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Saint Charalambos

February 10, 2009

The monastery has relics of St. Charalambos

Commemorated on February 10th

This Saint was a priest of the Christians in Magnesia, the foremost city of Thessaly, in the diocese having the same name.  He contested during the reign of Alexander Severus (222 A.D. – 235 A.D.), when Lucian was Proconsul of Magnesia.  At the time of his martyrdom the Saint was 103 years of age.

The invincibility of Christianity is epitomized by the superhuman endurance of the priest Charalambos, who suffered inhuman tortures and martyrdom at the hands of pagan tormentors.  No single martyr was recorded to have endured as much physical punishment as Charalambos.  He was an obscure Orthodox priest who earned his sainthood solely by his steadfastness to the Christian faith in the face of prolonged agonies.  A man of the people, Charalambos brought the light of the Lord’s love to everyone in his community.  In so doing he also brought down upon himself the envy and wrath of those in power.

The provincial governor, Lukianos, had little regard for the welfare of his people; for the Christians he had nothing but utter contempt.  A confrontation between the governor and Charalambos was inevitable, as was the result of their meeting.  After a brief exchange of formalities the governor unequivocally declared that Charalambos must renounce Christ or be punished.  This set the scene for the longest period of human suffering in the name of the Savior.  When he refused to worship the idols, his persecutors began a planned assault on his body.  Lukianos unleashed his merciless hatred for Christians.

Charalambos was first lashed to a post in the public square to be held up to a public scorn and ridicule.  Then they slashed him repeatedly with sharp knives, taking care that no wound would be fatal.  When Charalambos refused to denounce the Lord, they cut him down and dragged him through the streets by his beard.  He endured the extremely painful grating of his skin by the pebbled surface as well as the merciless kicking of sandaled feet.  Finally propping him up on his feet, they demanded that he renounce Jesus; once again he refused.

When their methods of punishment only served to draw converts to Christianity, Charalambos’ enemies sought to put him quickly to death.  The local people, however, rose in opposition to his planned death.  Charalambos had helped many afflicted people who were brought to him.  The matter was brought up before Emperor Severus, who ordered the 103 year old battered priest to be brought to Antioch, Syria.  Once there, Charalambos was led through the streets with a horse’s bit in his mouth.  Then they nailed him to a cross.  Not only did Charalambos refuse to relent, but he also refused to die.  Then they ordered him to be beheaded.  Just as his executioners were about to carry out the sentence, a voice said, “Well done, my faithful servant; enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”  At that moment he died without a blow being struck, thus denying the pagans their revenge.  The two executioners were immediately converted.

Source: The Great Horologion (Book of Hours), translated from the Greek by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery.  Also, Orthodox Saints, Spiritual Profiles for Modern Man January 1 to March 31, by George Poulos.

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