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February 14, 2022

Holy New Martyr Damian the Monk (+ 1568)

St. Damian the New (Feast Day - February 14)
 By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

Having received the fruit of the Gospel, blessed one,
You received your end through hanging O Damian.

This new athlete of Christ, Damian, came from a village called Myriochovos located north of Agrafa (northern Greece). He was born of pious parents and when still young he longed for the monastic life. Leaving behind the world and worldly things, he made his way to Mount Athos, to the Sacred Monastery of Philotheou. There he became a monk. Having stayed a little while in the monastery, he then set off to become an hesychast, so that he could strive even more for the virtues. He went to a wonderworking ascetic named Dometios, who had retreated off to a quiet place. He stayed with him for almost three years and practiced all the virtues with such great willingness and accuracy that he was found worthy to hear a divine voice tell him: “Damian, you must not seek your own interest only, but that of others as well.” Afterward, he immediately left Mount Athos and went to Mount Olympus, where he preached God's word to the villages there in a brilliant voice, teaching and inciting Christians to repent and abstain from all injustices and all other evils and to keep God's commandments, doing works that are good and pleasing to God.

But the devil, the hater of good, prompted many of the so-called Christians, who also proved impious in their works. They blamed the saint, calling him a deceiver and a fraud, and they persecuted him in various ways, planning to murder him as well. But the saint, imitating Christ, put anger to the side and departed, going to the areas of Kissavo and Larissa, preaching God's word. And having gone through the same things there too, he parted for the far northern parts of Agrafa, where he taught the Christians to remain firm in their faith and to obey God's commandments. The devil, however, did not give up but rose up some impious and ungodly men against him, who persecuted him and called him a deceiver and a sham of a monk. And so, leaving those areas as well, the saint returned to Kissavo and built a monastery there so that there would be no uproar. Together with other monks, he sent up his prayers to God daily. Many visited him there as well in order for their souls to be profited from his beneficial teachings, as he was very knowledgeable and filled with holy gifts.

However, one time, as he was going to a village called Voulgarini for some of the monastery's needs, he was caught by some Hagarenes (Turks) and was handed over to the governor of Larissa. They said that Damian was restraining the Christians from selling or buying on Sundays and was teaching them to remain firm in their faith in Christ. So the ruler commanded that they beat him brutally, place heavy chains around his neck and feet and throw him into prison. He harshly tortured the saint for fifteen days in various ways, at times using threats and at others using flattery and bribes, exhorting him to deny his faith in Christ. He was not able to change his mind but instead saw that Damian bravely criticized their religion and their prophet and preached with great outspokenness Christ the true God, and that he was willing out of love to succumb to countless tortures. The governor became completely aflame from anger and ordered him to be put to death by hanging and afterwards be thrown in fire. So the executioners, having taken him away, hanged him. However, because one of them hit the martyr on the head with an axe, the rope was cut and the martyr fell to the ground half-dead. And while still alive they took him and threw him into the fire and cast his ashes in the Pinios River. And so, the blessed Holy Martyr Damian received the crown of martyrdom. Through his intercessions, may we also survive the traps of the enemy and be found worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.       

From The New Martyrology.