Science of the Saints, 23 January, Hieromartyr Clement of Ancyra

The Hieromartyr Clement was born in the Galatian city of Ancyra in the year 258, from a pagan father and a Christian mother. In infancy he lost his father, and at twelve years of age also his mother, who predicted for him a martyr’s death for belief in Christ. A woman adopting him named Sophia raised him in the fear of God. During the time of a terrible famine in Galatia several pagans cast out their own children, not having the wherewithal to feed them, and Sophia gathered up also these hapless ones, she fed and clothed them, and Saint Clement assisted her in this. He taught the children and prepared them for Holy Baptism. Many of them died as martyrs for the faith in Christ.

For his virtuous life Saint Clement was made a reader, and later a deacon, and at age eighteen he received the dignity of presbyter, and at age twenty he was ordained bishop of Ancyra. Soon afterwards there flared up the persecution against Christians under Diocletian (284-305). Bishop Clement was arrested under denunciation and had also to answer for himself. The governor of Galatia, Dometian, tried to sway the saint to the worship of the pagan gods, but Saint Clement firmly confessed his faith and valiantly endured all the tortures, to which the cruel official subjected him. They suspended him on a tree, and tore at his body such that the bare bones could be seen. They struck him fiercely with clubs and stones, and they turned him about on a wheel and burned at him with a low fire. The Lord preserved His sufferer and healed his lacerated body. Then Dometian dispatched the saint to Rome to the emperor Diocletian himself, with a report that Bishop Clement had been fiercely tortured, but had proven unyielding. Diocletian, seeing the martyr completely healthy, did not believe the report and subjected him to still yet crueler tortures, and then had him locked up in prison.

Many of the pagans, seeing the bravery of the saint and the miraculous healing of his wounds, believed in Christ. People flocked to Saint Clement in prison for guidance, healing, and Baptism, such that the prison was literally transformed into a church. Many of these people, when reported about, were executed by the emperor. Diocletian, struck by the amazing endurance of Saint Clement, sent him off to Nicomedia to his co-emperor Maximian.

On the ship along the way, the saint was joined by his disciple Agathangelus, who had avoided being executed with the other confessors, and who now wanted to suffer and die for Christ together with Bishop Clement.

The emperor Maximian in turn sent off Saint Clement and Agathangelus to the governor Agrippina, who subjected them to such inhuman torments that even among the pagan on-lookers there was felt a sense of pity for the martyrs and they began to pelt the torturers with stones.

Having been set free, the saints healed an inhabitant of the city with a laying on of hands and they baptised and instructed people, thronging to them in multitudes. Arrested again on orders of Maximian, they were sent off home to the city of Ancyra, where the Ancyra prince Cyrenius had them put to torture, and then dispatched them off to the city of Amasia to the official Dometius, known for his especial cruelty.

In Amasia the martyrs were thrown into molten lime. They spent a whole day in it and remained unharmed. They flayed their skin, beat them with iron rods, they set them on red-hot beds and poured sulfur. All this failed to harm the saints, and they were sent off to Tarsis for new tortures. In the wilderness along the way Saint Clement in prayer had a revelation, that he would suffer another 28 years for the Name of Christ. And then having endured a multitude of tortures, the saints were locked up in prison.

After the death of Maximian, Saint Agathangelus was beheaded with the sword. Ancyra Christians set Saint Clement free from prison and they took him to a cave church. There, after celebrating Liturgy, the saint announced to the faithful the soon impending end of the persecution and his own approaching demise. The holy martyr soon actually was killed by soldiers from the city, who stormed the church. They beheaded the saint during the time of his offering the Bloodless Sacrifice (+ c. 312).

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