the disturbance and riot of the crowd, went into the midst of them, and by his entreaties he appeased the crowd; and the multitude took the saint with them and returned to the city with great joy. And as they passed and came near to the doors of the prison, in which were confined all who were in bonds, these all cried out from prison and said: “Pity us, servant of God on high.” But the crowd, when they heard it, said: “Command us that we at once pull down the doors of the prison, and set free them that are confined therein.” But the saint restrained them from carrying out their counsel; and he himself approached the door and prayed to God, and made upon it the sign of the cross. And of its own accord it opened wide, and their bonds were loosened, and those who were confined came forth and threw themselves at his feet, and gave thanks to God and His saint. But he said to them: “Go ye in peace each to his own place”; and many other miracles did God accomplish by means of him, for the sick and the suffering and they who were possessed by devils were healed by his prayers.
17. And when the impious Licinius saw that [p. 236] all the people of the Greeks repudiated and cast from themselves the worship of the gods, and believed in Christ, he was very wroth, and sent a force of soldiers, that they might go without the knowledge of the multitude and cut off the head of the saint; and they went and at once executed his command, cutting off the head of the blessed one with a sword. And thus ended the victorious and mighty champion of Christ, the holy Theodorus, in the month of August, on the twenty-seventh day thereof, to the glory of God.
But after the martyrdom of the saint, Abgar, his slave, according to his command as he had been aforetime commanded to do, took the body of the saint and wrapped it in clean linen with fragrant spices, and they laid it in a coffin and took it and laid it to rest in his paternal inheritance in the village of Eukhaita. 18. And the multitude of the people of Heraclea followed the relics of the saint with lighted tapers and fragrant incense and spiritual songs, according to the custom of the Christians, and laid it in its resting place. And many miracles were accomplished by God by means of the tomb in which reposes until to-day the relis of the saint, for those who approach it with faith. For on the day of the commemoration of the martyr, there comes a multitude of people of all races, who keep his memory with great honour and with offerings, for God glorifies those who glorify Him. 19. For this saint outshone the sun in splendour and with inextinguishable brilliancy lit up a fire of virtue [p. 237] by his unblemished and correct faith, and repulsed the lawless ruler with all his servants. He kept his confession unshaken in the sure hope, and in his own life glorified the living God. He as martyr shared in the cross and in the death of our Lord, who of his own free will submitted to torture and death, and, following Him, offered up his life as a fragrant offering and pleasing to Him. For his true death was an expiation for angels and men, a lifting of the curse and an act of reconciliation to God. By the shedding of his blood he extinguished the folly of the idolaters and became a pillar of the faith, a seal of the Church, a door to those who would enter into heaven. He it is whom we honour by bearing him in memory and by conducting his festival with splendour; writing down the history of his martyrdom and handing it on the generations to come, that we may be ourselves witnesses to him who bore witness, until we all come to Christ who appoints the lists of martyrdom. He in our behalf for ever intercedes with the merciful God, that unto us also may be opened the door of pity, so that we may enjoy with him the goods which have no end. Those then who in faith and fear and with all goodwill keep the commemoration of the martyr of Christ, whatsoever they ask of the Lord, it shall be unto them; and they shall be partakers of the reward of their works along with all the saints in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
The Passion of St. Typasius (BHL 8354)
1. In the time of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian Christianity had been a small religion still, and wars had sprung up throughout almost the entire world. In eastern regions a certain Narses by name had assumed despotic rule, Carausius had rebelled in Britain, Achilleus was laying waste Egypt and Libya, and in the Gallic regions also the Bacaudae were cruelly raging. Moreover in the province of Mauretania Sitifensis the natives, who are called the Quinquegentiani and had always been peaceful, were performing acts of brigandage. The resources of the provincials were plundered, and all the land-owners and inhabitants were ruined. Many governors had set out against these brigands, but all had been conquered and perished with their great armies, to such an extent that because of their great fear no comes would dare to visit the region, and those duces who were sent to the province of Sitifensis either feigned illness or pretended that they were afraid of shipwreck and resided on the islands neighbouring Italy. So desperate was the situation that Africa seemed to the Romans to have been lost to their empire. Therefore Diocletian, who was hard pressed by the havoc of so many wars, promoted Maximian from the rank of Caesar to Augustus, and sent him to Sitifensis against the Quinquegentiani, to call all the soldiers to help by his edict.
2. At that time the most blessed Typasius, who used to serve among his fellow-soldiers for a well-deserved pay, had scorned the worldly way of life, and had surrendered himself totally to Christian devotion, so that for the rest of his life there would never be any gossip at all about him among his neighbours or fellow-soldiers as a result of some trivial matter or dispute. He was forced into active service again by his praepositus, and along with other vexillarii went to battle. But the day before the battle the emperor Maximianus had wished to make a donative to the soldiers. That night the angel Gabriel visited most blessed Typasius and advised him one after the other of all the things that were going to happen. Morning came, and when Maximianus Augustus was making the role-call on the parade-ground and the name of the most blessed Typasius was read out loud, he declined to accept the gold from the hand of Maximianus and declared that he was a soldier of Christ, When Maximianus became annnoyed at him, holy Typasius responded, “Do not be agitated, honoured emperor. If you release me to serve Christ, you will both overcome those barbarians without a struggle, and within forty days victory will be reported not only from the East and Gaul, but also from Britain and Egypt. Maximian Augustus said, “You can have what you want, if you fulfil your promise.” Immediately he ordered him to be placed under guard, so that he might pay the penalty if what he had predicted should not prove true. The praepositus of the cuneus grabbed him straight-away and cast him in irons.
3. On the next day when Maximian was out hunting with seven riders, a wild ass rose up in front of him from the wood. When he was stubbornly giving chase, he fell upon the barbarians’ front-line. But, in order to fill the words of the most blessed Typasius, by his own hand with a few others he killed a multitude of the enemy and put all the rest to flight. The Quinquegentiani immediately sent ambassadors to him in order to seek peace. They accepted harsh terms and surrendered hostages. Then, when the rebels had been crushed and peace had been made, Maximian ordered Typasius to be kept under keen military guard without harm until the 40th day. Thus within those 40 days the victories of the emperor Diocletian were reported from all those provinces where wars had raged. And immediately Maximian Augustus ordered most blessed Typasius to be brought to him and he gave to him an honourable discharge with the whole army as witness.
4. When he had left the army in this manner holy Typasius returned home. He put aside his weapons and military belt and built a monastery for himself on his land where he remained for a long time. So Diocletian and Maximian rejoiced in their rule when the native tribes had been defeated. But after some years Maximian forgot what great divine favour had been granted to him through most blessed Typasius and sent an edict to Africa that the churches should be demolished, the texts of divine law burned, that the priests and people should offer sacrifices of incense, and that all veterans should be recalled to military service. At that time holy Typasius was living alone in the monastery which he had built for himself. Then the praepositus saltus and the decurio dragged him out, along with the military belt which he had put aside, and his shield and spears from the same store-room, and handed him over to Claudius who was then dux of the province of Mauretania Caesariensis.
5. When the comes Claudius had seen him, he said to the praepositus and the decurio, “Why have you brought before my eyes this man with his mournful attire ?” The decurion replied, “Typasius used to serve in our vexillatio, but he won an honourable discharge from Maximian Augustus in the province of Sitidensis. He laid up his weapons in his house and built for himself a house in the desert which he inhabited alone. Recently there came a command from our emperor Diocletian and Maximian that all veterans were to be recalled to their former standards; and we summoned Typasius to return to military service, but he refused. Moreober, he describes himself as a Christian, and scornfully refused to offer sacrifice to the Gods as had been commanded. So we have brought him to your authority in order that he might serve in the army and offer sacrifice to the gods.” The comes Claudius asked, “Why have you donned that black garb ?” The comes Claudius replied, “This clothing is not black but white, Christians wear sackcloth in order to win remission for sinners. For it is written, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they will be consoled.”” The comes Claudius said, “Put aside that nonsense, and return to your victorious standards in obedience to the commands of the emperors.” Saint Typasius rsponded, “No-one returns to battle after victory, I have conquered this material world, and have enrolled my name among the servants of Christ. I fight for Christ, I serve Christ, and, if you want to vent your fury upon me, I suffer for Christ. The comes Claudius said, “You know that deserters who abandon the standards get thrown to the beasts.” Saint Typasius replied, “I am not a deserter; for as all my fellow citizens know, I have served blamelessly. I received an honourable discharge with the promise of the emperor Maximian.” The comes Claudius said, “But you were released by the laws of the emperor. He can change what he wanted then. He himself, as you say, gave you an honourable discharge; he has now ordered on pain of punishment that you return with all veterans to active military service.” Holy Typasius responded, “I am a soldier of Christ; I cannot serve in your army.” The comes Claudius said, “Sacrifice to the gods.” Saint Typasius responded, “I offer the sacrifice of praise to Christ.His praise is always on my lips. For I do not worship statues of wood and stone.” Claudius said, “I do not know what despair has led you to scorn the commands of our emperors. Do what our emperors the Augusti have commanded and return to military duty, lest other deserters be given something to fear by the example of your death.” Saint Typasius replied, “I have already told you, I am a soldier of Christ, and I will not return to that worldly way of life.” The comes Claudius said, “What need is there for talk ? Let him put on his belt and take up his weapons.” When his belt was put on him by soldiers, and spears were placed in his hands, his belt was immediately torn into pieces, and his spears were shattered.
6. When this happened, the comes became very much afraid, and ordered him to be taken into custody. Some time afterwards, while the comes Claudius was travelling around the towns for the assizes, he accompanied saint Typasius on the journey, and was amazed that although he had been kept in custody for so long he was unmarked by the starvation or squalor. Suddenly the strator, seized by the devil, fell from his horse, and began violently shaking and foaming at the mouth. When all fled him, holy Typasius ran up to him and made the sign of the cross with his saving finger upon his forehead; and the strator was immediately freed from the devil, got up, and began to kiss the knees of holy Typasius. And from that day onward the comes Claudius always sent to him from his table the choicest food. When saint Typasius received this, he did not gorge himself, but he gave it all to the poor.
7. Finally Claudius arrived at his destination, and when he was on his way to the public assemblya disturbance arose among the soldiers because when all the rest were making a sacrifice of incense saint Typasius alone scorned the imperial command. The praepositus Doncius and the decurion Lucius were the instigators of this disturbance because they were very insistent to the dux Claudius that he should force saint Typasius to offer sacrifice. When the comes Claudius had delayed for a long time and could no longer contain the disturbance among the soldiers, he ordered saint Typasius to be brought out of jail to him. When this had been done, Claudius said, “Typasius, take thought for your life. Sacrifice to the gods and obey the imperial laws.” Saint Typasius replied, “I will not.” The comes Claudius replied, “Unless you do, you will die.” Saint Typasius said, “I will gladly die in the name of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit because ny life belongs to Christ and to die for Him is my gain.” So with sorrowing heart the comes Claudius read hi s sentence out loud, “I have supported the veteran Typasius for a long time in order that he might return to military service and offer victims to the Roman gods. And when he stubbornly refused, I put to one side my judicial authority and encouraged him lest he should perish. But because he has continued in that perverse superstition, and has refused to obey the commands of our Augusti, I have resolved to punish him with the sword, that by his death all may learn to obey the laws of the emperors.” Saint Typasius lifted his eyes to heaven and spoke thus, “I thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, because you have judged me your servant worthy to be freed from this world.” Thus he was led forth outside the city by soldiers and beheaded and buried in the same place. And above his burial mound they placed his shield. According to their religiosity, all the Christians used to break off and take small fragments from this shield, and when these were applied to the weak, the paralytic, the possessed, and all who were suffering, they were cured.
8. Then the praepositus Doncius and the decurio Lucius, who had been the causes of the disturbance which had resulted in the death of the martyr Typasius, while they were standing before the dux Claudius, suddenly burned with fever and pain. They lost control of their limbs, their bowels burst, their eyes fell out, and they died. This happened so that all peoples might curse their death, and cry out that the holy martyr Typasius had been defended by divine retribution. Moreover, a short time afterwards Our Saviour Jesus Christ brought an end to the reign of Diocletian and Maximian in order to avenge the churches and his struggling martyrs. For as often as they put on their crowns and purple robes, they were immediately greatly distressed, so that they were not able to eat, sleep. breathe, get off their kneees or live life to its fullest. But as often as they had been robbed of their health, the invalides gained it back again. Moreover, when they realised that they had been wasting away for a long time as a result of this sickness, of their own accord they put aside their imperial regalia – a thing which has never been done before or since – and surrendered these to their successors. While others ruled, they lived as private citizens on their estates. But Maximian, who had been the principal architect of this persecution, was found out by his daughter Fausta while he was preparing a trap for his son-in-law the emperor Constantine and pretending to be at odds with his son Maxentius. She reported his trap to her husband, and Maximian fled to Marseilles where he was caught. He was executed at the command of Constantine for this reason, that all might learn from this punishment of the vindication of the holy martyr Typasius. Typasius died on 11 January. At his defence were present God, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Theirs is honour and glory, power and strength for ever and ever. Amen.
The Passion of St. Victor (BHL 8580)
1. When the impious Maximianus was ruling as emperor there was a great persecution of Christians in the city of Milan. There was there a certain soldier by the name of Victor, Moorish by race, who was very well known to the emperor. Then his ministers made a report to the emperor saying, “O Most Clement Lord and Emperor, Victor the Moor has become a Christian and blasphemes against our gods, saying that they are demons. The emperor was angered and ordered that Victor be brought before him; and he said to him, “Victor my soldier, what do you think that you are lacking that you have become a Christian ?” Victor responded, “I have not become a Christian just recently, but have been one since my youth.” The emperor Maximianus said, “You are a Christian, then, so you clearly say ?” Victor replied, “I certainly am a Christian, and I adore Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God who was born of the Virgin Mary. I believe in my heart, and I never stop praising him with my mouth.” Then the emperor Maximianus was filled with anger and ordered that he be thrown into the prison which was near the Circus and on the route to the Ticinese Gate, and that he be closely guarded, saying to him, “Go Victor, think to yourself how you can escape those terrible tortures which will viciously rip you unless you offer sacrifice”. Thus he was sent to prison and spent six days there, and the emperor ordered that neither bread nor water were to be given to him. On the seventh day the emperor Maximianus ordered a platform to be readied for him in the hippodrome of the Circus, and that Saint Victor be brought to him. He said to him, “What is it, Victor, what have you decided about your salvation ?” Saint Victor replied, “Christ is my salvation and my strength. I am nourished by the spirit of him who I have received into my body.”
2. Then the emperor Maximianus was filled with anger and ordered that clubs be brought, and that Victor be stretched out in his sight and beaten. He commanded that the torturers should go beyond the third mark of the rack, and should shout at him, “Sacrifice to the Gods whom the emperor and everyone wor- ship.” When Victor had been beaten the emperor ordered that he be set up straight, and said to him, “Victor, hear my advice, yield to and serve those gods: because no-one can better serve them than you, especially since you are distinguished by your grey hairs”. Saint Victor replied, “Blessed David, king and prophet, teaches, “All the gods of the nations are demons, but our God made the heavens: if, therefore, they are called demons from the start, how will I worship them ?” Then the emperor Maximianus said to him, “Behold I give to you the rank of magister militum, much gold and silver, retinues and property, only sacrifice to the gods whom we worship”. Victor replied, “I have already said, and will say it again: I will not sacrifice to the demons but I offer myself as a sacrifice of praise to God: because it is written “everyone who sacrifices to demons and not to God will be destroyed.”” The emperor’s consiliarius Anolinus said, “Victor, rewards have been promised to you by the most clement emperor: why don’t you sacrifice to the gods whom the emperor adores, those to whom he bows his neck ?” Saint Victor replied, “I do not accept the rewards promised by you, but I accept strength from my God every- day.”
3. Then, angered, the emperor Maximianus ordered that he be thrown into prison again, the prison near the Roman Gate. When he was there for three days the emperor ordered that he be brought forth from the prison, and said to him, “Victor, sacrifice to those gods whose real divinity proves them to be gods”. Saint Victor replied, “I do not sacrifice to the gods of the pagans: for it would be shameful for me to desert what I learned in the sanctification of my baptism, even if in a situation of necessity and under the compulsion of an evil man, you. I will not. Do what you will do, for I know that he who fights on my behalf is stronger than you.” Then the emperor Maximianus and his Con- siliarius Anolinus ordered clubs to be brought, and Victor to be stretched out. They ordered that the torturers should go beyond the fifth mark of the rack, and should shout at him, “Sacrifice to the gods whom the emperor and everyone worship.” Then Saint Victor, although he was in the middle of his punishment, did not show any feeling of pain but prayed thus to the Lord, saying, “Lord Jesus Christ by whose bread I am nourished today, my king and my God, help me in the midst of these tortures.” Then the emperor Maximianus said to him, “Victor, take thought for your life and sacrifice to the gods whom all adore. For I swear by the gods, by my welfare and by the government of the state, that unless you sacrifice through various punishments I will make you breathe your last breath. And do not hope that if you are punished by me that the christians will make my servant one of their martyrs: for I will order that you be flung where your body will never be found.” Saint Victor replied, “I am not sacrificing: do what seems best to you: you will not make a servant of yours breathe his last as you said, but a servant of Christ.” Then the emperor Maximianus, angered because Victor had replied in this manner, ordered that he be thrown into the prison near the Roman Gate again, and that his legs be stretched apart on a slab.
4. When Victor had been let out from there, the Consiliarius Anolinus sent messengers to him saying, “Go and say to Victor “Fellow, you have badly given up hope of your life, take thought for your safety, and do not further provke your emperor to anger. Hear my advice, sacrifice to our gods and seek from the emperor whatever honour you wish: for by the gods and the welfare of the emperor you are readying many torments for yourself.”” Saint Victor said to those who came to him, “Go and tell Anolinus. I do not sacrifice to the gods of the pagans because scripture teaches us that all those who worship idols and glory in their statues will be destroyed. I worship the living and true God that I may live forever.” When this had been reported to Anolinus it was reported to the emperor also. Both were extremely angry. On the next day the emperor Maximianus ordered him to be led out of prison, and Anolinus said to him, “Is your heart so stubborn that you will not listen to the commands of the emperor and sacrifice ?” Saint Victor replied, “I do not sacrifice to gods which are unclean and senseless.”Then the emperor ordered that all kinds of instruments of torture be brought before him, and he said to him, “Do you see, Victor, what great torments await you if you do not sacrifice ?” Saint Victor replied, “Those torments which you wish to inflict upon me are nothing: but greater torments will be prepared for you by my god on the day of righteous judgement.” Then the emperor Maximianus, taking it badly that Victor had openly insulted him, ordered lead to be brought forward, melted, and poured over the whole of Victor’s body. And when he was being covered in this way, Victor prayed thus to the Lord, saying, “O Lord Jesus Christ, for whose name I endure these things, help me and free me, just as you freed unharmed the three boys from the midst of the burning furnace, and confounded the tyrant: send an aide now in that manner, and free your servant to the embarassment of Maxi- mianus and his lackeys.” And there immediately appeared an angel of the Lord who made the lead as cold as spring-water, and it did not burn any part of Victor’s body. Then, stretching out his hands, Blessed Victor gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “I thank you, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, that you deigned to pity your servant, and sent your holy angel who cooled the lead and soothed with the ointment of your mercy the wounds which the wicked Maximianus inflicted upon me.” Then Maximianus and all those who were present were amazed that Victor’s body had not been burned. Then Saint Victor said, “I thank you, Lord God, Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, you who cooled the lead and enabled me to overcome the terrible tortures; do not allow me, I beg you, to be overcome by those men.”
5. Then the emperor Maximianus ordered that he be led to the Vercelline Gate: and while they awaited the emperor’s commands they paused there. Then the soldiers who were guarding Saint Victor fell asleep, and rising Victor fled and hid himself in a stable in front of the theatre. Then the soldiers rose and pursued him, and finding a lone woman they questioned her, asking “Did you not see a white-haired man with torn clothing come this way ?” The woman replied, and said, “I did see a white-haired man with torn clothing flee this way.” Then the soldiers continued their pursuit along the road which was named after the stables, and they arrived in front of the theatre; and entering the stables they found Saint Victor hidden in front of the horses. Then the soldiers assaulted him and brought him outside. When Maximianus heard that Victor had fled he was furious with his soldiers, and he ordered other soldiers to take them outside the city to a place called the Garden of Philippus. The emperor himself strolled about in the hippodrome of the circus, and sent runners to Victor, saying “Go and tell Victor “you have despaired for your life, and you are not willing to offer sacrifice: by the gods, if you do not sacrifice I will sentence you to capital punishment.”” To these Victor replied, “Go and tell your emperor “do quickly what you are about to do because I want to receive my reward from God, the reward for which I suffer these things, and because it is time: if it should please him who has given me my soul and spirit.”” Then the emperor Maximianus ordered his servants to be called, and he told them that Victor was to be led to a small wood named The Elms, where he the emperor had a garden, and that he was to be beheaded there. And when Saint Victor was being brought there, he said to the soldiers who were bringing him, “Tell the emperor Maximianus that he will die this year, and that when he is dead no grave will accept him unless his legs are broken.” When he had said these things they reached the place, and Victor made a speech, saying, “I thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, that you have not separated me from your saints, my fellow citizens, Nabor and Felix. I bless and thank you forever. Amen.” When the speech was complete his head was cut off by a servant.
6. Then the emperor ordered that no-one should bury his body in order that it might be eaten by the wild animals. And after six days the emperor sent his quaestor with soldiers in order to see if it had been eaten by the beasts and serpents. They went and found Victor’s body intact, in no part damaged, and two beasts guarding it, one at his head and the other at his feet. They returned and reported to the emperor. Then the emperor ordered that the body should be buried. After permission had been given to bury the martyr the saintly and most blessed bishop Maternus went for it, and found two beasts, one guarding his head and the other guarding his feet. The body itself was as it had been left at the very hour of execution. But the beasts, when they saw the saintly bishop Maternus, gave way; as long as they had stood there the body had been protected. Maternus wrapped the corpse in linen, brought it not far from the little wood, and buried it in peace. Then Anolinus the consiliarius ordered all the exceptores in the palace to be seized, and made them swear by their gods that if any of them had any written record no-one would conceal it. Then they all swore by the gods and by the safety of the emperor that no-one would conceal such, and all the papers were brought forward, and Anolinus had them burned before him by a servant. This greatly pleased the emperor. Saint Victor was beheaded on 8 May, and buried by the bishop Saint Maternus on 14 May, during the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.