22 January 2010

The Monk-Martyr Anastasias the Persian

from the Synaxarion:

The Monk-Martyr Anastasias the Persian was the son of a Persian sorcerer named Babo. As a pagan, he had the name Magundates and served in the armies of the Persian emperor Chosroes II, who in a victorious war against the Greeks in 614 ravaged the city of Jerusalem and carried away to Persia the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord. Great miracles occurred from the Cross of the Lord, and the Persians were astonished. The heart of young Magundates blazed up with the desire to learn in detail more about this sacred object. Asking everyone about the Holy Cross, the youth learned, that upon it the Lord Himself endured crucifixion for the salvation of mankind. He became acquainted with the truths of the Christian faith in the city of Chalcedon, where for a certain while the army of Chosroes was situated. He was baptized with the name Anastasias, and then accepted monasticism and dwelt for seven years in monastic works and efforts in one of the Jerusalem monasteries.

Reading about the acts of the holy martyrs, Saint Anastasias was inspired with the desire to imitate them. A mysterious dream in particular urged him to do this, which he had on Great Saturday, the day before the feast of the Resurrection of Christ. Having fallen asleep after his daily tasks, he beheld a radiant man, giving him a golden chalice filled with wine, with the words "take hold and drink". Driving from the chalice given him, he sensed an inexplicable delight. Saint Anastasias then perceived that this vision was a portent of his own martyr's end. He went secretly from the monastery to Palestinian Caesarea. There they arrested him for being a Christian and brought him to trial. The governor tried every which way to sway Saint Anastasias into a renunciation of Christ, threatening him with tortures and death and promising him honours and earthly blessings. But the saint remained unyielding. Then they subjected him to torture: they beat at him with canes, they lacerated his knees, they hung him up by the hands and tied an heavy stone to his feet, they exhausted him with confinement, and then wore him down with heavy work in the stone-quarry with other prisoners.

Finally, the governor summoned Saint Anastasias and demanded he say only the words: "I am not a Christian", promising him freedom. The holy martyr answered: "Let me be with this. Neither before thee, nor before others wilt I renounce my Lord, neither openly nor secretly even in sleep, and no one nowhere and in no way can compel me to do this while in my right mind". Then by order of the emperor Chosroes, they strangled the holy Martyr Anastasias (+ 628). After the death of Chosroes, the relics of the Monk-Martyr Anastasias were transferred to Palestine, to the Anastasias monastery.

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