Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Holy Martyr Varus and the Devout Cleopatra (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

St. Varus, the Devout Clepatra, and those with them (Feast Day - October 19)

                                                              By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Varus was a Roman officer in Egypt and also secretly a Christian. When seven Christian teachers were cast into prison, Varus visited them, supplying them with necessities and ministering to them zealously. He was amazed at these martyrs and grieved that because of his fear he could not become a martyr for Christ. The men of God encouraged him, and Varus decided that he would go with them to be tortured.

One of these men of God died in prison, so that when the wicked eparch had the martyrs brought before him, there were only six remaining. He inquired as to the seventh. Varus said to him: "I am the seventh". The enraged governor tortured Varus first. He commanded that he be flogged with dry rods naked, and after that had him tied to a tree and sliced apart piece by piece until the saint gave his holy soul to God.

His body was thrown on a dung heap. A Palestinian woman named Cleopatra, the widow of an officer, was there with her son John. She secretly took Varus's holy relics from the dung heap and buried them in her house. Then she begged permission from the eparch to take the body of her deceased husband from Egypt to Palestine. As she was the wife of an officer, the eparch immediately gave his permission. However, the blessed Christian Cleopatra did not take the body of her husband but the relics of the Holy Martyr Varus instead. Thus, she brought the martyr's relics to Edras (the village of her birth) near Mount Tabor, and buried them with honor there. Afterward, she built a church to St. Varus and he often appeared to her from the other world, resplendent as an angel of God.


An Appearance of the Holy Martyr Varus

When the devout widow Cleopatra built a church to him, she summoned the bishop and priests to consecrate it. A large number of Christians gathered for this celebration, for the entire countryside venerated St. Varus as a great healer and miracle-worker.

Following the divine services, this pious benefactress went before the relics of St. Varus and prayed: "I beseech you, you who endured much suffering for Christ, implore God for that which is pleasing to Him; and for me and my only son, ask that which is beneficial."

Cleopatra's son John was ready for the army. Just as she left the church, John became ill. He was seized with a burning fever that grew steadily worse until, around midnight, John died. The grief-stricken, furious mother came before the tomb of St. Varus and spoke sharply: "O saint of God! Is this the way you help me?" and she said much more in her bitter lamentation until, utterly exhausted, she fell into a light sleep.

St. Varus appeared to her with her son John. Both were radiant as the sun in garments whiter than snow, bound with golden girdles, and had magnificent wreaths on their heads. God's saint said to her: "Did you not pray to me to implore God for whatever was pleasing to Him, and beneficial to you and your son? I prayed to God and He, in His unspeakable goodness, took your son into His heavenly army. If you so desire, here he is: take him and place him in the army of the earthly king." Hearing this, the young John embraced St. Varus and said: "No, my Lord, do not listen to my mother and do not send me back into the world, full of unrighteousness and iniquity, from which you have delivered me."

Awakening from the dream, Cleopatra felt great joy in her heart and left the church. She lived near the church for seven years, and St. Varus often appeared to her with John.

For more information, read also: Saint Varus the Martyr and Blessed Cleopatra



Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr Varus, 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
Since thou hadst put on thyself thy Master's Cross as a breastplate, thou didst blunt and bring to nought the tyrants' wicked devices. Thou didst bear most savage tortures upon thy body; valiantly didst thou then finish thy godly contest. Hence from God, O noble Varus, thou wast adorned in a crown august and divine.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Following Christ, O Martyr Varus, you drank of His chalice; you received the crown of martyrdom and now rejoice with the angels. Pray for our souls unceasingly. 
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