Tuesday, January 5, 2010

St. Romanos the New Righteous Martyr (+1694)

St. Romanos the New Righteous Martyr (+1694) - Martyred in Constantinople on January 5th 1694 (icon taken from: http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/romanos.jpg)

 The Saint was from Karpenesi. He was totally illiterate. The only thing he knew was that he was a Christian.

 One day he heard that some were going to venerate the All-Holy Tomb [of Christ in Jerusalem] and he followed them. After he venerated all of the Holy Places, he also went to the Monastery of St. Sabbas. There he heard the monks reading about the Holy Martyrs, how they suffered so many tortures for Christ preferring instead to receive the future good things. The Saint asked what were these future good things, and when he learned from the fathers about the life to come and Paradise, the desire to receive the future goods through martyrdom was born in him.

Because of this he went to Jerusalem and shared his idea with the Patriarch, who prevented him in case he couldn’t endure the tortures and might deny martyrdom and not to have the matter adverse to the Patriarchate. This blessed one however who desired martyrdom could not keep within himself the fire that was kindled in his heart.

He therefore traveled to Thessaloniki, where he appeared before the judge, confessed Christ as true God, creator and savior of the world and called mohammed an imposter and antichrist, and his religion an error filled with myths to laugh at. The judge ordered him to be tortured. They beat him mercilessly, they tore of strips of skin from his back, they cut his cheeks with petala and did many other tortures to force him to deny his faith. Because the Saint remained firm in his believe in Christ, he was ordered to be beheaded.

There happened to be at that time in Thessaloniki the Admiral of the fleet who sought the judge to give him the martyr to put him in a boat, telling him that this would be worse than death for the martyr. Because of his position as a rower on board he would be tortured throughout his life mentally and physically. He liked the idea and the Admiral took him, cut his hair and beard and put him at the paddle [i.e. to be a rower on a boat].

After a short time however, some Christian friends of the captain bribed him, and he set the Saint free and sent him to the Holy Mountain, to the Skete of Kavsokalyvia, near St. Akakios (April 12). There he struggled continuously and superhumanly, but he had no peace. He lived like a stranger in this life, and he thought neither for food nor water; his nous was on martyrdom.

St. Akakios of Kavsokalyvia (April 12) (taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=101069)

 As the two of them fasted, Elder and novice, and as St. Akakios received information regarding the favorable result of martyrdom, he tonsured him a monk and with the prayers of the fathers he let him leave with the goal of confession and martyrdom. At first he went to Jerusalem, where he couldn’t complete his goal, because there was a fear that the muslims would harm the All-Holy Tomb. Thus he traveled to Constantinople. There he caught a little dog, tied it up with his belt and led him to the bazaar. The Turks seeing this asked why he was dragging the little dog. He responded to them: “to feed him as the Christians feed you Turks.” As soon as they heard this they grabbed him and brought him to Vezyre, where he repeated the same words. Then Vezyre ordered them to torture him until he would deny his faith.

They threw him in a wooden container, in which they threw their murderers. There the blessed one remained without food for forty days. Later they took him out and tortured him mercilessly in various ways without in any way convincing him. Then Vezyre ordered him to be beheaded by sword.

As they took him to the place of execution, he greeted any Christian he saw with great joy saying that he was going to a wedding and not a slaughter, a fact that stunned many. Passing by the mosque at the hour when the chotza called for mid-day prayer, the martyr gazed and spat on him, for which cause the executioners immediately cut out his tongue, which he extended on his own for them to cut. And again he intelligently greeted the Christians with blood running from his mouth. When he reached the place of execution they beheaded him, as he thanked God and his beheaded body on its own fell towards the east, as if it were still alive. Angered by thus sign the Turks drove away the mass of Christians.

The holy relic remained three days and nights at the place of execution and the divine grace illumined it with a heavenly light, which was seen by all, Christians and Turks. In the end the relic of the martyr was bought for 500 grosia by some Englishmen who were stationed in Constantinople, and took it to England.
(amateur translation of Greek text from: http://vatopaidi.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/%ce%bf-%ce%ac%ce%b3%ce%b9%ce%bf%cf%82-%ce%bd%ce%b5%ce%bf%ce%bc%ce%ac%cf%81%cf%84%cf%85%cf%82-%ce%ba%ce%b1%ce%b9-%ce%bf%cf%83%ce%b9%ce%bf%ce%bc%ce%ac%cf%81%cf%84%cf%85%cf%82-%cf%81%cf%89%ce%bc%ce%b1/)

A napkin that was dipped in the blood of St. Romanos was offered by a ruler to the Monastery of Docheiariou. He later became a monk himself with the name Agapios. The Church also celebrates the memory of St. Romanos on February 16th.
St. Romanos appearing amidst the uncreated light to his Elder, St. Akakios of Kavsokalyvia (http://agioritikoslogos.blogspot.com/2012/01/5.html)

St. Akakios' Vision of St. Romanos (amateur translation)
In the chapel of the Dormition of the Theotokos, of the Cell of St. Akakios, where the Righteous Martyr Romanos lived in asceticism, is depicted on the north wall a striking icon dated to 1759, from the workshop of the hieromonk Parthenios from Agrafon, whose source is the life of St. Akakios of Kavsokalyvia. It depicts the appearance of the Righteous Martyr Romanos with lightning-white robes.
Before St. Romanos left to pursue martyrdom, he made a promise to St. Akakios, that if he was able to complete martyrdom, then he would intercede to God for his salvation, following his death, being in the Kingdom of Heaven. St. Akakios, on the other hand, until St. Romanos would be made worthy of the crown of martyrdom, would pray to God for him ceaselessly. St. Akakios had agreed to remain in his cave until the end of his life. After the martyrdom of St. Romanos, however, St. Akakios left his cave of asceticism for a few months, to descend to the Cell of St. Athanasios above Kavsokalyvia. There he one time was praying, when he came into ecstasy, and he saw St. Romanos shining in an indescribable manner. His face shinned more than the sun, as he was amidst the glory of God. He, however, turned his godly head from the Elder, and showed his displeasure for his breaking of their agreement, that he left his cave. St. Akakios fell to his knees, and entreated him to look upon him with sympathy and compassion and to forgive his error. St. Romanos, however, did not hearken to St. Akakios' entreaties, and he straightaway disappeared. After this, St. Akakios immediately returned to his cave in Kavsokalyvia. There during prayer, he many times beheld St. Romanos, again drenched with the uncreated light, however, not with the same austere expression. Instead, he had a joyous and sweet expression, and he consoled and strengthened his friend and Elder.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone (amateur translaion)
You first wrestled ascetically on Athos, and received the Divine will through the teachings of the Righteous Akakios, and hastened towards the trials of martyrdom and death, and you, O Romanos, stand beside the crown-bestowing Martyr of Christ, interceding for us, O all-glorious one.

Let us honour in songs the glorious Romanos, pride of ascetics and sweetness of the new martyrs of Christ, whom the Skete of the Lavra of Kavsokalyvia blossomed as a rose, and whom Akakios, young in years and old in asceticism had as his own disciple.
(from Ode 8 of the Canon in praise of All Saints of Athos, taken from: http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/athoscan.htm)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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