Commemorated on April 19
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
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
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.