February 16, 2017

Holy Martyr Pamphilos of Caesarea and his Companions

St. Pamphilios and Those With Him (Feast Day - February 16)


To Pamphilos
You are beyond all, Pamphilos friend of the Word,
And you are conducted to your beheading with love.

To Valens, Paul and Seleucus
Paul Seleucus, and Seleucus Valens,
Seeing the beheading rejoicing is brought by the beheading.

To Porphyrios and Julian
The two divine Martyrs leap towards the fire,
The flame of divine longing increasing within for the two.

To Theodoulos
Servants of delusion crucify on the wood,
Theodoulos the servant of the Crucified One.

To Elias, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Samuel, Daniel
Called by the Prophets and dying as Martyrs,
Five Martyrs boast in their beheading.

On the sixteenth Pamphilos was beheaded by the edge of the sword.

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Pamphilos, the first of the martyrs, was a presbyter of the Church at Caesarea in Palestine. He was a learned and devout man who corrected the text of the New Testament from the errors of the various copiers. He alone recopied this salvific book and gave it to those who desired it.

The second was the Deacon Valens, old in years and grey in wisdom. He was an excellent authority of Holy Scripture and knew them completely by heart.

The third was Paul, an honorable and distinguished man who, during a previous persecution, was cast into the fire for Christ.

Besides them, there were five brothers, according to the flesh and spirit, who were born in Egypt and were returning to their homeland after being forced to work in the mines of Cilicia. At the gates of Caesarea they declared that they were Christians for which they were brought to court. To the question: "What are your names?" They responded: "The pagan names which our mother gave to us, we discarded and we call ourselves: Elias, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Samuel and Daniel." To the question: "Where are you from?" They responded: "From Jerusalem on High." All of them were beheaded and with them a young man Porphyrios who sought the bodies of the martyrs in order to bury them.

Porphyrios they burned alive as well as Seleucus, formerly an officer who had approached and kissed the martyrs before the sword fell on their heads. Also the aged Theodoulos, a servant of a Roman judge, who, during the funeral kissed one of the martyrs.

Finally Julian, who reverenced and praised the lifeless bodies of the Martyrs.

And so they gave little for much, the inexpensive for the precious and mortality for immortality and took up habitation with the Lord in the year 308 A.D.

The History of the Martyrs in Palestine

By Eusebius of Caesarea

The Confession of Pamphilos, Valens, Paul, Seleucus, Porphyrios, Julian, Theodoulos and one Egyptian

Being in Number Eight, in the Seventh Year of the Persecution in our Days (308 A.D.)

The time now calls upon us to describe that grand spectacle which was displayed of the all-holy martyr Pamphilos, and of those who together with him were consummated by martyrdom; men admirable and brave, who exhibited, under many forms, contests for the sake of the worship of God. For indeed there are many whom we know to have been victorious in this persecution; but in none altogether like these whom we have just mentioned did we behold so completely all kinds of bodily stature, and of moral qualities of soul and education, and of deaths by different tortures, receiving the glory of the consummation of martyrdom by various triumphs. For all of the Egyptians who were with them appeared to be youths and boys; others were young men in the prime of life, among whom was Porphyrios; others again were in the full vigor both of mind and body, namely, those who were of the house of Pamphilos, that name dearly beloved by me; and Paulus, who came from Iamna; and Seleucus and Julian, both of whom came from the country of Cappadocia. There were also among them some venerable seniors who were bent down with deep old age, as Valens, a deacon of the Church of Jerusalem, and that other, whose conduct was conformable to his name, Theodoulos. There was, likewise, a variety of bodily stature, and they differed too in their mental acquirements, for some of them were very simple-minded and ordinary like children, while others were possessed of profound understandings and courageous habits. There were also some among them who were also instructed in theology, and in all of them was their praiseworthy courage remarkable. But like the sun which gives light to the day among the stars, so in the midst of them all shone forth the excellency of my lord Pamphilos -- for it is not meet that I should mention the name of that holy and blessed Pamphilos without styling him my lord, for he indeed had no slight acquaintance with that learning which those among the Greeks admire; while there was no one in our time who was so well instructed in those Scriptures which proceed from the Spirit of God, and also in the whole range of theology. And what is even greater than these acquirements, he was possessed of natural wisdom and discernment, that is, he received them by the gift of God. Moreover, Pamphilos was by birth of an illustrious family, and his mode of living in his own country was as that of the noble. Seleucus also had held a place of authority in the army. Some of them again were of the middle rank of life, and one also, who was called to this honor together with the rest, was a slave of the governor. Porphyrios too was reckoned the slave of Pamphilos, but in his love towards God and in his admirable confession he was his brother; and by Pamphilos himself he was considered rather as a beloved son; and, indeed, in every thing he closely resembled him who had brought him up. And were any one to say of this company of them all that they were a perfect representation of a congregation of the Church, I should say that he did not go beyond the truth. For among them Pamphilos had been honored with the presbytery, and Valens was in the orders of the diaconate, and others among them had the rank of readers; and Seleucus, even before the consummation of his confession, had been honored as a confessor by the suffering of cruel scourgings, and had endured with patience his dismissal from his command in the army. And the remainder of the others who came after these were hearers and receivers (catechumens). And thus, under a small form, they completed the representation of a perfect church of many persons. And so this admirable selection of all these martyrs and such as these, while we looked upon them, although they were not many in number, lo! they still bore the semblance of a many-stringed harp, which consists of chords that do not resemble each other -- the tenor and base, and flat, and sharp, and medial, all of which are well arranged together by the art of music. Like this resemblance, also, there were among them young men and old men together, and slaves and free, and clever and simple, and noble and common, and believers together with hearers (catechumens), and deacons with presbyters: all of which were variously harmonized together by one all-skillful -- the Word -- the only (begotten) of God. And they displayed each individually the excellency of the power within them by the endurance of tortures, and at the place of judgment produced the melody of a glorious confession.

It is also worthy of our admiration, when we look to their number, how they were twelve like the prophets and the apostles. Nor is it fit that we should omit the all-patient readiness of every one of them, each in his own part; the combs on their sides, and their incurable scourgings, and their tortures of every kind, and how they forced by violence these martyrs to do that which was abominated by them. And what necessity is there for our telling of the divine sayings which they uttered, as though stripes were reckoned by them as nothing, while with a cheerful and joyous countenance they answered the interrogatories of the judge, and jested with readiness under the very tortures themselves. And when he asked them over again from where they came, they avoided speaking of the city to which they belonged on earth, and spake of the city which in truth is theirs, and said that they were from the Jerusalem which is above in heaven, confessing that they were hastening to go thither. And because of these things the judge became the more enraged at them, and prepared himself against them with cruel scourgings, in order that he might accomplish his will upon them; but when he failed in his expectations, he gave command that one of them should receive the crown of victory.

Moreover, the modes of their deaths also were of all kinds; for two of them were hearers (catechumens), and they were baptized at their deaths with the baptism of fire only, while others of them were delivered up to be crucified like our Savior.

But Pamphilos, that name so especially dear to me -- one who was a lover of God in truth, and a peacemaker among all men -- received a triumph different from these. He was the ornament of the Church of Caesarea, because he also sat in the chair of the presbytery, both adorning it and being himself adorned thereby during his ministry in that place. In all his conduct too he was truly godly, being at all times in communion with the Spirit of God; for he was eminently virtuous in his mode of life, shunning wealth and honors, despising and rejecting them, and devoting himself entirely to the word of God. For everything that he possessed from his parents he sold and distributed to the naked, and the sick, and the poor, and continued in private life without any possessions, and passed his time in the patient study of divine philosophy. He therefore left Beirut, the city in which he had grown up in stature and learning together; and for the sake of his knowledge and understanding he attached himself to men seeking perfection. Human wisdom he abandoned, and loved the word of God. He also adopted the heavenly habit of the prophets, and was crowned with martyrdom.

The next after him that was brought to the conflict was Valens, a man venerable for his comely grey hairs, being in appearance a pure and respectable old man. Nor was he worthy of honor on this account only, but also for his great knowledge of the holy Scriptures; for his memory was completely stored with the Scriptures, so that he could repeat God's Scriptures by rote like one in whose memory the whole Scriptures were deposited. Moreover, he was a deacon of God's Church.

And he that was reckoned third among them was named Paul; a man who was fervent in the Spirit of God; and he came from the city Iamna. And he also had previously to this his confession contended with the suffering of the cautery of confession.

And when they had endured affliction in prison for about two years, the immediate cause of their martyrdom was the arrival of those Egyptians who were also consummated in martyrdom at the same time together with them. For having accompanied those men who had been sent to suffer affliction in the mines of Cilicia, and being then on their way back to return to their own country, as they entered in at the gate of Caesarea, they were questioned as to who they were and from where they came; and when they made no concealment of the truth, but said, "We are Christians," they were at once seized, just as if they had been malefactors. And they were in number five. So when they were carried before the judge, and spake in his presence with openness of speech, they were forthwith committed to prison; and on the next day -- the sixteenth of the month Shebat -- they, together with those who appertained to Pamphilos, were brought before Firmillian. First of all, then, the governor tried the Egyptians, and proved them by every kind of torture; and he brought forward the first of them into the midst, and asked him what was his name; but instead of his real name he heard from them the name of a prophet. Also the rest of the Egyptians who were with him, instead of those names which their fathers had given them after the name of some idol, had taken for themselves the names of the prophets, such as these -- Elias, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Samuel, Daniel. And when the judge heard from the same martyrs some such name as these, he did not perceive the force of what they said, and asked them again what was the city to which they belonged. He then gave a reply similar to the former, and said, "Jerusalem is my city;" for he was acquainted with that city of which St. Paul spake, the Jerusalem which is above is free, and our mother in whom we confess is the holy Church. And the governor inquired diligently about this. Then he brought against them the combs and cauteries of fire. But he, when his hands had been bound behind him, and his feet were twisted in the stocks, sealed what he had said before, and spake the truth. And again, when he questioned him many times as to what city and in what country was that Jerusalem which was said to belong to the Christians only, he replied, "It is in the east, and on the side of the light of the sun," again making use of this artifice as it were in his own mind, while those who surrounded him continued to torture him with combs. Nor was he at all changed, but seemed as one who had no body. Then the judge grew furious in his mind, and imagined that perchance the Christians had built in some place a city for themselves; and so he became much more instant with tortures against them, making inquiries respecting this city, and the country in the east. When, therefore, he had punished this young man with scourging, and perceived that he varied not at all from what he had said to him at the first, he gave sentence of death against him that he should be beheaded. The rest then of the Egyptians he tried with tortures similar to his, and they likewise agreed in their confession with him who had preceded them.

And then, after these things he turned to those of the house of Pamphilos; and when he learned that they had been previously tried by many tortures, he thought that it would be folly in him to apply to them the same tortures again, and so labor in vain. He therefore only put to them the question whether they would now comply; and when he heard from them one after another the words of confession, he condemned them in the same manner as those who had preceded them, and gave sentence against them that they should be beheaded. And before the whole of the sentence was uttered, a youth from among the men, who was a slave of Pamphilos, cried out from the midst of the crowd which was standing round about the place of judgment; and then came forward into the midst, and cried out again with a loud voice to persuade the governor to grant permission for the bodies of the confessors to be buried. And he was no other than the blessed Porphyrios, the beloved disciple of Pamphilos, the mighty man of valor. But Porphyrios himself was not yet eighteen years old; and he had been instructed in literature and writing, and for his modesty and manners was deserving of all praise. This youth then, who had been brought up by such a man, when he was informed of the sentence which had been issued against his master, cried out from the middle of the crowd, and begged the bodies of the confessors. Then that wretch, who is not worthy to be called a man, but rather a savage brute, not only refused to grant this becoming request, but also neither spared nor had pity upon one who in years was but a youth; and having learned this one thing only, that he was a Christian, gave orders to those who applied the tortures to tear him with all their might. And after this, having commanded the blessed youth to sacrifice, and experiencing a refusal, he now applied the torture upon him, not as if it were upon a human body, but rather as if it were upon lifeless wood or stone, and commanded him to be torn even till they came to his bones and entrails. And when he had done this for a long while, he perceived that he was laboring to no purpose; and thus having exhibited his own cruelty and brutality upon this youth, he condemned him to be given up to a slow and lingering fire. Now, he was brought to the conflict before Pamphilos was consummated, and so departed from the body before his master who had brought him up. And thus Porphyrios exhibited himself as a warrior who was crowned with victory in all his conflicts; and although he was weak in body, he was of a cheerful countenance and courageous mind, and trod along the path of death without fear, and in truth he was full of the Holy Spirit. And when he arrived at the place where he was put to death, having put on his cloak like a philosopher, with his shoulder uncovered, he looked with his eyes up towards heaven, and in his mind looked down upon all the life of man, and approached the fire with a soul unmoved, like one who had no harm near him, and with a watchful mind, and undisturbed, he gave charge to his friends respecting his human affairs, and then was anxious to go speedily to the presence of God. When, therefore, the fire had been kindled at a distance around him, he caught at the flames here and there with his mouth, and his soul hastened to the journey which lay before him. Such was the contest of Porphyrios.

Then Seleucus carried to Pamphilos a report of all these things which had been done to Porphyrios, and as the reward for this intelligence it was granted of God to Seleucus that he should become a martyr with Pamphilos. For immediately after he had given information to Pamphilos respecting the struggle and conflict of Porphyrios, as he saluted one of the martyrs with a kiss, the soldiers laid hold upon him and took him before the governor; and as Seleucus himself was anxious to go in company with the confessors, commandment was given for him to be beheaded. And this Seleucus came from the country of Cappadocia, and had acquired a glorious reputation by his military service, having held an important command in the ranks of the army. And not only this, but he also surpassed most men in stature by the size of his person and his prowess. His appearance, too, was very handsome. Moreover, at the commencement of the persecution he had been famous for his endurance of scourgings in confession; and after he had been dismissed from his military service on account of his religion, his zeal suffered not him to abstain from doing good, and so he was anxious to serve in the beloved ranks of Christ. As a visitor, therefore, of lonely orphans, and of destitute widows, and of those who were afflicted with poverty and sickness, he became a visitor and supporter of these, and, like a tender father, endeavored to heal their afflictions. And after all these things, in which God delights more than sacrifices, and burnt-offerings, and incense, he was counted worthy of being consummated by confession. And this was the tenth combatant of those who have been mentioned above as having received all together on the same day their consummation and crown. And it seemed as if a great door of the kingdom of heaven had been opened by the confession of Pamphilos, and an abundant entrance been effected for others as well as himself into the paradise of God.

The next that was brought forward after Seleucus was the pure and pious Theodoulos; and he was one of the slaves of the governor, and the oldest of them all, and was much respected by them all, both on account of his manners and his years; and although he was the father of three generations, and had served his master with fidelity, still he had no mercy on him when he heard that he had saluted the martyrs in the same way as Seleucus. For after this had been told to his master, he was excited with fury against him much more than against the rest; and gave command that he should be put to death by the same mode of suffering as our Savior, and suffer martyrdom on the cross.

But there was still one wanted after these to complete the number twelve; and so Julian arrived from a journey, and, as if it were on purpose to make up the number of martyrs twelve, the moment he arrived, before he was yet entered into the city, immediately on the way he was told by someone respecting the matter of the confessors, and ran to have a sight of the confessors; and when he beheld the bodies of the saints lying upon the ground, he was filled with joy, and embraced them one after another with heavenly love, and saluted them all with a kiss. And while he was still visiting them, and lamenting that he himself had not suffered martyrdom with them, the officers seized him, and took him before the judge; and that judge commanded what his evil heart conceived, and delivered him also to a slow fire. So this Julian, also, with joy and gladness praised God with a loud voice for having counted him worthy of this; and his soul ascended to his Lord with the company of the confessors. And this man was by family of Cappadocia, and in his soul he was filled with the fear of God, being a quiet and religious man, and diligent in the practice of every virtue. There was also in him a glorious savor of the Holy Spirit; and he was counted worthy to be associated with the company of these who received the consummation of confession together with the blessed Pamphilos.

Four days and nights then were the bodies of the all-holy martyrs of God exposed to be devoured by wild beasts, by the command of the governor Firmillian. When, therefore, nothing had touched them, not even the wild beasts, they were taken up whole without the permission of the governor, and with due reverence committed to an honorable burial; and were laid in the interior of the churches, and so consigned to a never-to-be-forgotten memorial in the temples of the house of prayer, that they might be honored of their brethren who are with God.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Let us praise with hymns the company of twelve martyrs, Pamphilos, Paul, Samuel, Valens and Elijah, Jeremiah, Seleucus, Daniel and Porphyrios, Julian, Isaiah and Theodoulos; for they ever pray to the Master for us all.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Faced with terrible sufferings, fearlessly the Lord's athletes rejoiced; they conversed with one another heedless of the flesh. They have inherited eternal glory, ever praying for us who praise their struggles.