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August 8, 2017

Holy New Martyr Spaso (Anastasios) of Rodovis in Bulgaria (+ 1794)

St. Spaso of Rodovis (Feast Day - August 8)


The body of Anastasios was bound to torments,
Finding the lot entirely free of pain.

Saint Spaso, also called Anastasios, was born in the village of Rodovis that was situated in the Strumitza district of Bulgaria. At the age of twenty he went to Thessaloniki, where he worked as a clerk in a clothing store.

One day his superior asked him to help smuggle some clothing out of the city by putting on one of the Muslim garments in order to avoid paying taxes on the clothing. Though Spaso thought this was a dangerous thing to do, his superior insisted and he agreed.

At the city gates, Spaso was questioned by the tax collector and asked to see his export permit. Spaso foolishly replied that since he was a Muslim he did not need one. He was then asked to prove he was a Muslim by reciting the Muslim confession of faith. This made Spaso freeze, not only because he did not know it, but even if he did he did not wish to say it.

For this Spaso was beaten for insulting Islam. He was then taken to an official responsible for collecting taxes from the Christians and he was charged with tax evasion. The head tax collector sent word to the mufti asking his advice on what to do with Spaso who had evaded the tax and insulted Islam. The mufti answered that he had the authority inasmuch as in one hand he held a sword, signifying the power to punish, and in the other, paper. He was told to use whichever pleased him.

With this reply, the tax collector sent Spaso to the judge, together with five witnesses, all prepared to testify falsely. Unable to persuade Spaso to embrace Islam and escape punishment, the judge ordered for him to be beaten, put in chains, and imprisoned. The same routine took place two more times, but Spaso remained firm in his Orthodox Christian convictions.

The judge then sent Spaso to the muselimi (high administration official), who had him beaten again and devised other tortures to force Spaso to embrace Islam. The muselimi even promised Spaso a wealth of gifts, but this also failed. Spaso would respond: "I am a Christian, I will not deny my faith."

The muselimi finally sentenced Spaso to death. But Spaso cheated his tormentors, for he never arrived at the place of execution alive. He died before he arrived there as a consequence of all the beatings inflicted on him. This took place on August 8, 1794 in the city of Thessaloniki. Today Saint Spaso is the patron saint of Rodovis.

Chapel of Saint Spaso in Rodovis

Church of the Holy Trinity in Rodovis