October 20, 2015

Saint Artemios the Great Martyr

St. Artemios the Great Martyr (Feast Day - October 20)


O Artemios whose life was all brilliant,
You endured beheading as your supreme boast.
On the twentieth astute Artemios was beheaded.

The holy, glorious martyr Artemios came from a noble family and was highly regarded by Emperor Constantine the Great, who promoted him to the rank of Patrician and appointed him Military Governor (dux augustalis) of Alexandria and of all Egypt (c. 330). Despite his high appointment and responsibilities, Artemios did not weaken in his faith or in his zeal to spread the message of salvation in Christ.

Upon the death of Emperor Constantine, his son Constantius inherited all the East and resided in Constantinople (337). He entrusted Artemios with the task of bringing the relics of the Apostle Andrew from Patras in the Peloponnese and the Apostle Luke from Thebes in Boetia to Constantinople, where they were placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles.

When Julian the Apostate came to the throne and sought to restore paganism, he made Antioch his headquarters for carrying on the Persian war, and commanded all provincial Governors to meet him there with their forces. Therefore, Artemios departed Alexandria with his army and went to Antioch. After arriving in the city, he saw Emperor Julian with two priests before him, Evgenios and Makarios, whom he was trying to get to renounce their faith for the senseless cult of his gods. Having bravely confessed their faith in Christ, the Emperor ordered them to be struck five hundred times with rods. Disgusted by what he saw, Artemios went up to the Emperor and denounced his policies as being that of the demons, and the gods he worshiped were nothing but wood or silver and completely lifeless. The Emperor's surprise turned into fury when he learned that this was Artemios the Governor of Egypt, whom he suspected to have been responsible for the death of his brother Gaius Constantine, the Caesar of the East, assassinated on the orders of Emperor Constantius. Thus Artemios was seized and his badges of office were torn off, then he was thrown into prison with the priests Evgenios and Makarios.

The next day, Evgenios and Makarios were exiled to the inhospitable confines of Arabia where, after a while, they were beheaded (Dec. 20). Artemios was brought before the Emperor, who flattered him and offered him a promotion in the empire if he accepted the pagans gods and renounced Christ. Artemios ardently refused, and for this Julian had him tortured in prison, running through his body red-hot skewers. That evening Christ appeared to Artemios and healed his wounds. Strengthened by this vision, Artemios spent fifteen days on his feet, neither eating or drinking, but occupied night and day with prayer and the contemplation of heavenly mysteries.

After this time Julian had Artemios brought before him to put him to death. A large rock, lying near the theater, was split in two; the Saint was laid on one half and the other half was brought down on his body. As the stone fell, everyone could hear his bones break. He was left there till the next day, thinking that he was dead. But when the stone was lifted, the tyrant was astonished to find this broken-boned man, disemboweled and eyeless, scorning idols and glorifying the Cross of Christ. Julian thus ordered his beheading, to the joy of Artemios. A pious noblewoman got possession of the Martyr's body and took it to Constantinople, where for centuries it was fervently venerated by the faithful and wrought miracles without number.

In the seventh century an Anonymous author compiled a number of miracles of Saint Artemios, whose healing activities were predominantly centered in the Church of Saint John the Forerunner in Constantinople and who "specialized" in healing hernias and diseases affecting the genitals of mostly male patients. Below is one example of many:

A certain chief physician, Anthimos by name, had a son about 20 years old whose testicles had become dangerously diseased so that he did not even have the strength to go to the latrines by himself. The father brought him on a litter to the Church of the Forerunner where the much-revered relic of the holy and glorious Artemios now lies, and did whatever all are accustomed to do who are similarly afflicted. Then one night the holy martyr appeared to him in a dream in the semblance of his father Anthimos and said to him: "Let me see what it is that you have." And Anthimos' son, after undressing himself, showed him; once he had done this, Artemios took hold of his testicles and squeezed them forcefully so that he awoke and cried out in pain, still in the grip of the frightening dream. Anxious and worried that the illness was growing worse and after touching the afflicted place, he found himself without pain and his testicles restored to health.

See also: 

St. Artemios and the Exorcism of the Black Crow

5 Miracles of Saint Artemios the Great Martyr

Apolytikion in Plagal of the Fifth Tone
O victorious Artemios, thou wast a noble athlete. Now like a shining lamp thy miracles enlighten the world for the salvation of our souls.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Let us come together to praise Artemios, great among martyrs and rich bestower of miracles. He raised trophies of victory over the enemies and now intercedes with the Lord for us all.