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Monday, October 15, 2018

Saint Barsos the Confessor, Bishop of Edessa

St. Barsos of Edessa (Feast Day - October 15)


Do not overlook the bed of Barsos,
Which gushes forth healing grace.

By Theodoret
(Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 4, Ch. 14)

Barsos, whose fame is now great not only in his own city of Edessa, and in neighboring towns, but in Phoenicia, in Egypt, and in the Thebaid, throughout which regions he had traveled with a high reputation won by his great virtue, had been relegated by Valens to the island of Aradus, but when the emperor learned that innumerable multitudes streamed there, because Barsos was full of apostolic grace, and drove out sicknesses with a word, he sent him to Oxyrhynchus in Egypt; but there too his fame drew all men to him, and the old man, worthy of heaven, was led off to a remote castle near the country of the barbarians of that district, by name Pheno. It is said that in Aradus his bed has been preserved to this day, where it is held in very great honor, for many sick persons lie down upon it and by means of their faith recover.

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By Theodoret
(Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 4, Ch. 15)

Valens, after depriving the flock of their shepherd, had set over them in his stead a wolf. The whole population had abandoned the city, and were assembled in front of the town, when he arrived at Edessa. He had given orders to the prefect, Modestos by name, to assemble the troops under his orders who were accustomed to exact the tribute, to take all who were present of the armed force, and by inflicting blows with sticks and clubs, and using if need be their other weapons of war to disperse the gathering multitude.... Then he summoned the mass of the people before him, and in gentle terms endeavored to persuade them to submit to the imperial decrees, urging that it was mere madness for a handful of men who might soon be counted to withstand the sovereign of so vast an empire. The crowd stood speechless. Then the prefect turned to their leader Eulogios, an excellent man, and said, "Why do you make no answer to what you have heard me say?" "I did not think," said Eulogios, "that I must answer, when I had been asked no question." "But," said the prefect, "I have used many arguments to urge you to a course advantageous to yourselves." Eulogios rejoined that these pleas had been urged on all the multitude and that he thought it absurd for him to push himself forward and reply; "but," he went on, "should you ask me my individual opinion I will give it you." "Well," said the prefect, "communicate with the emperor." With pleasant irony Eulogios continued, "Has he then received the priesthood as well as the empire?" The prefect then perceiving that he was not speaking seriously took it ill, and after heaping reproaches on the old man, added, "I did not say so, you fool; I exhorted you to communicate with those with whom the Emperor communicates." To this the old man replied that they had a shepherd and obeyed his directions, and so eighty of them were arrested, and exiled to Thrace.... On the quieting of the tempest and restoration of complete calm, they were ordered to return home, and were escorted by all the people, wailing and weeping, and specially by the bishop of the church, who was now deprived of their husbandry. When they reached home, the great Barsos had been removed to the life that knows no pain, and the divine Eulogios was entrusted with the rudder of the church which he had piloted; and to the excellent Protogenes was assigned the husbandry of Charrae, a barren spot full of the thorns of heathendom and needing abundant labor. But these events happened after peace was restored to the churches.

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By Sozomen
(Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 6, Ch. 34)

Barsos and Eulogios were both, at a later period than that to which we are referring, ordained bishops, but not of any city; for the title was merely an honorary one, conferred on them as a compensation for their excellent conduct; and they were ordained in their own monasteries.

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By Basil the Great
(Letter 264)

To Barsos, Bishop of Edessa, in exile.

To Barsos the bishop, truly God-beloved and worthy of all reverence and honor, Basil sends greeting in the Lord. As my dear brother Domninus is setting out to you, I gladly seize the opportunity of writing, and I greet you by him, praying the holy God that we may be so long preserved in this life as to be permitted to see you, and to enjoy the good gifts which you possess. Only pray, I beseech you, that the Lord may not deliver us for aye to the enemies of the Cross of Christ, but that He will keep His Churches, until the time of that peace which the just Judge Himself knows when He will bestow. For He will bestow it. He will not always abandon us. As He limited seventy years (Jer. 25:12) for the period of captivity for the Israelites in punishment for their sins, so perhaps the Mighty One, after giving us up for some appointed time, will recall us once again, and will restore us to the peace of the beginning — unless indeed the apostasy is now near at hand, and the events that have lately happened are the beginnings of the approach of Antichrist. If this be so, pray that the good Lord will either take away our afflictions, or preserve us through our afflictions unvanquished. Through you I greet all those who have been thought worthy to be associated with you. All who are with me salute your reverence. May you, by the grace of the Holy One, be preserved to the Church of God in good health, trusting in the Lord, and praying for me.

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By Basil the Great
(Letter 267)

To Barsos, Bishop of Edessa, in exile.

For the sake of the affection which I entertain for you, I long to be with you, to embrace you, my dear friend, in person, and to glorify the Lord Who is magnified in you, and has made your honorable old age renowned among all them that fear Him throughout the world. But severe sickness afflicts me, and to a greater degree than I can express in words, I am weighed down by the care of the Churches. I am not my own master, to go whither I will, and to visit whom I will. Therefore I am trying to satisfy the longing I have for the good gifts in you by writing to you, and I beseech your reverence to pray for me and for the Church, that the Lord may grant to me to pass the remaining days or hours of my sojourn here without offense. May He permit me to see the peace of His Churches. Of your fellow-ministers and fellow-athletes may I hear all that I pray for, and of yourself that you are granted such a lot as the people under you seek for by day and by night from the Lord of righteousness. I have not written often, not even so often as I ought, but I have written to your reverence. Possibly the brethren to whom I committed my greetings were not able to preserve them. But now that I have found some of my brethren traveling to your excellency, I have readily entrusted my letter to them, and I have sent some messages which I beg you to receive from my humility without disdain, and to bless me after the manner of the patriarch Isaac. I have been much occupied, and have had my mind drowned in a multiplicity of cares. So it may well be that I have omitted something which I ought to have said. If so, do not reckon it against me; and do not be grieved. Act in all things up to your own high character, that I, like everyone else, may enjoy the fruit of your virtue. May you be granted to me and to the Church, in good health, rejoicing in the Lord, praying for me.

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