September 19, 2013

Holy Martyrs Trophimos, Sabbatios and Dorymedon as Models for our Lives

Holy Martyrs Trophimos, Sabbatios and Dorymedon (Feast Day - September 19)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

In the List of Saints of the Orthodox Church there are saints who are not very well known to many, and some completely unknown, although these do not lack anything from the more known saints. Indeed, some of them may even be superior, because "a star among stars differs in glory". Usually the majority of believers give greater emphasis on the miracles associated with physical healings, and this is obviously one of the reasons that most know the names of the saints who are mainly known to have the gift of healing. The names of most of the Apostles and great Fathers of the Church, who struggled with all their strength and significantly contributed to the spreading of the Gospel throughout the entire world, who were steadfast in an unadulterated faith, and rescued the Orthodox way of life and salvation, which does not mean that they were unable to perform physical healings, remain unknown to many and are rarely heard of. In olden times the people, perhaps because they mostly had large families, gave their children besides the family names the name of the saint on the day which the child was born, and in this way a few "rare" names have been saved, such as Dorymedon, which was the name of a classmate of mine.

The Martyrs Trophimos, Sabbatios and Dorymedon, whom the sacred hymnographers call blessed and the adornment of the Church (Trophimos), all-wise and a praise-worthy athlete (Sabbatios), and the glory of the pious (Dorymedon), belong to the category of the saints who are unknown to many, having lived in the first Christian years and were martyred in Antioch.

Saints Trophimos and Sabbatios were once in Antioch, and having seen orgies taking place in honor of Apollo, they publicly denounced it. As a result they were captured and led to the pagan ruler Heliodorus, who ordered them to be mercilessly scourged with whips filled with nails. Their flesh was cut to pieces and blood flowed like a river, forcing Sabbatios to give up his last breath. Trophimos continued to remain upright and he was led out to a harsher ruler, named Peronius, who had him skinned alive and cast half dead into prison. In prison he was visited by a congressman named Dorymedon, who had followed the tortures of the martyrs and beheld their patience, calmness and forbearance. He came to believe in Christ and wanted to meet and speak with Saint Trophimos. After leaving the prison Dorymedon confessed his faith in Christ, with the result that he was tortured hard then thrown to the wild beasts with Saint Trophimos, who respected the martyrs and did not touch them at all. The bear and the leopard, although they were hungry, approached the martyrs and stood at their feet like tame lambs. Then a lion who was furious with hunger was sent against them, though he also behaved the same as the previous two beasts. When the pagan ruler saw the behavior of the beasts, he was greatly enraged and gave the order for their beheading. And in this way the martyrs gave their holy souls "into the hands of the living God".

The life and times of these three martyrs give us the opportunity to emphasize the following.

When a person distances themselves from God and lives without His Grace, they either become demonized or beastly and wild. Perhaps they become worse than the wild beasts, because they respected the martyrs and did not hurt them, although they were starving and should have devoured them. They did not though, because these unreasonable animals understand the presence of God, they "sniff out" the uncreated Divine Grace, and they become tame. When one studies the lives of the saints, they will find that many saints who lived out in the desert, were served by wild animals, such as bears, lions, etc.

When the Grace of God enters the heart of a person It softens and widens it so much, that it lovingly embraces the whole universe. Conversely, without uncreated Divine Grace the heart of man becomes narrower and harder than stone and steel, and thus remains unmoved before human pain, poverty, misery and need. It is dominated by passions and completely indifferent to others. It is completely foreign to true love and is distinguished for hypocrisy, arrogance and hatred for those he considers enemies. Indeed, if the one considered an enemy is seen as weak, his crashing and disappearing on an ethical and biological level, depending on the circumstances, is more than sure.

The presence of God through the saints changes a jungle into a calm place and wild beasts into lambs. While the presence of impassioned people, who are wilder than beasts, change a calm place into a jungle, a paradise on earth into hell on earth, peace into turmoil, joy into sorrow and unbearable pain, and a smile into tears.

In our days, we have become witnesses of a war of such cruelty and ferocity before which even the most wild of beasts in the jungle would kneel. The blood of the innocent victims "cries out to the Lord" like the blood of "righteous Abel", and shows the point at which human folly and heartlessness can reach, as well as the hypocrisy of "those given to rule the nations".

Unbelief usually leads to hardening and misanthropy. Conversely, a lover of God is a lover of man, because the uncreated Grace of God changes and transforms "the heart of stone into flesh".

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "ΑΓΙΟΙ ΜΑΡΤΥΡΕΣ ΤΡΟΦΙΜΟΣ, ΣΑΒΒΑΤΙΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΔΟΡΥΜΕΔΩΝ", February 2005. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.