November 3, 2016

Saint Achemenides the Confessor

St. Achemenides the Confessor (Feast Day - November 3)


Achemenides longed for God the Word,
Risking paternal glory and torture.

King Bahram V (420–438) began his reign over Persia with a systematic persecution against Christians, just as his father Yazdegerd I (399-420). Theodoret of Cyrus narrates for us what the Christians endured at this time in his Ecclesiastical History (Bk. 5, Ch. 38):

To relate the various kinds of tortures and cruelties inflicted on the saints is no easy task. In some cases the hands were flayed, in others the back; of others they stripped the heads of skin from brow to beard; others were enveloped in split reeds with the cut part turned inwards and were surrounded with tight bandages from head to foot; then each of the reeds was dragged out by force, and, tearing away the adjacent portions of the skin, caused severe agony; pits were dug and carefully greased in which quantities of mice were put; then they let down the martyrs, bound hand and foot, so as not to be able to protect themselves from the animals, to be food for the mice, and the mice, under stress of hunger, little by little devoured the flesh of the victims, causing them long and terrible suffering. By others sufferings were endured even more terrible than these, invented by the enemy of humanity and the opponent of the truth, but the courage of the martyrs was unbroken, and they hastened unbidden in their eagerness to win that death which ushers men into indestructible life.

To serve as an example of courage during this time, Theodoret first presented one called Hormisdas, who is known in Greek as Achemenides. He writes:

Among the noblest of the Persians was one called Hormisdas, by race an Achaemenid and the son of a Prefect. On receiving information that he was a Christian the king summoned him and ordered him to deny God his Savior. He replied that the royal orders were neither right nor reasonable, "for he," so he went on, "who is taught to find no difficulty in spurning and denying the God of all, will more easily despise a king who is a man of mortal nature; and if, sir, he who denies your sovereignty is deserving of the severest punishment, how much more terrible a chastisement is not due to him who denies the Creator of the world?" The king ought to have admired the wisdom of what was said, but, instead of this, he stripped the noble athlete of his wealth and rank, and ordered him to go clad in nothing save a loin cloth, and drive the camels of the army. After some days had gone by, as he looked out of his chamber, he saw the excellent man scorched by the rays of the sun, and covered with dust, and he remembered his father's illustrious rank, and sent for him, and told him to put on a tunic of linen. Then thinking the toil he had suffered, and the kindness shown him, had softened his heart, "Now at least," said he, "give over your opposition, and deny the carpenter's son." Full of holy zeal Hormisdas tore the tunic and flung it away saying, "If you think that this will make one give up the true faith, keep your present with your false belief." When the king saw how bold he was, he drove him naked from the palace.

Thus this thrice-blessed and God-pleasing man left and went on to live a pious life, and after reposing in peace he received the crown of confession.