Monday, December 26, 2016

Holy New Hieromartyr Constantios the Russian (+ 1743)

St. Constantios the Russian (Feast Day - December 26)

Verses

You cast away the enemy, as he formerly caused your fall,
And you received the prize Constantios.

Constantios was from "the glorious kingdom of Moscovy" and served as a chaplain of the Russian Embassy in Constantinople. There he conducted his priestly duties competently and led a quiet life. At that time, during the reign of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna of All Russia (1741-1761), war ensued between Russia and the Ottomans. While the Russian ambassador and his staff departed, Father Constantios remained behind and secluded himself from political concerns. From there he went to Mount Athos and spent a short amount of time at Great Lavra Monastery. He then went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he venerated all the sacred shrines. From there he returned to Great Lavra and remained there until peace was restored between the Russians and the Ottomans.

From this point we will allow his biographer, Hieromonk Jonah the Kavsokalyvite,* to give his account:

"It was then that I made his acquaintance. We oftentimes met and conversed, since we concelebrated the Liturgy together at the Lavra. We also served at the funeral of Bishop Neophytos of Arta, who greatly loved Father Constantios, deeming him a wise and virtuous man. I also have kept company with him on many occasions when we would speak of the Russian realm, though more so concerning ecclesiastical subjects. When peace was restored, he returned to Constantinople and took up his previous post as pastor of the embassy church. Father Constantios was respectfully received by the new ambassador, who had just come from Russia.

Now I do not know how it came about, but the two men had a serious falling out. Some conjecture that it was in regard to some writings they worked on together for the empress. In any event, the discord was such that the consequences of it brought Father Constantios to present himself before the sultan. Whether it was out of fear or anger, he - alas! - uttered words of denial of the blameless Christian Faith. As a result of his disavowal of the Christ and espousal of Muhammad, he was rewarded handsomely by the sultan and Muslims with honors deemed high and grand by them.

Not many days passed before he came to himself, as one coming out of a drunken stupor, and he repented. He wept, shedding bitter tears of remorse from the depths of his heart, for the great evil which befell him, even as once did the Apostle Peter. Having come to profound contrition and compunction, he disdained his present manner of life. He now only desired to witness for Christ and publicly cast down with contempt his Hagarene garb.

As a result, he donned a tattered cassock and tied a black towel about his head. He then proceeded to the very place where he openly denied Christ. Once there, before the sultan, he boldly confessed the true God. He cast down his Muslim garb and trampled it underfoot. He reviled as paltry the religion of the Hagarenes and their prophet, Muhammad. The Turks, hearing his sudden abjuration and seeing his display of disdain, were both shamed and incensed. Straightway, without filing charges or giving him a trial, they severed his head, right there before the royal palace. In this manner, he joyfully received the crown of martyrdom. By his intercessions, may we also be granted those everlasting good things. Amen."

Notes:

* Hieromonk Jonah the Kavsokalyvite wrote his brief biography, which John Karyophylles rendered into simpler Greek. This work was collected by Nikodemos the Hagiorite and included in his New Martyrology, published in 1799. A divine office to Saint Constantios was composed by the hymnographer Father Gerasimos Mikragiannanites.


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