This saint was a Cilician, of a senatorian family in Anazarbus, and a minister of the gospel. In the persecution of Dioclesian he fell into the hands of a judge, who, by his brutal behavior, resembled more a wild beast than man. The president, seeing his constancy proof against the sharpest torments, hoped to overcome him by the long continuance of his martyrdom. He caused him to be brought before his tribunal every day; sometimes he caressed him, at other times threatened him with a thousand tortures. For a whole year together he caused him to be dragged as a malefactor through all the towns of Cilicia, imagining that this shame and confusion might vanquish him: but it served only to increase the martyr”s glory, and gave him an opportunity of encouraging in the faith all the Christians of Cilicia by his example and exhortations. He suffered every kind of torture. The bloody executioners had torn his flesh, furrowed his sides, laid his bones bare, and exposed his very bowels to view. Scourges, fire, and the sword were employed various ways to torment him with the utmost cruelty. The judge saw that to torment him longer was laboring to shake a rock, and was forced at length to own himself conquered by condemning him to death: in which however, he studied to surpass his former cruelty. He was then at Ægea, a town on the sea-coast; and he caused the martyr to be sewed up in a sack with scorpions, serpents, and vipers, and so thrown into the sea. This was the Roman punishment for parricides, the worst of malefactors, yet seldom executed on them. Eusebius mentions, that St. Ulpian of Tyre suffered a like martyrdom, being thrown into the sea in a leather sack, together with a dog and an aspick. The sea gave back the body of our holy martyr which the faithful conveyed to Alexandria of Cilicia, and afterwards to Antioch, where St. Chrysostom pronounced his panegyric before his shrine. He eloquently bets forth how much these sacred relics were honored; and affirms, that no devil could stand their presence, and that men by them found a remedy for their bodily distempers, and the cure of the evils of the soul.
The martyrs lost with joy their worldly honors, dignity, estates, friends, liberty, and lives, rather than forfeit for one moment their fidelity to God. They courageously bade defiance to pleasures and torments, to prosperity and adversity, to life and death, saying, with the apostle: Who shall separate us from the love of Jesus Christ? Crowns, scepters, worldly riches, and pleasures, you nave no charms which shall ever tempt me to depart in the least little from the allegiance which I owe to God. Alarming fears of the most dreadful evils, prisons, racks, fire, and death, in every shape of cruelty, you shall never shake my constancy. Nothing shall ever separate me from the love of Christ. This must be the sincere disposition of every Christian. Lying protestations of fidelity to God cost us nothing: but he sounds the heart. Is our constancy such as to bear evidence to our sincerity, that rather than to fail in the least duty to God, we are ready to resist to blood? And that we are always upon our guard to keep our ears shut to the voices of those sirens which never cease to lay snares to our senses?
(Source: Butler’s Lives of the Saints)
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