November 18th (XII - 1)
Icon of Great Martyr Plato, Martyr Romanus, and St. Anastasios the New Martyr
Martyrs Platon (or Plato, + 302 or 306), Romanos the Deacon and the Lad Barulas (+ 303). Martyrs Zaccheios, Deacon of Gadara, and Alpheios, Church-Reader of Caesarea (+ 303). MonkMartyr Anastasias the New (+ 1764).
The Holy Martyr Platon (Plato), brother of the holy Martyr Antiochos the Physician (Comm. 16 July), was born at the city of Ancyra in Galatia. While still a youth he left home and went through the cities, inspiredly preaching the Word of God to pagans, amazing his audience with the persuasiveness and beauty of his speech, and his profound knowledge of Greek learning. Because of his preaching he was arrested and brought for trial to the temple of Zeus before the governor Agrippina. At first the judge attempted by flattery to sway the saint into a renunciation of Christ. He assured the youth, that he might be on a par of intellect with the greatest of the philosophers Plato, if he but worshipped also the pagan gods. To this Saint Platon answered, that the wisdom of the philosopher, although great, was but ephemeral and limited, whereas the true, eternal and unbounded wisdom comprised the Gospel teachings. Then the judge as the reward for renunciation promised to give him as wife his beautiful daughter, but in case of refusal threatened him with torture and death. Saint Platon replied, that his choice was a temporal death for the sake of eternal life. The patience of the governor was exhausted, and he gave orders to mercilessly beat the martyr, and then send him off to prison.
When they led Saint Platon off to prison, he turned to the people, gathered about the temple, he called on all not to forsake the Christian faith. Seven days later they again led the Martyr Platon for trial before Agrippina in the temple of Zeus, where they had the implements of torture already assembled: boiling cauldrons, red-hot iron and sharp hooks. The judge offered the martyr a choice: to either offer sacrifice to the pagan gods or to feel on himself the effects of these implements of torture. Again the saint steadfastly refused to worship idols, and after his tortures they threw him in prison for 18 more days without bread or water. But seeing that this did not shake the martyr, they offered him in exchange for his life and freedom but to pronounce the words "great god Apollo". "I want not to sin by word", -- answered the martyr. By order of Agrippina the holy Martyr Platon was then beheaded (+ 302 or 306).
The Holy Martyr Romanos was deacon at a church in Palestinian Caesarea. During one of the persecutions against Christians he resettled at Antioch, where he encouraged Christians in the faith by his example and fervent preaching.
When the Antioch governor Asklepiades was considering the destruction of the Christian temple, Saint Romanos called out the believers to stand up for their sanctuary. He persuaded them, that if they managed to protect the church, then down here on earth would be rejoicing, in the Church Militant, and if they were to perish in defense of the church, there would still be rejoicing in the Heavenly Church Triumphant. Seeing such a firm resolve amongst the people, the governor did not dare to carry out his plans.
A certain while afterwards, when a pagan celebration had started in the city and many people from the surroundings had come to Antioch, Saint Romanos began denouncing the idol-worship and called on all to follow Christ. They arrested him and subjected him to torture. During the time of tortures the martyr saw in the crowd the holy Christian Lad Barulas and, having directed the governor to him, said: "The young lad is smarter than thee, in thine old age, since that he doth know the True God. Thou however dost worship mere idols". The governor Asklepiades gave orders to bring the boy to him. To all the questions of the governor, Barulas firmly and without fear confessed is faith in Christ, the True God. Asklepiades in a rage gave orders to fiercely whip the Martyr Barulas, and then behead him. Before his death the holy lad asked his mother, who was present at the execution, to give him something to drink, but the mother quieted him down to endure all the torments for the Lord Jesus Christ. She herself put his head of her son onto the block, and after the execution buried him (+ 303).
The Martyr Romanos was sentenced to burning, but a sudden gust of rain extinguished the fire. The saint began glorifying Christ and insulting the pagan gods. The governor gave orders to cut out his tongue, but even deprived of his tongue Saint Romanos continued loudly to glorify the Lord. Then the torturers sentenced him to hanging (+ 303).
The Holy Martyrs Zaccheios, Deacon of Gadara, and Alpheios, Reader of Caesarea, suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). During the time of the then most fierce persecution against Christians, among many others arrested was Saint Zaccheios, a deacon of the Gadara church, who openly confessed his faith and under torture did not renounce Christ. The Diocletian persecution was so fierce, that many did not endure, and frightened of the tortures, consented to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Saint Alpheios, a reader of the Caesarea church, zealous for the glory of God, approached the crowd of those fallen away from Christ, on their way to offer pagan sacrifice. He urged them not to defile themselves with the impious sacrifices. They arrested Saint Alpheios and after tortures and torments they shackled him together with Saint Zaccheios. They threw the martyrs for the night into prison, where they prayed continually, supporting one another in their resolve to endure all the sufferings for the Name of Christ and thereby gain eternal life. In the morning the holy Martyrs Zaccheios and Alpheios were beheaded (+ 303).
© 2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos