Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Saints Menas the Kallikelados, Hermogenes and Eugraphos

Holy Martyrs Menas the Kallikelados, Hermogenes and Eugraphos (Feast Day - December 10 and February 17)

Menas was an Athenian and born into a pagan family. After completing his education and excelling in rhetoric, he surmised that idolatry was a lie and delusion. Neither could he find satisfaction or truth in philosophy. It was when he studied the Christian writings and the Gospels that he found fulfillment and the light of truth. This is how Menas became a Christian.

Menas was a chief nobleman under Emperor Maximinus (311-313), or some say Emperor Maximianus (286-305) in Antioch and a Crypto-Christian, that is, the emperor assumed he was an idolater and Menas chose not to disclose that he had converted to Christianity. Menas was sent to Alexandria by the emperor to suppress the Christians there whom the pagans rioted against, while the emperor attended business in Byzantium, and he was given orders that if the Christians did not comply to imperial orders and reverence the Roman gods he should punish them severely. Menas departed for Alexandria accompanied with imperial authorities.

After bringing peace to Alexandria and winning the respect of both pagans and Christians, Menas decided to openly confess his Christian Faith, hoping to embolden the Christians of Alexandria and to be a heroic example. Distinguished for his gift of eloquence, for which he earned the epithet of Kallikelados ("beautiful-sounding"), Menas openly began to preach the Christian Faith and he converted many pagans to Christ. Learning of this, Maximinus sent Hermogenes to Alexandria to place the saints of Alexandria on trial. Moreover, he gave orders to purge the city of Christians.

Hermogenes, although he was a pagan, was distinguished by his good nature and his respect for the law. And struck by the endurance of Saint Menas under torture and by his miraculous healing after the cruel torments, he also came to believe in Christ. When Hermogenes visited Menas in prison to see if he had died of his wounds, he found him completely healed and asked how this came to be. Menas answered that he was healed after he quoted from the Psalms and said: "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me" (Ps. 22:4).

Maximinus himself then arrived in Alexandria, grief-stricken at the apostasy of the Alexandrians. Neither the astonishing stoic endurance of Saints Menas and Hermogenes under torture, nor even the miracles manifested by God in this city, mollified the emperor. Instead, they vexed him all the more. The emperor personally stabbed Saint Eugraphos, the secretary of Saint Menas who had also converted to Christianity through the Saint, and then gave orders to behead the holy Martyrs Menas and Hermogenes.

The relics of the holy martyrs were cast into the sea in an iron chest. Instead of the iron chest sinking to the floor of the sea, it floated to the area of Byzantium. When the iron chest arrived, an angel appeared to the Bishop and told him to welcome the relics of the holy Martyrs Menas and Hermogenes at the beach known as Acropolis, which had come from Alexandria. He summoned all the Christians he could at that hour, which was midnight, and they went to the seashore. There they beheld a great light on the open sea, like a column going up to heaven. Beside the light were two radiant men who reverently stood on either side, approaching the harbor. Though initially the Christians thought it was a galley, upon closer inspection they saw it was an iron chest moving fast on the sea above the water. When the chest arrived, the two angels instructed the Bishop how to preserve the chest until the death of Emperor Maximinus. The Christians venerated the relics and placed them in a certain church, as instructed by the angels. When Maximinus died, the Bishop interred the relics beneath the ground of the wall of Acropolis, so that the Saints may be the guardians of the city.

Four hundred years later, during the reign of Emperor Basil I (867-886), Saint Menas appeared one night to a certain man named Philommatis, who was a soldier in the military corps of the Ikanaton (the palace guards), and he showed him the location of his sacred relics in the section of the shore known as Acropolis, pointing to it with his finger.

The pious and faithful Philommatis rose up and revealed in detail his vision to his friend Markianos, who was the commander of the regiment of the Noumera, and he in turn told the emperor that in the seashore of Nicomedia, near the beach of Acropolis, the sacred relics of the Saint were hidden under the earth. He sent soldiers to that place, where they found an iron coffin which contained the sacred relics. A plaque was attached to the coffin, which indicated that it contained the relics of the Saint, as well as the location where they should be placed. It should be noted that the iron chest only contained the relics of Saint Menas. It is assumed Saint Hermogenes' relics were placed elsewhere.

The sacred relics were transferred to Constantinople. The emperor Basil built a church in the name of the holy Martyr Menas of Alexandria. Saint Joseph the Hymnographer (April 4) composed a Canon in honor of these holy Martyrs.

Today the incorrupt tongue of Saint Menas can be found in the Monastery of Leimonos in Lesvos, and other portions of his relics are in Docheiariou Monastery in Mount Athos and at the Benaki Museum in Athens. On December 10, 2006 the Benaki Museum gave a portion of the skull of Saint Menas to the Sacred Metropolis of Fthiotida.

Their primary feast is celebrated on December 10th, while the discovery of the sacred relics is celebrated on February 17th.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Since they had slain through their abstinence and struggles the fiery ragings and fierce motions of the passions, the staunch Martyrs of Christ God laid hold on the graces to drive off the pains and illnesses of the sick and work wonders both while living and after death. Strange indeed is the miracle! That these bare bones should pour forth such overflowing streams of cures. Glory be to our only God.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
The Lord snatched thee out of the temporal army, making thee a fellow-heir of the eternal, O Menas, with them that suffered and died with thee; and He doth grant thee the crown incorruptible.

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