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March 17, 2018

Holy Venerable Martyr Paul of Crete (+ 764)

St. Paul of Crete (Feast Day - March 17)

Verses

Paul was inflamed with zeal for the icons,
For these he was burnt in the flame of the furnace.

We read about the Holy Venerable Martyr Paul in the Life of Saint Stephen the New. During his last imprisonment Stephen was confined in the Praetorium of Constantinople in the company of 342 monks, all of whom suffered various kinds of mutilation and ill-treatment on behalf of their veneration of the holy icons, probably in 764. While in prison, the conversation turned to recent martyrdoms, and Anthony the Cretan reported that the first victim of the persecution was a certain monk named Paul who was from Crete.

Saint Paul suffered martyrdom during the reign of Emperor Constantine V Copronymos (741-775) around the year 764. He was an abbot in Crete and spiritual father who venerated the holy icons. After being ordered to trample on an icon of Christ on the cross, he was promised by the strategos of Crete, Theophanes Lardotyros, that his life would be spared if he obeyed the order. Paul refused, and instead performed an act of veneration towards the icon instead. For this he was nailed to some planks, turned upside down and burnt alive. In this way he received the crown of martyrdom.