April 19, 2017

Holy New Martyrs Christodoulos and Anastasia of Patras (+ 1821)

Sts. Christodoulos and Anastasia of Patras (Feast Day - Bright Tuesday)

When the Revolution of 1821 began, Patras fell into a degraded state. A mother with her two daughters and a son, a wealthy family, attempted to flee to the French Embassy in order to escape harm. They did not succeed. Arrested by the Turks, they were brought to Pasha Yusuf. They begged on their knees to be spared, but the Pasha was firm. Their only solution to avoid death was to change their faith. They lamented and grieved the threat, and trembled from fear of death. Eventually they denied Christ, and entered the harem of the Pasha.

Their maid however, whose name was Anastasia, a humble girl, was also encouraged to deny her faith, but she resisted the proposal, and said to the Pasha:

"My God is the God of your false prophet. You can threaten, but His thunder echoes louder than the cries of your rabid guards. Look at the sky, unhappy infidel, for there dwells the Virgin. She extends her hands to me. I see her. How sweet is her smile. She invites me: 'Come, my dove.' Rejoice, Queen of Angels. Rejoice, morning star. Receive your servant, Anastasia. Be baptized, Vizier, and deny your error. I feel it; my Savior is calling me near."

By saying these things, she delivered her soul, before the executioners could pollute and kill her.

"You escaped me!" shouted Pasha Yusuf. He then approached a young fourteen year old boy, the son of a priest, named Christodoulos, saying:

"My prophet has already struck her, as you yourself saw, this unfortunate one who was not afraid to curse his name. Tremble lest you also have the same fortune as she. Say what I say: 'There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.'"

Instead of responding to him, the Child-Martyr said:

"Christ is Risen!"

"Muhammad is better."

"Only Christ is Risen."

"I will slaughter you like a goat!"

"Christ is Risen!"

Soldiers then rushed furiously against him. The Pasha ordered them to take pity on him, yet he condemned him to a penalty of five-hundred stripes, which would be delivered over a period of fourteen days. He immediately received the first stripes, and was urged to deny Christ, but he glorified Christ. This torture took place daily over fourteen days. To the promptings of denial, the boy said:

"My body belongs to you, but my soul to God. Never will I abandon Him, nor the Virgin Mary."

When the penalty had been paid, Yusuf dismissed him saying to his soldiers:

"Muhammad doesn't want this Christian dog. His resistance is sufficient proof. Let us let him go."

The Martyr of Christ left, and shortly after delivered his holy soul to His devoted Lord, to receive the crown of the contest. This took place on Palm Sunday, 3 April 1821.

His bloodstained clothes became precious to the Christians, and were kept as miraculous relics.

In Patras their memory is celebrated on the Tuesday of Renewal Week.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.