November 27, 2016

Synaxarion of the Holy Great Martyr James the Persian

On the twenty-seventh of this month [November], we commemorate the Holy Great Martyr James the Persian.


Dismembered and slain the Persian announces,
"My soul will I save, for my members are gone" he said.
On the twenty-seventh the Persian was slain by dismemberment.

Saint James lived during the reign of the Christian emperors Honorius (393-423) and Arcadius (395-408). He was a Christian from his forefathers, and he was from the Persian city of Bethlaba which was situated in Elouzesion. A nobleman, he was much honored and loved by King Yazdegerd I of Persia. Due to the friendship and love the king had for him, James denied his faith in Christ and accepted the king's impiety. Because his mother and his wife revealed to him through a letter, that he was considered a stranger and foreigner in their relationship and communication, for he considered the love of a king to be better than the love of Christ, and by this temporal glory he gained eternal shame and hell, by these words the renowned one became entirely wounded at heart and grieved in his soul.*

Therefore he separated himself from the impious religion of the king, and wept much for the sin of his denial. He then presented himself before the king, and confessed his faith in Christ. The king became enraged with him. He then ordered that all the limbs of the members of his body be cut off: hands, arms, legs and thighs, so that only his torso and head remained,** which they then cut off.*** In this manner the thrice-blessed one received the unfading crown of the contest.


* Tradition states that he was a military officer and courtier to Yazdegerd I who had apostatized to Zoroastrianism after this ruler began to persecute Christians. Under the influence of his Christian family, however, he expressed his faith to Yazdegerd's successor, Bahram V, and was tortured and killed.

** His life says that he was slowly cut into twenty-eight pieces.

*** His death started the Roman-Sassanid War (421-422). He was killed in Gundishapur. The ruins of this city are near Dezful, Iran.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
James the Martyr and scion of Persia, drowned the dragon in his blood by his contest. He was dismembered for the faith and became the Savior's trophy-bearer. He intercedes unceasingly for our souls.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Thou didst listen to thy wife and consider the judgment, O courageous James. Thou didst spurn the threats and commands of the Persians, and thy body was pruned like a vine. We praise thee, O noble Martyr.