Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Saint Porphyrios the Actor

St. Porphyrios the Mime (Feast Day - September 15)

Verses

Persuaded to mock Baptism, you mock error,
Being cleansed Porphyrios, and beheaded by the sword.

Saint Porphyrios was an actor in the days of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). In the course of his birthday celebration, the Emperor persuaded Porphyrios to mimic and make fun of the Christian Mysteries, specifically Holy Baptism.

Hence, Porphyrios entered into a font with water, and cried out: "The servant of God Porphyrios is baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." And having immersed himself into the water, he got out and put on the white robe of the newly-illumined, crying out: "Now I am a Christian."

Although everyone at first thought he said this in jest, his act and confession caused a change to come over Porphyrios, for he was touched by the grace of God, and came to truly believe in Christ, whose name he boldly confessed before the Emperor and all the spectators. For this reason Porphyrios was ordered to be beheaded, thus sealing his bold confession with his blood, and completing his act.

This Saint Porphyrios may be the same person as Saint Porphyrios the Actor who was converted in the same way under Emperor Aurelian (c. 270) and is celebrated on November 4th. However, seeing that there are two different dates given and two different iambic verses composed, they are to remain distinguished as two different persons.


A Reflection of St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"God is not mocked" (Galatians 6:7). God either punishes the mockers in order to correct them or He converts them into that which they had mocked. Initially, St. Porphyrios was famous among the pagans as a mocker of Christianity. On one occasion, he was mocking the Christian Mystery of Baptism before Emperor Julian the Apostate and his retinue. But something totally unexpected happened. When Porphyrios immersed himself in the water and pronounced the words of baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity, his spirit was suddenly changed, and he became a true Christian. Instead of mocking the Christian Faith, he began to denounce the emperor for his impure idolatry, for which he was tortured and beheaded. A similar thing happened to the comedian Gennesus, probably in Diocletian's time. This Gennesus parodied the Christian Divine Liturgy before a crowd of pagans, amusing them with his mockeries and witticisms. Suddenly, he changed, and cried out before the people: "I believe, and I desire to be baptized." At first, the spectators thought his words were a part of his farce, but he repeated his statement of faith in Christ. When Gennesus remained steadfast in his new faith, even when interrogated by the court and the emperor himself, he was tortured and slain. Thus, the mocker of Christ became a martyr for Christ.


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