January 29, 2018

Saint Barsimaios the Confessor, Bishop of Edessa

St. Barsimaios of Edessa (Feast Day - January 29)


Bound to the earth with burdensome flesh Barsimaios,
You were carried away where the burden is light.

Sarbelos was a pagan priest in the city of Edessa at the time of the Emperor Trajan (98-117). One day, as he was about to preside at a great idolatrous festivity wearing all his insignia of gold and precious stones, he was approached, not for the first time, by Saint Barsimaios, the holy bishop of the city whose ardent zeal for Christ led to the conversion of many of his fellow citizens, who once again warned him of the heavy account which he would have to render to God for having thus led so many souls to perdition. Sarbelos went through with the celebration but, touched by the grace of Christ, he sought out the bishop the next day, and throwing himself at his feet, asked to receive Baptism with his sister Bebaia. At Baptism Sarbelos received the name Thathuel.

News of the conversion of Sarbelos stirred the city and the governor Lysias had him brought before his tribunal where he was examined and convicted. After being tortured with his sister Bebaia, they were both martyred for their faith in Christ. After their martyrdom, the governor Lysias summoned Barsimaios and, with rods and whips, vainly endeavored to make him deny his faith. He was released from prison thanks to an Edict of Toleration issued by the Emperor Trajan, and was therefore able to govern the Church of Edessa in peace until the end of his days in c. 114.