February 26, 2010

Holy New Martyr John Kalphas (+ 1575)

St. John Kalphas the New Martyr (Feast Day - February 26)

The Holy New Martyr John Kalphas (the Apprentice) lived in a suburb of Constantinople, called Galata. He was a cabinetmaker by profession, and he had acquired great skill in his craft, so that important officials made use of his services. He was entrusted with the inner adornment of the sultan's palace.

St John Kalphas was distinguished for his Christian charity. He provided for orphans and those locked up in prison, and many turned to him for help. One time a certain dignitary asked St John to take on his nephew as an apprentice. He agreed, and the youth received an honorable position at court upon the completion of his apprenticeship.

Once, encountering his former teacher and benefactor, the apprentice asked St John what it says in the Christian books about their "prophet" Mohammad. St John did not want to answer his question, but because of the persistent demands of the youth, he declared the following:

"As you have asked me to say, I will tell you the truth. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the one and only true God. Mohammad, in whom you believe, was a mortal and uneducated man who did nothing good upon this earth, and did not perform a single miracle, unlike the other prophets of God that we, the Christians have. It is only you people who revere him as a prophet. In fact, he was a theomachist and with his fantasies and fanaticism attracted a simple and ignorant people, so that what was prophesied about him was fulfilled: that he 'would come to seduce the world.'"

The youth, devoted to Islam, reported to his fellow Muslims that the cabinetmaker had insulted Mohammad.

St John was brought to trial, where they demanded that he renounce Christ, but he bravely confessed his faith in Christ, saying: "I will not renounce my Sweetest Jesus; I believe in Him and worship Him, and confess Him to be true God and perfect Man."

After torture, they sent the holy martyr off to penal servitude with a fleet at the Black Sea, where he spent six months. Then, for the next three months they beat him in the prison. Seeing that they could not coerce him into submitting to their will, they beheaded him in the crowded city square in Ergat-Bazara, near the Bedestan (a covered bazaar) on February 26, 1575.

The suffering of the holy Martyr John Kalphas were recorded by Father Andrew, the Chief Steward (Megas Oikonomos) of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who communed him with the Holy Mysteries in prison.