The PriestMartyr Artemon

Commemorated on April 13

      The PriestMartyr Artemon was born of Christian parents in Syrian Laodiceia in the first half of the III Century. From the time of his youthful years he dedicated himself to the service of the Church. At 16 years of age the saint was made a reader and in this position he laboured during the course of 12 years. For his zealousness in Divine Services, Sainted-bishop Sisinios ordained him to the dignity of deacon. Saint Artemon did also this service with fervour and diligence for 28 years, after which he was ordained to the priesthood. And in this dignity Saint Artemon served the Church of God for 33 years, preaching the Christian faith amongst pagans. When the emperor Diocletian (284-305) began a fierce persecution against christians, Saint Artemon was already old. The emperor issued an edict, that all christians were to offer sacrifice to idols.
      Saint Sisinios, knowing about the impending arrival in the Laodiceian district of the military-commander Patricius, went together with the priest Artemon into the pagan-temple of the goddess Artemis. There they smashed and burnt the idols.
      Afterwards, Saint Sisinios and Saint Artemon gathered the flock into the church and heatedly exhorted the christians to remain firm in the faith and not fear the threats of torturers.
      Having arrived in Laodiceia, Patricius made a five-day celebration in honour of the pagan gods, and then went off to the temple of Artemis to offer sacrifice. He learnt who it was that had destroyed the temple, and set off with a detachment of soldiers to the church where the christians were praying. Not yet having gotten in front of the church, Patricius suddenly felt a chill, and afterwards heat, such that it left him hardly alive, and they entered into the first house they found along the way. "The Christians have put a curse on me, and this their God tormenteth me", he said to those about him. The prayers of Patricius to the idols did not relieve his sufferings. He dispatched a messenger to Saint Sisinios and asked for his help, promising by way of thanks to make a gold statue of the bishop. The Saint answered: "Thy gold keep to thyself, but if thou wishest to be healed, believe in Christ".
      Patricius was afraid of dying and he declared that he believed in Christ. Through the prayer of Saint Sisinios the affliction left him. But even a miracle having been worked did not alter the obdurate soul of the pagan. Although he did not touch Saint Sisinios, he however set off to enforce the imperial edict against other christians in the city of Caesarea. Along the way he encountered an old man, for whom there went in pairs six wild donkeys and two deer. This man was the priest Artemon.
      To Patricius' query, how he was able to lead after him these wild beasts, Saint Artemon answered, that everything in the world confesses the Name of Christ and with true faith in Christ nothing is impossible.
      Patricius learned from the pagans that the old man he met along the way was the same Artemon, who had destroyed the pagan temple of Artemis. He gave orders to seize him and take him to the city of Caesarea.
      Saint Artemon went along with the soldiers without fear, but he ordered the animals to go to Saint Sisinios.
      One of the donkeys received the gift of speech from God and told the sainted-bishop that he had come from Saint Artemon. The sainted-bishop sent him in Caesarea a blessing and prosphora by deacon.
      In Caesarea Patricius summoned Saint Artemon to trial and began to try to force him to offer sacrifice in the pagan temple of Asclepios. In this pagan temple there lived many poisonous vipers. The pagan priest never opened up the doors, nor previously carried in the sacrifice to the idol. But Saint Artemon, calling on the Name of Jesus Christ, went into the temple and let out from there the plethora of snakes. The pagans turned in flight, but the saint stopped them and by his breath killed the snakes. One of the pagan priests, Bitalios, believed in Christ and asked Saint Artemon to baptise him.
      Patricius thought that Saint Artemon killed the snakes by means of sorcery, and he again started to interrogate and torture him. At this point in time there arrived in Caesarea the donkey which had spoken with Saint Sisinios. The donkey lay down at the feet of the martyr, and afterwards again having received from God the gift of speech, it denounced Patricius, predicting for him an impending death in a boiling cauldron. Patricius was scared, that the miracles done by Saint Artemon would draw still more people to him, and he gave orders to execute him.
      The filled an enormous cauldron with boiling tar. Soldiers were needed to throw Saint Artemon therein. But when Patricius rode up on horseback to the kettle, wanting to be sure that the tar was indeed boiling, two Angels in the guise of eagles seized and threw him into the cauldron, but Saint Artemon remained alive. Through the prayer of the saint there issued from the ground a spring of water, in which he baptised the pagan priest Bitalios and many pagans, who had come to believe in Christ. On the following morning Saint Artemon communed the newly-baptised with the Holy Mysteries.
      The bishop of Caesarea went to visit with Saint Artemon. He cleared off the place where the martyr suffered, and afterwards was built a church there. Many of the baptised were ordained to the deaconate and priesthood, and Bitalios was made bishop of Palestine. The Priestmartyr Artemon, through a calling by the Divine Voice, went preaching the Gospel into Asia, to the settlement of Bulos. Along the way an Angel appeared to him and transported him openly in view of the villagers. He converted many there to faith in Christ. Pagans seized the saint and beheaded him (+ 303).

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The PriestMartyr
Artemon

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