September 9, 2015

Saint Severian the Great Martyr of Sebaste

St. Severian of Sebaste (Feast Day - September 9)


Severian suffered by the weight of the stones,
Hanging he rejoiced, tearing his feet from earth.

Saint Severian was an eminent citizen of Sebaste in the days of Emperor Licinius (307-324). An imperial counsellor by rank, he was highly esteemed for his virtue and for his faith in Christ. When Lysias, the new Provincial Governor, heard of the many pagans converted by his word and virtue, and of how forward he had bee in encouraging the Forty Martyrs (Mar. 9), and how he helped imprisoned Christians with his wealth to keep them safe, he decided to submit him to interrogation. But before the soldiers could find him, Severian presented himself of his own accord at the tribunal.

His steadfastness and unshakable patience under torture amazed Lysias. Covered in wounds and dragged to the center of the city to be thrown into prison, Severian ceaselessly urged the crowd following him to be faithful to Christ and to persevere in doing good. He was hung and his flesh was torn by iron claws, which brought such amazement to Lysias that he pitied him and sent him off to prison. There Severian continued to preach Christ to the prisoners. Five days later, a rock was placed in his mouth to not be able to speak the name of Christ, and he remained steadfast in his faith before Lysias. It was thus ordered for huge stones to hang from his neck and from his feet, and he was hoisted to the top of a wall and suspended by his belt. All were astounded at his endurance as, hour after hour, he continued to confess the name of Christ until he joyfully gave up his spirit to God.

The wife of one of Severian's servants was among those who went out to his burial. Her husband had just died, and in her distress with no one to console her she turned to his body with the words, "Get up dear husband, so that we may go to meet our beloved master." No sooner had she spoken than the dead man got up and ran to assist at the Martyr's funeral, to the amazement of all. He lived on for another fifteen years.

Since the Christians could not decide where to bury the Martyr they wove a crown of flowers, placed it on his body and waited for a sign from heaven. Whereupon a great eagle appeared in the sky, grasped the crown in its talons, and slowly flew off to a nearby forest where it dropped it and was no more seen. (St. Nikodemos says that the incident with the eagle happened many years later in order to inform the faithful of the forgotten location of the Saint's burial.) The Christians buried Severian where the crown of flowers lay. His tomb became a source of miracles and the servant who had been raised from the dead tended it until the end of his life.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
With wise words thou didst anoint an army of Athletes and exhort them to contest. Thou didst spurn corruptible honours and receive unfading glory. Holy Martyr Severian, we sing thy praise.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Thou didst shine forth as a noble martyr, holy Severian, Athlete of God. Thou art the glory of trophy bearers, radiantly adorned with Christ's wounds. Intercede that our souls may be saved.