Wednesday, September 2, 2009

St. Mamas the Great Martyr

St. Mamas the Great Martyr - Commemorated on September 2nd (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

The Holy Great Martyr Mamas was born in Paphlagonia, Asia Minor in the third century of pious and illustrious parents, the Christians Theodotus and Rufina. The parents of the saint were arrested by the pagans for their open confession of their faith and locked up in prison in Caesarea in Cappadocia.

Knowing his own bodily weakness, Theodotus prayed that the Lord would take him before being subjected to tortures. The Lord heard his prayer and he died in prison. St Rufina died also after him, after giving birth to a premature son. She entrusted him to God, beseeching Him to be the Protector and Defender of the orphaned infant.

St. Mamas milking deer to make cheese to feed the poor (source)
God heard the dying prayer of St Rufina: a rich Christian widow named Ammia reverently buried the bodies of Sts Theodotus and Rufina, and she took the boy into her own home and raised him as her own son. [He was named Mamas because, after he had long remained without speaking, he addressed his foster mother Ammia as "mama." (] St Mamas grew up in the Christian Faith. His foster mother concerned herself with the developing of his natural abilities, and early on she sent him off to study his grammar.

The boy learned easily and willingly. He was not of an age of mature judgment but distinguished himself by maturity of mind and of heart. By means of prudent conversations and personal example young Mamas converted many of his own peers to Christianity.

The governor, Democritus, was informed of this, and the fifteen-year-old Mamas was arrested and brought to trial. In deference to his illustrious parentage, Democritus decided not to subject him to torture, but instead sent him off to the emperor Aurelian (270-275). The emperor tried at first kindly, but then with threats to turn St Mamas back to the pagan faith, but all in vain. The saint bravely confessed himself a Christian and pointed out the madness of the pagans in their worship of lifeless idols.

Infuriated, the emperor subjected the youth to cruel tortures. They tried to drown the saint, but an angel of the Lord saved St Mamas and bade him live on a high mountain in the wilderness, not far from Caesarea. Bowing to the will of God, the saint built a small church there and began to lead a life of strict temperance, in exploits of fasting and prayer.

Soon he received a remarkable power over the forces of nature: wild beasts inhabiting the surrounding wilderness gathered at his abode and listened to the reading of the Holy Gospel. St Mamas nourished himself on the milk of wild goats and deer.

The saint did not ignore the needs of his neighbors. Preparing cheese from this milk, he gave it away freely to the poor. Soon the fame of St Mamas's life spread throughout all of Caesarea.

St. Mamas the Great Martyr depicted riding a lion (taken from:

The governor sent a detachment of soldiers to arrest him. When they encountered St Mamas on the mountain, the soldiers did not recognize him, and mistook him for a simple shepherd. The saint then invited them to his dwelling, gave them a drink of milk and then told them his name, knowing that death for Christ awaited him. The servant of God told the servant of the Emperor to go on ahead of him into Caesaria, promising that he would soon follow. The soldiers waited for him at the gates of the city, and St Mamas, accompanied by a lion, met them there.

Surrendering himself into the hands of the torturers, St Mamas was brought to trial under a deputy governor named Alexander, who subjected him to intense and prolonged tortures. They did not break the saint's will, however. He was strengthened by the words addressed to him from above: "Be strong and take courage, Mamas."
St. Mamas being thrown into the flames (source)
When they threw St Mamas to the wild beasts, these creatures would not touch him. Finally, one of the pagan priests struck him with a trident. Mortally wounded, St Mamas went out beyond the city limits. There, in a small stone cave, he gave up his spirit to God, Who in the hearing of all summoned the holy Martyr Mamas into His heavenly habitation [In the year 275]. He was buried by believers at the place of his death.

The Martyrdom of St. Mamas (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

The Martyrdom of St. Mamas the Great Martyr (
Christians soon began to receive help from him in their afflictions and sorrows. St Basil the Great speaks thus about the holy Martyr Mamas in a sermon to the people: "Remember the holy martyr, you who live here and have him as a helper. You who call on his name have been helped by him. Those in error he has guided into life. Those whom he has healed of infirmity, those whose children were dead he has restored to life, those whose life he has prolonged: let us all come together as one, and praise the martyr!" (taken from:
For the full text in the original Greek of St. Basil's Encomium to St. Mamas the Great Martyr, see:
The Monastery of St. Mamas, Morphou, Cyprus (taken from:
St. Mamas honored throughout the Orthodox world, but he is especially dear to the Christians of Cyprus. According to one source, all of the churches and chapels named after him in Cyprus total 66. (σεπτεμβριου) Additional traditions hold that St. Mamas was either from Cyprus, or that his relics and coffin were moved there later. In any case, his Monastery and tomb on Cyprus is a great pilgrimage of the Saint (supposedly the third most sacred pilgrimage in North Cyprus, after St. Barnabas' tomb at Famagusta and Apostolos Andreas Monastery at Karpaz (, and many people there and throughout the world are healed by this great Saint. May he intercede for all of us!

Icons and tomb of St. Mamas, Morphou, Cyprus (taken from:
Note: The following prayer (similar to those of St. Modestos (also for animals) and St. Tryphon (for gardens) are said by the Priest following the Blessing of the Water service, specifically for those whose animals are sick or in any kind of danger. It is a beautiful prayer, and as I had mentioned previously, we can see the humility, faith and love of the Fathers, who would always take refuge in the Lord in every need or trial in their lives (and if livestock were one's means of sustenance, as was demonstrated above, then this truly becomes a great need indeed). May Christ heal all of His creation that suffer throughout the world, through the prayers of His Saints. Amen.
The Prayer of St. Mamas the Great Martyr (amateur translation)
Behold, I, the sinner and lowest one, Mamas, dwelling in the mountains, and through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ milked deer and made cheese, distributing to the poor, and walking through the mountains and caves until my dead. There when I was passing through, approached John and Philotheos, who entreated me saying: "The wrath of the devil has fallen upon our flocks and herdsmen, and are dying terribly. We pray you, O Saint of God, pray for them, that they might be healed from every evil, in memory of the age to come, and to the glory of God. I then said to them: "My spiritual brothers, I am a sinner, and God does not listen to sinners." But they persisted in entreating me. Hearkening, then, to their prayers, I pray to the Lord, saying:

I call upon You, our Lord Jesus Christ, the true God, Who descended from the Father's bosom, and was incarnate of the holy Theotokos, and Ever-virgin Mary, willingly enduring the Cross and death, and rose on the third day, and granting life to the race of mortals: hearken to me the sinner, and your unworthy servant Mamas, and all those whose spirits are spent and who are in great trouble, and who call upon Your name, O Lord our God, and remember the name of Your servant Mamas, do not allow their flocks or the herds of their animals to be afflicted by diabolical influence or any other sickness.

Yes, O Lord our God, Who made the heaven and the earth, and Whose word grants all things towards salvation to our people, do not neglect this my prayer, from Your humble and lowest servant, but hearken to me, O Lord Who loves mankind, and this my prayer is read, whether at a flock, or oxen, or mules, and do not let sickness or other temptation come close to these animals, that being always guarded by You, we might offer up glory and worship to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

HYMN OF PRAISE to The Holy Martyr Mamas
(by St. Nikolai Velimirovich)
Mamas the pious was born in prison,
And was kindred with Christ from his first day;
His father and mother, martyrs for God,
Birthed their only child in prison darkness.
For fifteen years, orphaned Mamas
Was alone in the prison of the world.
His only comfort and his only light
Shone upon him from the countenance of the Son of God:
This was his fulfillment and his wealth.
Mamas glorified Christ his God,
He glorified Him in word and in deed
By his prayerful soul and innocent body.
His friendship with God was more dear to him
Than the devious world that torments and lies.
He loved God and His pure Christ
And he became a friend to pure nature-
To the wilderness and forest and wild beasts,
To wild goats and fierce lions.
And God endowed his friend
With wondrous gifts of the Holy Spirit.
And Mamas shamed his persecutors,
And turned many torturers to Christ.
The emperor and the empire were against this boy,
But the right hand of God sustained him-
And, enduring torments, Mamas glorified the Savior.
The emperor and the empire collapsed to nothing,
While Mamas reigns, even now, with Christ,
And rejoices with the angels of God in heaven.
Another icon of St. Mamas depicted riding a lion (taken from:
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
With the staff bestowed on thee by God, O holy Great Martyr, shepherd us thy people now in green and life-giving pastures; swiftly crush with godly power unseen and wild beasts underneath the feet of them that praise thee with longing; for in dangers we all have thee, O Mamas, as our fervent protector and help.
(taken from:
Sts. Tryphon and Mamas the Great Martyrs (source)
Additional Apolytikion of the Saint in the Third Tone (amateur translation)
Divine offspring of martyrs, whose godly teachings you in truth followed with incomparable longing, and you preached the name of the Savior, and were shown wondrous, O wise one, through your struggle. O glorious Mamas, entreat Christ God to grant us great mercy.

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!


Brian Daniels said...

What a blessing! Thank you for posting his story!

Lora Dolores said...

Thank you for this glorious post! It is so very inspiring. God Bless You!

Unknown said...


KatherineH said...

Beautiful story and icons. Thank you for this awesome site!