The Saint came from the town Ainos in Thrace from poor but devout parents and was named Athanasios in the holy Baptism.
Because of his poverty, he assumed duty on some Turk's ship in order to earn a living. Seeing the virtues and the skillfulness of Athanasios, the impure Turk thought of turning him to [Islam] in order to make him his heir. Knowing, though, the stability and the devoutness of the young man, and that with flattery he could not convince him, he kept his purpose a secret so that he could use violent means. While, once, they were travelling from Constantinople to Smyrna, the unlawful judge of the Hagarines of Smyrna, seeing, as well, the willingness and the diligence of Athanasios, he was prodding the captain to try in every way to make him change faith. As soon as they arrived in Smyrna, the same night, the Hagarine ordered Athanasios to light a lantern and to walk ahead of him, allegedly going to some place. While they were walking on a street next to Turkish graves, he ordered the young man to get inside the Turkish cemetery and when they walked deeper inside, the impure Turk pulled a knife and, allegedly, trying to kill him, he injured him pretty seriously. The young man was surprised and he was pleading him with fear and wailings, however, he responded that it was impossible to let him live unless he becomes of the same faith. The young man thought that the testimony of that Turk was not valid because everyone knew him for a liar, so he said to himself: “let me say this word in order to save myself from this cruel man and, tomorrow, I'll deny it and I'll leave”. This was Satan's trap, in order to abjure. As soon as he told him that will become an Ottoman, that impious man immediately kissed him and gave him an Ottoman name and at the same time of midnight, he dragged him to the judgment place and they didn't let him go until they circumcised him as well. A few days later, he got very sick and he was sad because he was afraid he would die in disrespect but God pitied him. After many hardships and dangers, he left his master, who almost killed him, for a financial dispute, though; since then, he started rising from the depth of impiety and he was using his Christian name.
After he was rescued from many dangers with the help of God, he came to Mount Athos and, first, he visited some monasteries and sketes, where he confessed to many confessors asking for refuge; later, following the advice of a righteous confessor, he came to the holy Monastery of Esphigmenou, where the father superior Euthemios welcomed him, after he confessed him and learned his whole story. By him, he was appointed “trapezaris”, that is to say to serve in the table of the fathers, where he served with great willingness.
The devil brought him many and hard-to-say temptations and imaginations, but Athanasios, through confession and prayer, he was beating the meddler, by calling upon the Lord and the Virgin Mary.
One day, while serving in a place where there was smoke, his eyes hurt and went to his cell, where he started crying saying: “The woe is to me, that if I can not tolerate such a little pain, how can I endure the martyrdom?” He prayed for a long time with big genuflections and, afterwards, when he slept, he saw Virgin Mary in a dream, who said to him: “Why, my child, are you sad and anxious?” The saint said: “How can I not be sad, the rascal, when, apart from my other sins, I denied my Lord?” The Virgin Mary said to him: “Have courage, my child, for you will enjoy the desired martyrdom.” He narrated all these to his teacher, Germanos, who was appointed by the father superior in order to instruct him and to receive his thoughts. The father superior sent Germanos to the Patriarch, Gregorios V, who was a hermit then at the Monastery of Iviron and he reassured that all these come from God and wished Athanasios to finish with the martyrdom, after he prepared himself until the end of the Holy Lent.
When the Holy Lent came, under the order of the father superior, they went with Germanos to the Skete of Iviron on order for Athanasios to be prepared by the monk Grigorios, who had formerly prepared the Saint Martyrs Euthemios, Ignatios, Akakios and Onouphrios. There, they [venerated] their holy Relics, which when Athanasios saw them, his soul rejoiced and was heated more in the martyrdom. After they returned to the Monastery of Esphigmenou, he started preparing with great struggles, fasting and prayer. On the order of the father superior, he locked himself up in the north tower and everyday he did one thousand five hundred big [prostrations] and another four thousand small ones. Before that, his confessor read him the merciful prayers for eight days and, in the end, he anointed him with the Holy Oil. In the Fourth Sunday of the Lent, he received the cloth of the Monks in the [Liturgy] and was named Agathangelos.
After he received the Holy Communion, he returned to the tower. His face changed and lit up and heavenly flame lit in his heart, which urged him to more struggles. He also found a chain which weighed more than 25 lbs. and tied himself up to the skin like a true Esphigmenos (tied-up); also, he wore a sack made of hair and he increased the [prostrations] until he exceeded the three thousand big ones and eight thousand small ones. He was reading the Salutations of the Virgin Mary two times a day, the Gospel, the New Martyrology and other books, praying with Jesus prayer and desiring death with all his soul for Christ.
Not being able to hold his desire for martyrdom, he was pleading the father superior to send it him as soon as possible. The father superior advised the brothers to pray in order for God to reveal if this is His will and on the same night, the father superior saw Saint Nicholas, who was saying to Agathangelos: “You desired good work, so hurry and you will prosper”. Since then, the final preparations for it started.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone