November 18, 2011

Saint Plato the Great Martyr of Ancyra

Saint Plato the Great Martyr (Feast Day - November 18)


Plato passed on to us small errors,
Plato is he who largely is slain by the sword.
On the eighteenth Plato was slain by the sword.

The Holy Martyr Plato, brother of the Holy Martyr Antiochus the Physician (July 16), was born in the city of Ancyra in Galatia. While still a youth he left home and went through the cities, preaching the word of God to pagans, amazing his audience with the persuasiveness and beauty of his speech, and his profound knowledge of Greek learning.

Because of his preaching he was arrested and brought for trial to the temple of Zeus before the governor Agrippinus. At first, the judge attempted to persuade the Saint to turn away from Christ by flattery. He assured the youth that he might be on a par of intellect with the greatest of the philosophers Plato, if only he worshiped also the pagan gods. To this Saint Plato answered, that the wisdom of the philosopher, although great, was but ephemeral and limited, whereas the true, eternal and unbounded wisdom comprised the Gospel teachings. When the governor counseled him to avoid death and save his life by worshiping the idols, Plato said: "There are two deaths, the one temporal and the other eternal; so also are there two lives, one of short duration and the other without end." Then the judge promised to give him his beautiful niece for his wife if he would deny Christ. He also threatened him with torture and death if he refused. Plato replied that he chose a temporal death for the sake of eternal life. The patience of the governor was exhausted, and he gave orders to ten soldiers to mercilessly beat the Martyr, and then send him off to prison.

When they led Plato off to prison, he turned to the Christians gathered about the temple, and he called on them not to forsake the Christian faith. Seven days later they again led the Martyr Plato for trial before Agrippinus in the temple of Zeus, where they had the implements of torture already prepared: boiling cauldrons, red-hot iron and sharp hooks. The judge offered the martyr a choice: either to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, or to feel the effects of these implements of torture on his body. Again the Saint steadfastly refused to worship idols, for which he was laid out over a bed of heated brass and flogged with heated iron balls which burned his under arms and sides. They then cut strips of skin from his back. He was so beaten and bruised, that he was unrecognizable. "Torture me more harshly," the Martyr cried out to the torturers, "so that your inhumanity and my endurance may be seen more clearly." After his tortures they threw him in prison for eighteen more days without bread or water. When the guards were amazed that Plato was able to live in hunger for so long, he told them: "You are satisfied by meat, but I, by holy prayers. Wine gladdens you, but Christ the True Vine gladdens me." Seeing that this did not shake the Martyr, they offered him his life and freedom if he would only say, "Great is the god Apollo." The Martyr refused to deny Christ or to sacrifice to the idols. Therefore, Agrippinus ordered the Holy Martyr Plato to be beheaded in the year 266.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
The renowned pair of prizewinners glorified the Trinity. They both fought valiantly and destroyed the enemy. Glorious Plato and godly Romanos, pray for us to the Lover of mankind.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Thine all-holy memory doth cheer and gladden the whole world, calling all to come to thine august and ven'rable temple; wherein now, with jubilation we have all gathered, and with odes we hymn thy triumphs, O Martyr Plato, and with faith, we cry out to thee: Rescue thy people, O Saint, from barbarous foes.