March 30, 2015

Holy New Martyr Zacharias, Metropolitan of Corinth (+ 1684)

St. Zacharias of Corinth (Feast Day - March 30)


Receive crowns from God Zacharias,
As a Hierarch and Athlete of the Lord.

From 1645 to 1670, Venice was at war with the Ottoman Turks and, when peace was made in 1670, had to return many of the Greek lands that had been conquered. But in 1684, Venice joined the Third Holy League with Poland and Austria to fight the Ottoman Turks once more in an attempt to recover some lost territories. Consequently, the Ottomans were very apprehensive and suspicious of anyone who had anything to do with the Venetians. This was especially true of the people of the Peloponnese over many of whose coastal cities Venice once had control.

In 1684, Metropolitan Zacharias of Corinth, who was born in the diocese of Arta, was falsely accused by some Turks of sending secret messages to the Venetians. The Metropolitan was immediately taken into custody, beaten, and placed in irons. Brought before the kadi, he was asked to deny his faith and to become a Muslim. If he refused, the penalty would be death.

Zacharias refused to consider conversion and said to the kadi, "May the Holy God never allow me to deny my Lord Jesus Christ, the true God, for I believe Him to be Almighty and the Creator of the universe. And I am ready to spill my blood for His holy Name."

This response brought on another beating, after which Metropolitan Zacharias was returned to jail. But no amount of beatings could induce him to deny Jesus Christ. The Ottoman Muslims therefore decided he should suffer an unusually cruel death; he was to be impaled then roasted alive.

This news horrified many of the Orthodox Christians when they became aware of the sentence. So they hurriedly collected a large sum of money which they presented to the vali of the city, asking that they have mercy on the Metropolitan. As an act of mercy, Zacharias was beheaded instead. Thus Zacharias, the Metropolitan of Corinth, gave his life for the love of Jesus Christ in the city of Corinth on the Third Sunday of Lent, the Sunday of the Veneration of the Honorable Cross, March 30, in the year 1684.

Witnesses For Christ: Orthodox Christian Neomartyrs of the Ottoman Period 1437-1860, by Nomikos Michael Vaporis, pp. 138-139.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
As the shepherd of Corinth Christ showed you to be, a divine healer, blessed Zacharias; wherefore you contested bravely, and were seen to be our mediator before God; for this we owe you honor, crying out O Hieromartyr: Glory to Him Who granted you strength, glory to Him Who crowned you, glory to Him Who gives to us through you the divine mercy.