September 25, 2019

Holy Venerable Martyr Paphnutios

St. Paphnutios the Venerable Martyr (Feast Day - September 25)


Friends of the world crucified Paphnutios,
Who formerly had been crucified to all worldly things.

Saint Paphnutios had been living the ascetic life for many years near a village called Denterah when Diocletian, that ferocious enemy of Christians, sent Arrianus to govern Egupt. Arrianus decided to seize the holy monk because of the many pagans drawn to Christ by his words and by the example of his life.

As Paphnutios was praying, an angel of the Lord appeared, telling him it was time to perfect the edifice of virtue he had been working on since his youth, by the final contest of martyrdom. "Make haste to your cell," said the angel, "and put on the ornaments in which you are vested for the ministration of the Holy Mysteries, because the time has come to offer yourself in sacrifice to the living God." So warned, the holy man gained a march on the two hundred soldiers sent to look for him, and presented himself of his own accord at the tribunal of Arrianus.

Seeing how bold he was, they put him in heavy chains and, stretching him on a trestle, beat him so cruelly that his entrails spilt onto the ground. The governor was surprised to see the Martyr's face radiant with joy under the blows and exclaimed, "What madness possesses you to prefer torture and death to sacrifice in honor of the gods?" "For us Christians," Paphnutios answered, "a death like this is not death but entry into everlasting life."

When they threw the Saint into prison, he gave himself continually to prayer for the salvation of the city, with hands uplifted to heaven, and with such power that his prison cell, all bathed in light, was as if on fire. The gaolers rushed in and saw in amazement that his hands were like two blazing torches illuminating everything around him and, from the beautiful scent coming from his body (miraculously healed by an angel, they could tell that here truly was the power of God made manifest. In this way, the Holy Martyr led not only his gaolers and fellow prisoners to the faith, but also a great many pagans, who glorified the God of the Christians when Paphnutios appeared before the governor the next day healed of his wounds.

He was once more put to the torture, this time tied to a wheel that broke his limbs as it turned, but again he was healed by the grace of Christ. On seeing this, the pagans were converted and wanted to follow him even to the contest of martyrdom at the praetorium of the Emperor Diocletian. Paphnutios truly became the Savior's disciple for he was condemned to crucifixion on a palm tree. He gave up his soul to God after hanging for seven hours in the sight of all.

The miracles wrought by divine grace during the trials of Saint Paphnutios won 546 persons to the faith. They all accomplished their martyrdom in different ways, some before Paphnutios and some after him.

From The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, vol. one.