Feast of St. Ellien of Homs, February 6th
By V. Rev. George Alberts
"On February 6th each year we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Ellien of Homs, Syria. St. Ellien accepted the Christian faith even though his father and family were not Christians. Because of this, he and his family were at odds with one another.
When St. Ellien became a Christian, he took stock of the talents that God had given him.
He heard the Gospel of our Lord concerning the parable of talents and decided to use his talents to benefit others. Saint Ellien is described by his biographers in this way:
“Having set his hopes in Jesus Christ, he was not tempted by the glory of this ephemeral world. He prayed day and night, practiced fasting, visited prisoners and comforted them. He gave out large alms of what remained in excess in his father’s house. Ellien studied and practiced medicine skillfully. He strived to cure the diseases of both the body and soul. He cured sick people by Christ’s grace and the faith of the Apostles, while preaching God’s Word and urging them to follow the path of virtue. ‘It is not’, he says, ‘with medicines that you will be cured of your illness nor thanks to your idols which drive to perdition all those who kneel before them, but by the power of Jesus Christ’s name who has been crucified by the Jews under Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, who has been buried and resuscitated on the third day.’”
Because of his mastery of the healing arts and the fact that he not only effectively healed the body, but also the soul, he stirred up jealousy in the hearts of his fellow physicians who were not followers of Christ. There was a great persecution of Christians at that time and they used his Christian faith against him. First they appealed to his father who held a powerful position in the city. They asked him to force his son to stop what he was doing, to give up his practice of medicine and stop healing in the name of Jesus Christ. But St. Ellien refused to listen to these men or his father knowing that he would have to give an account before His Heavenly Master as to what he did with the many talents God had given him. When they found that he would not listen to them or his father, they appealed to the Governor of Homs to imprison St. Ellien along with the Bishop of Homs, Silvanus, the Deacon Luke, and the Reader Mocime.
Saint Ellien felt unworthy and overjoyed to be in their company and he kissed and reverenced the chains that bound them. When these men were about to be put to death, St. Ellien prayed to God and angel appeared to him and said: “Do not be grieved, O Ellien, a crown has been prepared for you. You will conquer your enemies and the devil’s tricks. Do not fear their torture for, I am with you!”
[St. Julian then offered the following prayer to God: أيها الرب إلهي ، مصدر العطف والرأفة يا من أرسلت إبنك الوحيد فادياً ومنقذاً للعالم من عبء العذاب الأبدي . ومع فتحك أحضان محبتك لقبول كل من يأتي إليك سمحت أن يكون طريق الخلود مملوءاً بالأشواك ، لتظهر فضيلة المجاهدين حسناً، ويتعلموا الرجولة الصحيحة .أرجو أن تتعطف على هذا الوليد الذي لم تمنعه حداثة سنه من التشبث بكل قوته في الرجاء الثابت بك . فلا تسمح يا معين الرحمة أن يجد الخوف إلى قلبي سبيلاً . قد سررت يا إلهي أن يكون لك قطيع في هذا البلد الطيب . ولكنك سمحت لحكمة نجهلها أن تخترق الذئاب سياجه ، وتفتك بالراعي نفسه فإعطف بناظرك الرحيم على القطيع المشتت ، وإجمع فلوله تحت كنفك، فلا بمتهنه كل عابر سبيل . أفض اللهم على أهالي هذا البلد الجميل أنوار معرفتك ليستضيؤا بهداك . وأرهم شيئا من جمالك السامي وصفاتك الحسنى ، ليشغلوا بها عما سواك . إن قلوب العباد بيديك كجداول مياه ، فحول ميولهم إلى الخير وأبعدهم عن الشر . واسند بيمينك القادرة ضعف هذا التائق إليك ليرتع أنى شئت في بحبوحة رضاك . ..آمينً ... (http://www.yuliantours.com/ar/aboutsyria/hims_church.php)]
St. Ellien suffered through many hardships. He suffered imprisonment and tortures, all along preaching and healing those who were sick.
[Then his father had him tied to a horse and dragged through the streets. He was imprisoned and tortured for months, but would not renounce the faith, instead he led all of the tormentors to Christ. (http://www.comeandseeicons.com/j/bmp13.htm)]
Later, a church dedicated to St. Ellien was built on the spot of the cave where he died and his body was put in a marble coffin. Many miracles attributed to St. Ellien’s intercessions occurred after his death and they continue to occur to this day. Prior to his being put to death, St. Ellien himself blessed those who celebrate his Feast Day as he offered this prayer to God:
“O my Lord Jesus Christ, hear my prayer and accept my request on this hour. Give peace to whoever remembers me on the day of my martyrdom and forgive his sins. Protect him from his enemies’ snares and break up the devil’s power. Defend your lambs against the wolves!”
There are only two churches dedicated to this great saint: the original church of St. Elian in Homs, Syria, and the church of St. Ellien in Brownsville, PA. St. Ellien is often also referred to as St. Julian of Homs. Today many bear his name in either of these two forms. St. Ellien is considered a Holy Unmercenary, a physician who did not take money for his cures of both body and soul. Many who are sick continue to ask his intercessions and are often anointed with oil blessed with a special prayer on his feast day.
On his feast day, let us pray the words of his Troparion: O Saint clothed in strife and the healing physician, Ellien, intercede with our merciful God, to grant forgiveness of sins to our souls."
The following journal article discusses the church of St. Julian in Homs and its artwork: "The Wall Paintings in the Church of Mar Elian at Homs: 'Restoration Project' of a Nineteenth-century Palestinian Master", IMMERZEEL, Mat: http://poj.peeters-leuven.be/content.php?url=article&id=2004557&journal_code=ECA.
St. Julian is numbered with the Holy Unmercenaries, and so he is also celebrated with the Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries. For more information, see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2008/10/synaxis-of-holy-unmercenaries.html.
For a video with chanting of the Troparion of St. Julian, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNYUS9Lz5sE.
Part of the Paraklesis to St. Julian can be heard here: http://web.orthodoxonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=721:saint-elian-of-homs&catid=207:saints-akathist&Itemid=253.
May St. Julian intercede for us all and help us! Amen!