December 11, 2017

Holy Martyr Barsabas of Persia

St. Barsabas the Martyr (Feast Day - December 11);
illustration depicts Persian martyrs under Shapur II


"Sacrifice Barsabas and live, and you shall be redeemed from the sword."
"I desire to live above, and am ready to die now by the sword."

The Holy Martyr Barsabas of Persia boldly confessed Christ as true God during the reign of Shapur II (309-379). He had been the abbot over ten monks at a monastery near Persepolis. Those who worshiped the sun had them all arrested, and for their bold confession they were sentenced to be beheaded. This brought cheer to the assembly of monastic fathers, for they awaited the good promise of the everlasting kingdom and heavenly good things.

At the trial, the executioners addressed Barsabas as follows: "Offer sacrifice, Barsabas, to the idols that you may be delivered from the sword and death, and thus gain life." The Martyr responded: "I desire to live on high in the heavens and not down here on earth. Therefore, bring the sword down on me now, and let me be put to death."

Among the executioners was a Persian Magi, who upon witnessing the trial was consumed with divine zeal to emulate the holy fathers and reject his ancestral impiety. He understood that faith in Christ instills peace and serenity in its followers, while the beliefs of his ancestors was a delusion and deceit. Thus he exchanged the attire of his office with that of a servant, and rushed forward to enter the contest with the monks.

Therefore Barsabas, his monastic brotherhood, and the former Magi drenched the ground with their blood, and received from Christ the crown of martyrdom.