Commemorated on November 24
GreatMartyr Mercurius (Mercury), a Skyth by descent, served as a soldier in
the Roman army. The impious emperors Decius (249-251) and Valerian (253-259)
issued a law, ordering all Roman citizens to worship the pagan gods and
condemning Christians to death.
During these times
barbarians attacked the Roman empire, and the emperor Decius went on campaign
with a large army. In one of the battles an Angel of the Lord appeared to
Mercurius and presented him a sword with the words: "Fear not. Go forth
bravely against the enemy. And when thou art victorious, forget not the Lord
thy God". With this sword the holy warrior broke through the ranks of the
barbarian horde; he destroyed an hoste of the enemy and killed the leader of
the barbarians, winning victory for the Romans. The grateful emperor rewarded
Saint Mercurius for his bravery, and made him a military commander.
The Angel of the Lord
appeared again to the holy warrior, who had received great honours and riches,
and reminded him by Whom the victory had been given, and bidding him to serve
the Lord. Saint Mercurius recalled that his father Gordian had also confessed
the Christian faith; – he himself had been baptised and with all his soul he
yearned for Christ. He refused to participate in the solemn offering of
sacrifice to the pagan gods and was summoned before the dread emperor. Openly
declaring himself a Christian, Mercurius threw down at the feet of the emperor
his soldier's belt and mantle and he repudiated all the honours. The Angel of
the Lord again appeared to Saint Mercurius in the prison, encouraging him and
inspiring him to bravely endure all the suffering for Christ.
They stretched the
holy martyr over fire; they cut at him with knives, and lashed at him so much,
that the blood from his wounds extinguished the fire. But each time, when they
threw him back into the prison nearly dying from his wounds, Saint Mercurius
received complete healing from the Lord, manifesting before the impious the
great power of faith in Christ. Condemned to a sentence of death, the saint was
deemed worthy of a vision of the Lord Himself, promising him a quick release
from his sufferings. The GreatMartyr Mercurius was beheaded at Caesarea
Cappadocia. His holy body exuded fragrant myrh and incense, bestowing healing
on many of the sick.
Even after his death
the warrior of Christ, united unto the Heavenly Church, served a soldier's
service for the good of the earthly Church. Through the prayer of Sainted Basil
the Great (Comm. 1 January) in front of an icon of the MostHoly Mother of God for
deliverance of Christians under persecution of the Christian faith by the
emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), the Mediatrix for Christians dispatched
the holy Warrior Mercurius in assist from the Church Triumphant unto the Church
Militant. The image of the holy GreatMartyr Mercurius, depicted on the icon
alongside the image of the MostHoly Mother of God, became invisible. It
reappeared again later with a bloodied spear.
At this very moment
Julian the Apostate on his Persian campaign was pierced by the spear of an
unknown assailant, who disappeared immediately. The mortally wounded Julian, as
he lay dying, cried out: "Thou hast conquered, Galileian!"
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.