Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hieromartyr Hypatios the Wonderworker and Bishop of Gangra

St. Hypatios of Gangra (Feast Day - March 31)

Hieromartyr Hypatios was bishop of the city of Gangra in Paphlagonia (Asia Minor). In the year 325 he participated in the First Ecumenical Synod at Nicea, at which the heresy of Arius was anathematized. After defeating and burning a dragon that had entered into the treasury of the emperor, the Saint departed Constantinople.

When Hypatios was returning in 326 from Constantinople to Gangra, followers of the schismatics Novatus and Felicissimus fell upon him in a desolate place. The heretics ran him through with swords and spears, and threw him into a swamp. Like the Protomartyr Stephen, Saint Hypatios prayed for his murderers.

An Arian woman struck the Saint on the head with a stone, killing him. The murderers hid his body in a cave, where a Christian who kept straw there found his body. Recognizing the bishop's body, he hastened to the city to report this, and the inhabitants of Gangra piously buried their beloved archpastor.

After his death, the relics of Saint Hypatios were famous for numerous miracles, particularly for casting out demons and for healing the sick. Portions of his relics can be found in various places, including Iveron Monastery at Mount Athos and Prophet Elias Monastery in Zacholi of Corinth.

A large church was built in his honor in Gangra where his relics rested, but it was destroyed by the Truks in 1922.  In 1975 a new church was built in his honor in the village of Antigonos in Florina, Greece by refugees who had come from Gangra in 1922 and there they placed the icon of the Saint that was in his old church.

From of old the Hieromartyr Hypatios was particularly venerated in the Russian land. Thus in the year 1330 the Ipatiev Monastery was built at Kostroma, on the place where the Mother of God appeared with the Pre-eternal Christ Child, the Apostle Philip, and the Hieromartyr Hypatios, Bishop of Gangra. This monastery later occupied a significant place in the spiritual and social life of the nation, particularly during the Time of Troubles.

The ancient copies of the Life of the Hieromartyr Hypatios were widely distributed in Russian literature, and one of these was incorporated into The Menaion of Metropolitan Macarius (1542-1564). In this Life there is an account of the appearance of the Savior to Saint Hypatios on the eve of the martyr's death.

The entry for the Saint's Feast consists of his Life, some prayers, and words of praise and instruction. The pious veneration of Saint Hypatios was also expressed in Russian liturgical compositions. During the nineteenth century a new service was written for the Hieromartyr Hypatios, distinct from the services written by Saint Joseph the Studite, contained in the March Menaion.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Hypatios, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

Thou didst receive the most exalted gift of Christ's Church and wast a wise Hierarch, blessed Hypatios. Thou didst shine with many miracles, and profess Christ to be of one dignity with the Father. Thou didst contest for Him rejoicing and wast glorified by God.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Celebrating blamelessly the sacred rites, O Hypatios, thou didst greatly multiply the talent that thou wast given; and when thou didst strive in contest, thou wast presented as a godly sacrifice and holy first-fruits unto Him that glorified thee with signs and wonders that tongue of man cannot tell.

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