The MonkMartyr Agathangelos

Commemorated on April 19

      The MonkMartyr Agathangelos, in the world Athanasias, was born in the city of Aena, the Thracian district, and was raised in a strict Orthodox family. After the death of his parents he became a sailor. The Turks decided to convert the skilled and intelligent youth to Islam. They knew, that he would not renounce Christ of his own good will, and in the city of Smyrna they pounced on the saint, inflicted a wound on him and threatening him with death, demanded that he accept Islam. The youth was terrified and promised to call himself a musselman in the hope of soon to be free of the bullies and disdain this promise. But for a long time he did not succeed, he was tormented by the stings of conscience and finally he found the opportunity to quit the city to seek refuge on Holy Mount Athos. At the Esthygmena monastery the hegumen, Euthymios, confessed him and gave him blessing to become a novice, which Saint Athanasias entered into with great fervour.
      But even by his most intense efforts Saint Athanasias considered it insufficient to atone for his sin of apostasy. He sensed, that it would be necessary for him to give up his life for the faith in Christ, and he began fervently to pray concerning this.
      On the fourth Sunday of the Great Lent the nineteen year old youth took monastic vows with the name Agathangelos.
      Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker appeared to the newly-made monk in a dream and promised him his help. The hegumen of the monastery saw in this a special sign and gave blessing to Saint Agathangelos to confess his faith in Christ at Smyrna in front of those very ones who forced him into renunciation.
      In the Ottoman courtroom the confessor told, how by force they had compelled him to accept an alien faith, and he publicly renounced Islam and confessed himself a Christian. They began to cajole and admonish Saint Agathangelos. He replied: "I will not give in to you, neither by your threats nor by your promises. Christ only do I love, my Christ only do I follow, in my Christ only do I hope to know bliss". The judge began to threaten him with death by torture. "I am prepared to endure all for my Christ! I accept every manner of torment with the greatest joy! I ask only that thou not tarry in carrying out thy word", answered the saint.
      They bound Saint Agathangelos and slapped him in heavy chains, hammered his feet into wooden boots and threw him in prison. Together with him were situated there two other wrongly condemned Christians. One of them, Nicholas, after the death of the monkmartyr gave an account of his torture.
      On the following day Saint Agathangelos in fetters was again brought before the judge. Bravely enduring all the torments which the Turks had readied for him, he again was sent off to prison. Nicholas reported to him, that a certain influential man would intervene before the judge for his release, but Saint Agathangelos in a note to this man asked not to gain him freedom, but rather that he might pray to God that he be strengthened for the deed of martyrdom.
      The saint readied himself for the final trial. At midnight in a vision it was revealed to him, that they would execute him not later than five o'clock, and he joyfully began to await the appointed hour. At about the fourth hour a watch was put over him. Not seeing any possibility to convert the steadfast confessor from his faith in Christ, the judges decided to execute him. Absorbed in prayer, the martyr did not take notice the preparations for executions nor the large throng of people. He was beheaded at about the fifth hour of the morning, on 19 April 1819. Christians gathered up the holy remains of the martyr and buried them in the city of Smyrna, in the church of the GreatMartyr George.
      In the year 1844 part of the remains of the MonkMartyr Agathangelos were transferred to Holy Mount Athos to the Esthygmena monastery.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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