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St. Vlasios of Caesarea - Feast Day February 3rd

An icon of St. Vlasios of Caesarea.

The superman of his day, by the highly improbable name of Vlasios, expressed the will of God in such spectacular fashion that it was bound to win converts to Christianity at a time when they were sorely needed. This obscure man exemplified by word and deed the intent and sole purpose of the appearance of Jesus Christ on earth when the future of the faith in the Savior was at stake and there was need for bold action. There is no question he was chosen of God to be one of those to put the faith in Jesus Christ on solid footing. The redoubtable Vlasios asked no question and because he acted through faith alone his sainthood was assured.

Born into wealth in Caesaria at a time when that ancient city boasted of wealth and culture, he grew up in the midst of pomp and splendor. Called by some a traitor to his class, he was the very soul of humility and the epitome of Christian charity. Because of his complete acceptance of Christ he knew nothing of the marketplace and the money changers, choosing the company of Christians much less privileged than himself. Caring nothing for the wealth left to him, he forsook the life of leisure and pleasure to be a servant of God with a rare commitment.

Vlasios could have cavorted with other wealthy friends in spending sprees but diverted every bit of his fortune before the feet of the Lord, there to be shared by the poor and undernourished, of which there were and still are so many to this day. With a willing heart he set up projects for the poor that were a study in administrative skill, logistical distribution and, above all, in humanity.

When the word was out that the generosity stemmed from Vlasios, he was approached by his affluent friends, anxious to determine what madness drove him to depart with his worldly goods. Vlasios saw in their concern an opportunity to convince them that far from madness, it was for the highest of purpose he was acting thus and he invited all he knew to a grand banquet, at which he not only acted as his own toastmaster but as a spokesman for the Savior as well. Pagan and Christian guests alike hushed in silence as he spoke of their obligation to those less fortunate than themselves, exhorting them to act in the same manner in the name of the Lord.

As impressive as the noble Viasios might have been, it is doubtful that his affair was a successful fund raiser, although his words and deeds must have pricked the consciences of some of the Christians present. It is certain that although he may have won a few converts, he did nothing but incur the wrath of scornful pagans who looked upon Christian charity as a trivial application of support to the weak and defenseless. After the feast, the flint hearted pagans went forth not in gratitude to their host but to seek his denouncement for his overt offense to their own false beliefs. The more bellicose called for his Christian head and got it, although in the end they wished they had kept silent.

For his offense against the state and its false idols, Vlasios was called before a magistrate who might have been lacking in charity but was not lacking in the least in cunning cruelty. When the sentence was pronounced little did any one, know that the magistrate was summoning forth the power of God. Vlasios was brutually tortured but his body showed no sign of damage. The torture was repeated and each time the results were the same. The tortured man showed not the slightest scar, no matter how much flesh had been torn from him.

The futility of this form of punishment called for something else. An outsized cauldron was found, then filled with water which was brought to a boil. Vlasios was then tossed into this boiling water, only to climb out without so much as a blister. Suspecting that sorcery had rendered the boiling water harmless, the magistrate, to show no harm would come of it, plunged his face into it, only to pull away screaming in blindness and soon thereafter dying of his burns. The witnesses to all this fell before Vlasios in recognition of his Savior and were baptized without injury in the water that had destroyed the scornful magistrate.

Vlasios left the scene to go forth and preach as a dedicated missionary. His reputation preceded him and his work was made easier for what had happened. His missionary work continued for many years until he died in peace of old age.

Taken from Orthodox Saints by George Poulos.

For a description of this icon and the troparion and kontakion for this saint please click here