Friday, August 16, 2013

Holy New Martyr Apostolos the New (+ 1686)

St. Apostolos the New (Feast Day - August 16)

Saint Apostolos was born in Agios Lavrentios of Pelion in 1667. His father was Kostas Stamatiou and his mother was Melo. At the age of 15, he became an orphan, and in 1682 he went to Constantinople, where he worked in a tavern.

During this time his compatriots in Agios Lavrentios were being brutally and unjustly taxed, and they brought the matter personally to the government official in charge in Constantinople as a committee. Indeed, they achieved some reduction in taxation and returned home. Yet the Voivode did not recognize the committee documents and dismissed them as fake, and he arrested three of the committee of residents who went to Constantinople, tied them up as villains, and he took them himself to the City, where he worked to incarcerate the culprits who attempted the betrayal.

Even though Apostolos lived in Constantinople for four years, he took on the cause of his compatriots before the officials, since he knew the Turkish language well. During this encounter, he argued with great boldness for the rights of his countrymen. Because of this boldness, he was chained up on orders of the Voivode, and sentenced to imprisonment for four years, equal to the time he was gone from his homeland. The Voivode thought to release the other prisoners at this time to avoid further trouble, and one of Apostolos' countrymen, an old jealous man, slandered him and accused Apostolos of instigating the whole thing. So they were released and Apostolos was ordered to be tortured to death.

While the Saint was ruthlessly tortured, one day he managed to free one of his legs and attempted to escape. Yet the noise of the chains gave him away and he was captured. This made the Voivode angry and he began to beat the Saint with an ax. The Saint said to him: "Why do you hit me with such heartlessness? Do you not know that I am better than you and your servants?" The Voivode took this statement as a confession that he was a Muslim, so they arranged to circumcise him. Apostolos remained steadfast in his faith however, and confessed bravely: "I am a Christian, and I will never leave my holy faith". They brought him from judge to judge, and each time, they would tempt him in various ways, bringing to mind his young age, offering to let him live in their mansions. For this reason, they offered him a gilded horse, that they might sweeten him with honors and good things. The Saint, however, replied to them: "I tell you again, as an honorable Christian, whatever death you wish to inflict on me, by the grace of my Christ I will accept gladly. Therefore, don't drag on. Do you wish to burn me? I will gather the wood myself and prepare the fire. Do you wish to hang me? I will prepare the noose with my very own hands. Do you wish to behead me? Give me the sword to sharpen as much as is needed."

Having been tortured terribly and slandered, he was condemned to death. He received the crown of martyrdom by beheading on August 16th, 1686, in Constantinople (in front of the Yeni Tzami) , at the age of 19. After his martyrdom, those around saw a star descend from heaven, and remain above the holy relic of the Saint, and make the sign of the cross.

His relic was thrown into the Bosporus, while only his Honorable Skull was saved by some Christians and given to the Patriarchate. In 1795 it was transferred to his hometown of Agios Lavrentios by Dositheos Selevkias, initially in the Church of St. Athanasios and in 1805 was transferred to the first church bearing his name, and since then, his memory is honored in the region, and throughout Magnesia with special magnificence on August 16th, centered around his magnificent church (built at the place where his home was), with thousands of the faithful taking part from all around Greece.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Divine offspring of Thessaly, a new boast of the Church you were shown to be, O New Martyr Apostolos, for Christ you struggled steadfastly, and proclaimed the glory of piety. But intercede with the Lord Who glorified you, that we be granted the great mercy.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
With a manly mind at a young age, you were arrayed, O glorious one, as a soldier of the Word, you armed yourself against the enemies, and in a brave manner struggled until death. Because of this we honor you, O Great Martyr of Christ, Apostolos.

Rejoice, new star of the Church, and the protector of the city of Lavrentios; Rejoice, you who shed your blood for Christ, O Apostolos all-blessed, the hope of the faithful.

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