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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Saint Fulvianus (in Baptism Matthew), Prince of Ethiopia

St. Fulvianus-Matthew (Feast Day - November 16)

It is believed that after the day of Pentecost, the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew preached the Gospel first in Palestine, and then in Syria, Media, Persia, Parthia and finally, Ethiopia. Tradition holds that the Lord appeared to Saint Matthew, giving him a wooden rod and instructing him to plant it in a particular place in Ethiopia. Upon his arrival at the place in Ethiopia described by the Lord, he met a man whom he ordained a Bishop named Platon. The rod was planted, as the Lord had instructed, and almost immediately it sprouted leaves and grew into a beautiful tree, the fruit of which was delicious. A spring also welled up nearby, the water of which could heal the sick.

Many Ethiopians were won over to Christ, although the local sovereign Prince, Fulvianus, a dedicated pagan, was violently opposed to this and, by his order, Saint Matthew was arrested and burned at the stake. When the fire flared up, everyone then saw that the fire did not harm Matthew. Then Fulvianus gave orders to add more wood to the fire, and frenzied with boldness, he commanded to set up twelve idols around the fire. But the flames melted the idols and flared up toward Fulvianus. The frightened Ethiopian turned to the Apostle with an entreaty for mercy, and by the prayer of the Apostle the flame went out. The body of Saint Matthew remained unharmed, and he departed to the Lord.

The ruler Fulvianus deeply repented of his deed, but still he had doubts. By his command, they put the body of Saint Matthew into an iron coffin and threw it into the sea. In doing this Fulvianus said that if the God of Matthew would preserve the body of the apostle in the water as He preserved him in the fire, then this would be proper reason to worship this One True God.

That night the Apostle Matthew appeared to Bishop Platon in a dream, and commanded him to go with clergy to the shore of the sea and to find his body there. Fulvianus and his retinue went with the bishop to the shore of the sea. The coffin carried by the waves was taken to the church built by the apostle. Then Fulvianus begged forgiveness of the holy Apostle Matthew, after which Bishop Platon baptized him, giving him the name Matthew in obedience to a command of God.

Soon Fulvianus-Matthew abdicated his rule and became a presbyter. Upon the death of Bishop Platon, the Apostle Matthew appeared to him and exhorted him to head the Ethiopian Church. Having become a bishop, Fulvianus-Matthew spent his remaining years preaching the gospel and winning his people to the Church.

In time, however, Fulvianus came to regret his action and agonized over his horrific act. His conscience beckoned him towards Christ. Ultimately, he embraced the Christian faith and was baptized, taking the name "Matthew." When the elderly Bishop Platon reposed, Saint Fulvianus-Matthew was consecrated to the episcopacy and succeeded him. He spent his remaining years preaching the gospel and winning his people to the Church.


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