September 1, 2015

Holy New Martyr Angelis of Constantinople (+ 1680)

St. Angelis the Neomartyr of Constantinople (Feast Day - September 1);
(Entrance to the Church of Sts. Constantine and Helen of the Karaman)


Angelis was essentially a man,
Seeing his beheading, he is an Angel among Angels.

Angelis belonged to the parish of Saints Constantine and Helen of the Karaman (the Karaman or Karamanlides were Turkish speaking Orthodox Christians from Karamania in southern Cappadocia) in Constantinople and earned his living as a goldsmith. He was married with six children, who were raised as pious Orthodox Christians.

On the feast of the Leave-taking of the Dormition of the Theotokos (Aug. 23) in the town of Saint Stephanos, both faithful Orthodox Christians and those who had apostatized and become Muslims were in attendance, which was not an uncommon occurrence. At one point they began to frolic and exchange hats - Orthodox put on Muslim (Turkish) hats and Muslims put on Orthodox (Roman) hats. Angelis was among those who participated.

The next day certain Muslims asked Angelis why he was wearing a Roman hat when he had become a Muslim the day before by putting on a Turkish hat. Astonished by this, Angelis responded: "I wear it because I am an Orthodox Christian." Insisting that he become a Muslim, these Muslims accused him of denying the Islamic faith and therefore took him to court.

There Angelis was formally charged with making the Islamic declaration of faith and of wearing Muslim headdress. Angelis denied this charge and stated that he was only frolicking and returned to his house. Therefore he was sent to the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa, who approached Angelis with flatteries and promises of rewards if he agreed to become a Muslim. Angelis responded that he was born and raised an Orthodox Christian, and nothing in this world could separate him from the love of Christ. Then the Grand Vizier responded with threats of extreme torture and death if he did not accept his proposal. Angelis responded: "Do whatever you wish. Burn, beat, cut, slaughter, throw me to the beasts, drown me at sea, and whatever else you are capable of doing to this my clay body. I will not deny my Christ! I will not change my faith! I will not become a Muslim!"

The Grand Vizier threw Angelis into prison when he realized he would not change his mind. Then a neighbor of his, a bey (a high ranking official) who liked Angelis, visited him and attempted to give him advice, begging him to deny his faith and return to his wife and children. Angelis was unwilling to listen to this advice, let alone accept it. The bey left saddened.

Then Angelis' wife was persuaded by certain Muslims to visit him, and she asked him with tears in her eyes to submit and save himself along with his family. Angelis replied that he surrendered her and the children to Christ, since any reunion in this life would be temporary, while being faithful to Christ would allow them to be reunited for eternity in the next life. This convinced his wife that he was taking the proper course.

The next day Angelis was once again brought before the Grand Vizier, who threatened him once more, but to no avail. He was then sentenced to death. Angelis was taken near the Church of Hagia Sophia in front of the palace and there he was beheaded on September 1, 1680.

That night a mysterious light illumined the body of Angelis, and this was witnessed by both Orthodox Christians and Muslims. The Ottoman authorities therefore ordered his body be thrown into the sea. However, the Orthodox Christian Furrier's Guild paid 300 grosia to Musur Aga and purchased the body of the Saint before the order was carried out. For this exchange to take place undetected, the body of Angelis was taken out to sea, and it was transferred to another boat which took them to the island of Proti (Kinali), where Angelis was buried at a monastery.

It happened that Metropolitan Parthenios of Drystra was in Constantinople at that time and heard of the martyrdom of Angelis. He investigated the events surrounding the death of the Neomartyr and wrote various encomia attesting these events. It seems also the three Muslims responsible for the death of Angelis suffered terribly as a consequence with a sickness unto death. However, because their souls would not leave them, they considered it a divine punishment, and they would call out "Angeli, Angeli!" They called for his wife to come to them and asked for her forgiveness, upon which they were able to give up their souls.