April 24, 2012

Saints Gerontios and Polychronia, Parents of Saint George

Sts. Gerontios and Polychronia (Feast Day - November 4 and April 23)

Saint Gerontios was from Cappadocia and his wife Saint Polychronia was from Lydda of Palestine. During the reign of Emperor Diocletian of Rome, as the religion of the Nazarene was spreading, an empire-wide persecution against Christians began. This order went out to all the governors of the Roman provinces, including Cappadocia.

Among the first Christians arrested in Cappadocia was Gerontios, a leader in the Roman army and father of George, who was then ten years old. Both George and his mother Polychronia attended the trial. They heard Gerontios respond to the Governor: "I prefer to die for my faith in Christ rather than deny Him, even if you gave me everything you promised." They also heard the Governor pronounce his death sentence for refusing to worship the Roman gods. As Gerontios was dragged to the place of execution amidst hundreds of idolaters, young George saw his father give up his spirit which was received by bright angels.

George's mother said to him: "Your father, my child, is near the throne of God, where he so desired to live. Though we may not see him, he is near us and will protect us from evil. Our house has gained a great and powerful protector. May God make us worthy to confess our faith and offer our life as a sacrifice for Him. You must not, my child, be sad because you lost your father. We will meet again one day. We Christians believe, as you know, that we have an immortal soul, and one day we will be resurrected and we will live endlessly near the throne of God."

Years passed and it was George's turn to confess his faith before Diocletian himself. As George suffered in prison from his many tortures, his blessed mother Polychronia tried to empower him with courage by reminding him of Paradise which he could gain by remaining steadfast in his faith. She also fasted and prayed and daily brought to Him the Sacred Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ.

One day in prison she met Diocletian. When he saw her near George and talking with him, he asked her: "Why are you talking with the soldier?" Polychronia responded with courage: "I am Polychronia and I am a Christian, like my son, who for many days you have tortured. May you know King that with whatever he suffers you are preparing for him an eternal crown in heaven and an enviable seat near the throne of God." When Diocletian heard this, he said: "You taught him to not respect our immortal and glorious gods? You advised him not to sacrifice to them?" Fearlessly the mother of the martyr responded: "Learn, King, that we were born Christians. Our parents taught us faith in Christ Our God, Who is the only True and All-Powerful, and He never denied us anything we asked of Him, which is why we will never deny Him. A myriad of tortures we will endure and suffer with patience for His grace."

When Diocletian heard the brave words of Polychronia, in a rage he commanded that she be beaten and burned with candles. Though the pain was great, her faith and sweet anticipation of Paradise to come made it disappear. Eventually the martyr exclaimed: "Lord Jesus Christ, receive the spirit of Your servant."

So the faithful and humble handmaid of the Lord gave her spirit into the hands of the bright angels who brought her with joy to the throne of God where she received the crown of eternal glory.

At night Christians secretly received her honorable relics and buried them glorifying and praising God.