THE THIRD MONTH
IN THE NAME
OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT,
On this day became a martyr Philopator (which is being
interpreted “lover of the Father”) Mercurius, and this name also being
interpreted is “servant of Jesus Christ.”
This holy man was a native of the city of ‘Asletes, which was
also the city of his father, and his grandfather who were born therein,
and he was brought up in the city of Rome.
Now the occupation of his father, and grandfather, and his kinsmen
was that of hunters of wild beasts. One
day they went out hunting, according to their custom, and they found two
men with the faces of dogs, and they ate his grandfather, and they also
wanted to eat his father, but the angel of the Lord prevented them from
doing so. And the angel said unto them, “Touch him not, for from him
shall go forth good fruit.” Then
the angel of the Lord surrounded them with fire, and being in tribulation,
the two Dog-faces came to the father of Saint Mercurius, and they bowed
low before him. And
straightway God changed their [savage] nature to one of gentleness, and
they became like sheep and went with him to the city.
And after he had begotten the holy man Mercurius, and called his
name “Philopator,” the Dog-faces lived with them for many days, and
then they became Christians; now the ancestors of the holy man had been in
days of old pagans. And when
they received the gift of Christian baptism, they called the father of the
holy man “Noah,” and his mother “Tabot,” and Philopator “Mercurius.”
And the Dog-faces, according to what the angel of the Lord said
unto them when he appeared unto them, were in subjection to the holy man
Mercurius, and his father. And
when the king heard the story of the Dog-faces and how God had changed
their savage natures, [he ordered his soldiers to bring in wild beasts]
before the king, and the Dog-faces destroyed all the wild beasts, which
the king brought before them. When
the king saw this he was afraid of them exceedingly, and he asked the
father of Saint Mercurius to entreat God to remove from them their savage
nature, and to make them to possess the nature of men; and he asked God,
and God changed their nature and they became like men.
Then the king took the holy father Mercurius and appointed him
governor and captain of the army, and these Dog-faces were subject unto
him, and all the people were afraid of them.
After this a certain wicked king rose up and he wished to make war
upon another king, and the king sent his soldiers to entice those
Dog-faces and to bring them to him. And that wicked king, who wished to make war on the king of
the city wherein the father of Saint Mercurius lived, enticed them.
And straightway he was angry at the Dog-faces, and he punished one
of them, who became a martyr thereby, and the other fled.
When the father of Saint Mercurius returned to the city he sought
for his son and his mother and found them not.
Now the king, having heard that the father of Saint Mercurius was
killed in battle, decided to take the mother of Saint Mercurius and marry
her. And one of the soldiers
of the king knowing what the king intended to do, went and told the mother
of Saint Mercurius what the king had decided concerning her.
When she heard this she asked him to take [her] out secretly, and
she went out with her son the blessed Mercurius.
And his father having sought for his wife and his son, and found
them not, knew not in the least what had become of them.
And the king was afraid because he thought that the Dog-faces lived
with him, and that he would become angry and would turn them loose, and
they would destroy all the city. And
the king commanded his servants not to tell him that he intended to marry
his wife. After this war
broke out against the king, and the father of Saint Mercurius went out to
fight, and the king took him prisoner. Now by the Will of God the king of Rome was a Christian.
And when he knew that the father of Saint Mercurius was a
Christian, he spared him and did not kill him, and he made him governor of
all the city of the Mardosaweyan. And
by the Will of God Saint Mercurius and his mother were in the city of
Rome, and when his father came into the church the mother of Saint
Mercurius saw him and knew that he was her husband.
One day when they were sitting in the guest house the father of
Mercurius and his soldiers rode out, and the mother of the blessed
Mercurius dressed her son in the fine raiment which he used to wear in the
royal city, and commanded him to go and mount the horse of the governor,
that is to say of his father. And
having mounted the governor’s horse, the soldiers seized him and brought
him before the governor, that is to say his father, who did not know that
he was his son, and he was angry with him.
And the mother of Mercurius came to her husband, now he did not
know that she was his wife, and she said unto him, “We are strangers,
and when I knew that thou was a stranger I thought that my son might be
with thee”; and when he asked her questions and enquired concerning her
journey she told him that she was his wife.
And straightway he knew her and he knew his son Mercurius, and he
placed [him] in the church, and they lived there together.
When the father and mother of Saint Mercurius died, the king took
him and made him governor of the city of the Mardosaweyan in his
father’s stead; and the one Dog-face that had remained with him up to
the time he was appointed governor, used to go forth with Mercurius in
battle. When they wanted to
fight God used to restore to the Dog-face his original savage nature, and
there was none who could stand before him.
And there were given to this Saint Mercurius power, and great
strength, and he was more renowned and more exalted than all the other
officers of the kingdom. Now
the Emperor of Rome in those days was called Decius and he worshipped
idols. And his enemies the Barbarians rose up against him, and he
assembled his armies and went forth to fight against them; and they were
an many as the sand of the sea, and the emperor was dismayed and was
afraid. And Saint Mercurius
said unto him, “Fear not, for God shall assuredly destroy our enemies
and bring them into our hand.” Now
Mercurius saw before him in the battle the angel of the Lord, and he had a
drawn sword in his hand, and he said unto them, “Conquer and fear not, O
Mercurius.” And after this a shining man in white apparel appeared unto
him, and he had in his hand a drawn sword, which he gave to Mercurius,
saying, “When thou hast overcome thine enemies remember the Lord thy
God.” And straightway
Mercurius conquered his enemies and returned in great joy.
Then the angel of the Lord appeared, and said unto him, “Why hast
thou forgotten and hast not remembered the Name of the Lord thy God?” And the period of the war being ended the Emperor Decius want
to offer up incense to the gods on behalf of himself and his army.
And Saint Mercurius tarried behind, and did not go forth with the
emperor to the festival in the temple.
And a certain man informed the Emperor Decius and said unto him,
“Saint Mercurius hath not come with thy army, and he hath not associated
himself with the offering of incense to the gods.”
And the emperor sent straightway and had Mercurius brought to him,
and he marveled at him, the love for him having forsaken his heart.
And the emperor said unto him, “Why hast thou forgotten thy love
for me and hast not come with me to offer incense to the gods?”
And straightway Saint Mercurius cast his girdle and his military
attire down before the Emperor Decius, and he said unto him, “I will not
deny my Lord Jesus Christ, and I will not bow down to filthy idols.” And when the Emperor Decius heard this he was exceedingly
wroth, and he commanded his soldiers to beat him with rods made of green
palm wood, and with ox-hide whips; and they did as the emperor commanded.
And straightway the emperor was afraid lest the people of the city
should rise up against him, and he bound him in irons and sent him to
Caesarea in Cappadocia, and he commanded the soldiers there to torture him
severely and to cut off his head with the sword.
And they tortured him there, even as the emperor commanded, and
they cut off his head with the sword, and he finished his fight and
received the crown of martyrdom in the kingdom of heaven.
And after he had received an incorruptible and heavenly crown, and
had entered into life everlasting, churches were built to him in all the
ends of the earth, and God made manifest in them signs and great wonders.
And some of his miracles took place when Julian, who denied our
Lord Jesus Christ, was reigning, and in the days of Saint Basil, Bishop of
the country of Caesarea and Cappadocia, even as it is written in one of
the works of Saint Basil. Now Julian the infidel had inflicted very great tribulation
upon those who believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, and he was wroth with
Saint Basil and shut him up in prison, and he multiplied his works against
the believers. And Saint
Basil gathered together the believers and he prayed and made entreaty unto
God concerning Julian the infidel, and he made intercession with Saint
Mercurius. And God heard his
prayer and sent His great and holy martyr Mercurius, and he came riding
upon a horse and he speared Julian the infidel with his spear in his head,
and the emperor died an evil death during the war in the land of Persia.
And when Saint Basil had seen this vision in the picture of Saint
Mercurius he rejoiced with very great joy.
And he came into the place wherein was the body of the great martyr
Saint Mercurius, and whilst he was sitting down there and thinking about
what he had seen, straightway the sword and the spear of Saint Mercurius
returned to their places, and from them there dropped so much blood that
the whole space beneath the picture of Saint Mercurius was full of it.
And straightway Saint Basil cried out and said, “O martyr of
Christ, to Whom be glory! Hast thou indeed killed Julian the enemy of
righteousness?” And Saint
Mercurius in the picture bowed his head before the face of Saint Basil as
much as to say, “Yea, I have killed him.”
And Saint Basil multiplied his praises to God, and he paid Him
honor and gave thanks unto Him. And
Saint Mercurius wrought very many signs and wonders.
And there was a certain young Muslim who was a son of one of the
officers of the city of Mesr (Cairo), and he was learned in the Law of the
Muslims but had since been baptized with Christian baptism.
Then one of the king’s guards seized him, and he made ready a
deep pit and lighted a great fire therein in order that he might burn him
in it; and many men gathered together to see him [burnt].
And that young Muslim drew nigh unto the martyr whom the royal
guard had seized, and he said unto him, “O infidel, why dost thou run to
enter into Sheol? At thine
end thou wilt sit in the fire of Gahannam, because thou dost attribute a
Son to God, and dost confess Three Persons.
Hearken unto me and abandon thy blasphemy and thine abominable
words.” And the Christian
answered and said unto him, “We Christians are not infidels, but we
worship One God, and He is Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost.
The Son is not alien to God His Father, for He is His Word.
Likewise the Holy Spirit, the mystery of our Faith, is wonderful,
and is hidden from you, because your heart is not able to bear Him, and
thy heart at this moment is dark and the light of the Faith illumineth it
not. But I can see that after
a few days the light shall draw nigh unto thee, and that the light of
Christ shall shine in thine heart. And
thou shalt fight spiritually even as do I for His Name, and thou shalt
feel the same pain which I am now suffering.”
When the Muslim heard his words he was exceedingly worth with him,
and he put off his sandals from his feet and buffeted the face and mouth
and head of the Christian and punished him severely, and he said unto him,
“What thou sayest shall never happen to me, O thou infidel.” And the blessed man answered and said unto him, “Needs must
that thou remember what I say unto thee.”
And straightway they cut off his head with the sword, and they
threw his body into the pit of fire, and the flames of that fire mounted
upwards and became like a great wall.
And the body of the Christian remained in that fire three days and
three nights, and the royal guard watched him by day and by night, and
afterwards they found the body and it was tried like gold and the fire had
not touched it all; and they told this to the king, and he commanded the
soldiers to bury the body. And
the young Muslim went into his house being sorrowful, and he neither ate
nor drank. And his father,
and mother, and brethren gathered about him, and they said unto him,
“What hath happened to thee? Why
dost thou neither eat nor drink?” And
he told them what the martyr of our Lord Jesus Christ had said unto him,
and they comforted him, and they said unto him, “Put aside the word
which this erring man spoke unto thee, and dismiss his prediction from thy
heart”; but he was in no wise comforted.
And in those days that young Muslim saw many Muslims, and they were
wishing to go to the tomb of their lying prophet, and he said unto his
father, “I should like to go with them”; and his father rejoiced
exceedingly at these words, and he gave him one hundred dinars, and
committed him to the care of his friend, and the young man departed.
And as the young man was journeying with his friend, he saw a
vision one night, and it seemed that an aged monk, shining with light,
stood up by his side, and that he said unto him, “Come, follow me that
thou mayest be saved”; and the monk appeared again on the second night,
and again on the third night, and each time he spoke unto him as above.
When they had finished their business, having arrived at their
destination, they turned back, and journeyed for a period of six days in
the desert. And as they were traveling by night the young man got down
from his camel because of a bodily need, and his companions left him and
departed; and he remained by himself lost in the desert, and he wept,
being afraid lest the wild beasts should eat him.
Then he remembered the church of Saint Mercurius the martyr in the
city of Mesr (Cairo), which was near his father’s house, and he said in
his heart, “Every man makes vows to him, and he fulfils for them
everything which they ask him.” And
straightway the young man said, as he wept, “O Mercurius, martyr of
Christ, if thou wilt deliver me from the wild beasts of the desert, and
wilt bring me out safe from the desert, I will become a Christian.”
And having said this, behold there came unto him a young man riding
upon a horse, and his appearance was exceedingly goodly, and he was
wearing glorious apparel, and his loins were girt with a girdle of gold,
and he stood before him and said unto him, “Whence comest thou?
Why art thou alone and lost in this desert?”
And he said unto him, “I got down [from my camel] because of a
bodily need, and they left me and departed.”
And the man on the horse said unto him, “Come, get up behind me
on this horse,” and he mounted the horse with him, and the horse flew
through the air, and brought them quickly to the church of Mercurius the
martyr in the city of Mesr (Cairo). And
the doors of the church flew open to him, and he went in with him on the
horse, and he brought him to the martyrium of the sanctuary, and then
disappeared from him and was no more seen.
And the young Muslim stood up in the church frightened, and he said
in his heart, “Is this one of the churches of the Christians?”
And he saw the lamps burning before the picture [of the saint], and
this seemed to him to be a dream, and he said, “Am I not still sitting
down in the desert?” And he
remained in the sanctuary until the dawn.
And the steward of the church came and found him standing in the
sanctuary, and he thought that he was a thief, and the steward wanted to
cry out, but the young Muslim made a sign to him with his hand, and he
said unto him, “Come to me”; and the steward went to him.
And the young man said unto him, “What is this place?”
And the steward said unto him, “This is the church of Saint
Mercurius of Mesr (Cairo).” And
the young man said unto him, “Is this the city of Mesr (Cairo)?”
And the steward said unto him, “Yea,” and he added, “It seems
that thou art too stupefied to talk to me; but now, O my brother, make me
to know what hath happened to thee.”
Then straightway courage returned to the young man, and he said
unto him, “How can I help being stupefied? Seeing that during the past
night I was in such and such a desert.
And I have no knowledge whatsoever of how I came here; only God
knows.” When the steward heard the name of that desert he marveled,
and said unto the young man, “Did I not say rightly that thou art
stupefied, and that thou dost not know what thou art saying?
The journey from that desert to this place occupies twelve days.
Verily thou art a thief, and it is the might of the blessed martyr
Mercurius that hath seized thee and bound thee here without ropes and
fettering irons. This
Mercurius the blessed martyr forsook the glory of this world and thrust it
away, and the infidels tortured him with severe tortures for the Name of
Christ, and the martyr died and God received him into His kingdom, and
churches are built in his name everywhere; and in them the saint praises
God, and makes intercession for all men.
And for all those who commit themselves to him in prayer he makes
intercession, and he makes manifest miracles.”
And the young man said unto the steward, “What are his form and
features like?” and the steward said unto him, “He resembles thee in
stature”; and then he showed him the picture of the saint.
When the young man saw the picture of Saint Mercurius the martyr,
he said unto the steward, “Verily this is the holy man who appeared unto
me in the desert, and who bore me on his horse, and brought me hither.
And behold, this is the girdle of gold wherewith I saw his loins
girt.” And he said unto the
steward, “Behold, I tell thee that I am a Muslim, I belong to this city,
and the name of my father is Raga, the judge; this miracle is sufficient
to make me become a Christian. And
now hide me, and do not reveal my business to any man.
And also bring me a aged priest that he may teach me the way of
God, and may strengthen me in the True Faith, and may bring me . . . ”
And the steward put him in a place by himself, and brought to him a
priest, even as he said, and the priest baptized him with Christian
baptism, and brought to him the Books of the Church and the Gospel; and he
remained thus. And about one
month after this those men who had journeyed to Mecca arrived, and all the
Muslims who were their kinsmen went out to meet them.
And the judge, the father of the young man, met the friend, who
wept bitterly, and he told the judge how his son had stayed behind in the
desert, and how they had left him and come on.
When his father heard this he rent his garments, and his brethren
and the young men also rent their garments, and they sat down and mourned
for three days. After this a
certain Muslim woman saw the young man who had become a Christian coming
out of the church of Saint Mercurius.
And a Muslim (sic) went and told his father and his brethren
[this], and said unto them, “If it were not that your son died in the
desert on the Mecca road, I should be inclined to say that the young man
whom I saw this day by the church of Saint Mercurius the martyr was he; he
was wearing the white apparel which the monks wear, and in truth he was
like your son.” When the father and mother and brethren of the young man
heard this they rose up, and went [there] and found him, and they seized
him, and said unto him, “What hast thou done?
And why hast thou put me to shame among the Muslim nobles?”
And he said unto them, “I am a Christian, and I believe in our
Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Most High; blessed be
His Name!” Immediately he
had said this they punished him very severely, and they cast him into a
dark pit, and he remained there for seven days and seven nights without
food and drink, and they poured urine upon him and cast the filth from
their houses on him. And his
mother wept over him day and night, and by reason of her excessive weeping
they drove away the young man, and he departed to the desert of Scete, and
he dwelt in the desert of Abba Macarius for a period of two years, and he
fought a strenuous fight, and devoted himself to the ascetic life.
After this a certain monk said unto him, “Would it not be
profitable to thee without [delay] to go to the city of Mesr (Cairo) and
proclaim thy Faith openly?” And
he rose up and went to Mesr (Cairo), and his father seized him and took
him to King Hakem, who is called “Governor” (i.e. Khalifah), and he
said unto him, “Our son hath forsaken the Muslim faith, and hath entered
the Christian Faith.” And
the Khalifah said unto the young man, “Is this true what they say about
thee?” And he told the
Khalifah what had happened to him in Mecca, and how Saint Mercurius had
appeared unto him, and how he had seated him with himself on his horse,
and how he had brought him into his shrine in the twinkling of an eye and
had taken him into the church of Mesr (Cairo), and how he had seen the
picture of the saint in the church, and how he knew that it was he who had
appeared unto him in the desert. And
when Hakem the Khalifa, the infidel, heard this he spoke many words and he
feared with a great fear. And
he said unto the young man, “What dost thou want?”
And he said unto him, “I ask thee to give me authority to build a
church in the name of Saint Mercurius the martyr”; and the Khalifah gave
him authority to build a church there in the name of Michael the
archangel, and he built a second church--in the name of Mercurius the
martyr, and great signs and wonders took place therein.
And he composed two books, one on the Grace of God and the gift of
the Holy Spirit, and the other on the True Faith.
And he vanquished in debate the wicked, and the pagans, and the
Muslims, and he pleased God and died in peace.
Now the name of this young man was “John,” which was given to
him when they baptized him. All
this took place through the prayer of Saint Mercurius the martyr, and the
multitude of his miracles. Salutation
to Mercurius of Rome, who rode a black horse.
And on this day also are commemorated Acarius and Romanus.
be to God Who is glorified in His Saints.