Science of the Saints, 22 May, The Holy Martyr Basiliscus

The Holy Martyr Basiliscus was a nephew of the holy Martyr Theodore of Tyre, and he suffered together with his brothers Eutropius and Cleonicus during the time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). The holy Martyrs Cleonicus and Eutropius were crucified on crosses, but the Martyr Basiliscus was dispatched to Comana where he was detained in prison. The governor Agrippa, having arrived in the city of Amasia, started up there also the persecution against Christians. And Saint Basiliscus in prison readied himself for the impending martyr’s deed. The Lord appeared to him in a dream, promising the martyr His help, and foretold him his martyr’s end at Comana. Saint Basiliscus asked the prison guards to release him to his native village to take farewell of his kinsfolk. They sent him off, since they respected him for his holy life and working of miracles. Arriving home, Saint Basiliscus gathered together with his kinsfolk, and was seen by them one last time, and he urged them to stand firmly in the faith.

When Agrippa learned that Saint Basiliscus had set off to his kinsfolk, he went into a rage. He viciously chastised the prison guards, and he sent a detachment of soldiers after the martyr, headed by a cruel magistrianum (adjutant of the governor). Meeting up with Saint Basiliscus who at this time was actually heading on his way back, the magistrianum slapped heavy chains on him, and shod on his feet metal sandals with nails driven into the soles, and set off to Comana.

Having come to a certain village, over the hot noon-day the travellers stayed at the house of a woman named Troana. The soldiers went into the house to relax and refresh with food, and the holy Martyr Basiliscus they tied to a dry tree. Standing in the heavy chains beneath the scorching sun, the saint prayed to God. Suddenly was heard the Voice from above: “Fear not, for I am with thee.” The earth shook, and from the fissure issued forth a spring of water. The magistrianum, together with the soldiers and Troana, frightened by the earthquake, rushed out of the house. And shaken by the miracle which had taken place, they set free the martyr. Sick people from the village came up to the holy martyr and received healing through his prayer.

When the martyr finally stood before Agrippa, he was commanded to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. The martyr replied: “I offer up to God a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving every hour.” They led him into a pagan temple, where in a instant upon Saint Basiliscus there came down from Heaven a flash of fire, which burned the temple, and reduced the idols standing in it to dust. Then in a blind rage Agrippa gave orders to behead Saint Basiliscus, and throw his body into the river. The death of the martyr occurred in the year 308. Christians quickly gathered the remains of the holy martyr and by night they secretly buried them in a ploughed-up field. After a certain while upon this spot was built a church in the name of the holy Martyr Basiliscus, into which they transferred his relics. Through the prayers of the holy martyr healings began to occur. The holy martyr appeared in a dream to Saint John Chrysostom before his death at Comana and said to him: “Tomorrow we shall be together.” Saint Eusignius was an eye-witness to his sufferings and told the world about the exploit of the holy Martyr Basiliscus.

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