December 15, 2017

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyr Eleutherios the Koubikoularios of Constantinople

St. Eleutherios the Koubikoularios (Feast Day - December 15);
map shows the Sakarya River in Asia Minor


Eleutherios did not cower before the sword,
For his mind was always free of fear.

This Saint had as his homeland Constantinople, he shined forth in Orthodoxy, and exceeded in wealth and glory all those who at that time were glorious and rulers. For as a youth he was raised in the imperial courts, which is why he received from there his first honors. Inflicted however with eros for incorruptible and eternal good things, the blessed one did not reckon at all earthly things. Instead he preferred to have the lowest place in the courts of the Lord, rather than have the first place in the tents of sinners, as the divine David says. Thus he had the noetic eye of his soul fixated on God, he occupied himself daily with hymns and doxologies to God, and put into practice every form of the virtues. But the corrupter of our souls, the devil, could not endure seeing such good things. Therefore he handled the servant of the Saint as a one of his instruments (according to the opinion of a wise man: "To a servant their overseer is an enemy"), and he approached the impious emperor of that time [likely Julian the Apostate] by means of the servant, and he slandered the Saint, saying: "My master Eleutherios was baptized with the Baptism of the Christians and built a church. And he worships the one who was crucified, hating and turning away from imperial ordinances. And having a secret house under the earth, he offers all night vigils to Christ, and disciplines his body with fasting and tears and weeping."

Such things did the servant narrate, which inflamed the emperor with anger, so he sent for and brought before him the Saint. And standing before him, he asked peacefully and flatteringly, saying: "Why have you forsaken us, O Eleutherios, for such a long time, and despised my great love for you, as well as the imperial courts?" The Saint replied: "I have, O emperor, been suffering from various bodily ailments, which is why I sought to pass my time in a place with temperate air, that I may restore my health." "And why," said the emperor, "did you decided to receive the good and temperate air alone? For we also would have liked to have found some rest in such a good place." The Saint did not respond to this at all. Therefore the emperor by night passed over the Sangarios (Sakarya) River to the house of the Saint. There where he lived, he saw a secret door, finding a gap made in the form of a well. Entering therein he found a decorated church. This disgusted the impious one, for "reverence towards God is an abomination to a sinner" (Seirach 1:25). However, he did not threaten the Saint, but putting such threats aside, he began to flatter him with sweet words, in an effort to soften the steadfast resolve of the Martyr. Because it seemed, according to the saying, that he was beating at the air, he tried to persuade the one who was unpersuadable, and for this reason ordered for the Saint to be beheaded, and for his honorable body to be cast to the dogs and the birds to be devoured. Thus the blessed Eleutherios was beheaded, and he delivered his soul into the hands of God. His honorable body was found neglected by a pious and God-loving Christian, who was vested with the office of the Priesthood, and he took it. Having fragranced it with myrrh, he buried it in a notable place.