Science of the Saints, 11 April, The Holy Martyr Antipas, Bishop of Pergamum in Asia

The Hieromartyr Antipas, a disciple of the holy Apostle John the Theologian, was bishop of the Church of Pergamum during the reign of the emperor Nero (54-68).

During these times by order of the emperor, everyone who would not offer sacrifice to the idols lived under threat of either exile or execution. And then too on the island of Patmos (in the Aegean Sea) was imprisoned the holy Apostle John the Theologian – he to whom the Lord revealed the future judgements of the world and of Holy Church.

“And to the Angel of the Pergamum Church write: thus sayeth He having the sword sharp of both edges: I do know thine deeds, and that thou dost live there, where doth be the throne of Satan, and that thou dost cleave unto My Name nor didst renounce My faith even in those days, in which My slain faithful witness Antipas was amongst ye, where Satan dwelleth.” (Rev. 2:12-13)

By his personal example, firm faith and constant preaching about Christ, Saint Antipas began to sway the people of Pergamum from offering sacrifice to idols. The pagan priests reproached the bishop for turning the people away from their ancestral gods, and they demanded that he stop preaching about Christ and instead offer sacrifice to the idols.

Saint Antipas calmly answered that he was not about to serve the demon-gods, which flee before him who was but a mortal man; rather, it is the Lord Almighty that he worships and would continue to worship – the Creator of all, together with His Only‑Begotten and One-in-Essence Son and Holy Spirit. The pagan priests retorted that their gods existed from of old, whereas Christ was not from of old and was crucified under Pontius Pilate as a criminal. The saint answered that the pagan gods were the work of human hands and that everything said about them was filled with iniquities and vices. He steadfastly confessed his faith in the Son of God, incarnated of the Most Holy Virgin.

The enraged pagan priests dragged the Hieromartyr Antipas to the temple of Artemis and threw him into a red hot copper bullock, wherein usually they cast the sacrifices to the idols. In the red hot furnace the hieromartyr prayed loudly to God, imploring to accept his soul and to fortify Christians in the faith. He expired to the Lord peacefully, as though asleep (+ c.68).

Christians by night took the body of the Hieromartyr Antipas, untouched by the fire, and with reverence they buried him at Pergamum. The tomb of the hieromartyr became a font of miracles and of healings from manifold sicknesses. Particular recourse to the Hieromartyr Antipas is made during times of toothache.

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