Tuesday, February 11, 2014

St. Haralambos

Below is the version of the life and martyrdom of St. Haralambos that I edited from the Orthodoxwiki entry, simplifying it to share with my children:

St. Haralambos
February 10
glowing with joy

The holy, glorious, right-victorious martyr Charalampus (or Haralambos) was a priest or bishop in the city of Magnesia in Thessaly during the late second and early third century. He was martyred, having openly preached the Gospel during persecutions during the reign of Alexander Severus (222-235), when Lucian was Proconsul of Magnesia.

Charalampus is a most wonderful saint who lived to a very old age. He was 113 when he was tortured and later martyred. The Emperor Severus had appointed Lucian as the governor of the territory of Magnesia where Charalampus was a priest. Lucian was upset that Charalampus was converting so many pagans. He had him arrested and commanded him to honor the stone gods. Since he would not do this, Lucian began to torture him. They used a tool that would flay the skin and they cut his skin to shreds. All the while, Charalampus gave thanks to our Lord. His strength amazed the executioners and they were converted. The military commander, Lucius, was angry and had his two officers Porphyrios and Vaptos beheaded. Three other women were converted, and were also killed. Then miraculously, the general's hands were severed at the elbow and he saw them hanging from the martyr's body. Fear spread throughout the city. People began to beg mercy from the God Charalampus professed. The general begged for mercy from Charalampus. The Lord's voice was heard and instantly all those injured were healed. The general was converted and baptized. The Governor Lucian stopped persecuting the Christians until he could report back to the emperor. Meanwhile, Charalampus performed many miracles, healing the sick, curing the blind, and even raising some from the dead. The whole region came to believe in Jesus Christ.

But they continued to persecute him and subject him to many tortures. Finally, the prefect Crispus demanded that Charalampus be beheaded. The emperor pronounced the sentence. The saint chanted holy hymns on the way to his execution. He began to pray thus: "I ever give thanks to thee, O Lord my God, for thou are merciful and the Lover of mankind. Thou, O Almighty, hast cast down our enemy, the evil one, and taken Hades captive, and put death to death, thus delivering the race of man. Remember me, O Lord, in thy kingdom." After he had prayed in this manner, the heavens opened. The Lord, with a multitude of his angels, came down. It was a spectacle full of wonder. The Lord was seen to be sitting on a throne of pearl. He said to his holy priest and martyr, "Come, my pleasing and beloved one, who, for my name's sake, suffered such ill-treatment and hardships. Ask of me whatsoever gift thou dost wish, and I shall grant thine entreaty."

Charalampus answered, "That thou hast, by thy grace, vouchsafed me, the least person, to behold the awesome glory of thy presence, is, in itself, a tremendous gift. But if it please thy goodness to command me to ask a gift of thee, I beseech thy majesty and dominion to grant this favor: to whomever should find or possess a portion of my relics, and in whatsoever land he may be celebrating the memory of my martyrdom, may he never suffer from hunger or plague or pestilence or an untimely death or destruction from an evil man or injury to crops. I pray that he be in firm peace, salvation of soul, and health of body. I entreat that he enjoy plenty of wheat, oil, and wine, together with an abundance of livestock and other good and useful possessions. And to whomsoever should read the account of my martyrdom, and invoke my name, I supplicate for his salvation and that he should not suffer evil. Since thou knowest that men are but flesh and blood, and that they are in thine immaculate hands, I beseech thee for the forgiveness of their sins. Do thou pardon the sins of such faithful ones, as thou are good and the Lover of mankind. Do thou also, O Lord, keep the oxen of such in health, and all their animals and livestock, that they may cultivate the earth and abundantly enjoy her fruits, to the glory of thy name." Charalampus then surrendered his soul to the Lord.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O wise Charalampos, you were proven an unshakable pillar of the Church of Christ; an ever-shining lamp of the universe. You shone in the world by your martyrdom. You delivered us from the moonless night of idolatry O blessed one. Wherefore, boldly intercede to Christ that we may be saved.

Memory Verses and Lessons:
Christ is the Light of the World
And, you are the light of the world

I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
- John 8:12

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
- Matthew 5: 3 – 11

Scripture readings for the feast are the following: At Vespers: Isaiah 43; Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9; Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-6:3. At the Matins: Luke 21:12-19. At the Divine Liturgy: II Timothy 2:1-10; John 15:17-16:2. (If the feast falls on a Sunday the Gospel readings may vary.)

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