The Lives of the Saints/May/31
Sufferings of saint martyr Hermias
During the persecution of Christians in the reign of the impious roman emperor Antoninus , a Proconsul named Sebastian was appointed by the emperor to torture the Christians. Having arrived in Cappadocia from Cilicia , he met a soldier named Hermias in Comana , an aged gray-haired man and a Christian who, believing in the one true God had spent a life of virtue. The proconsul told Hermias:
— I have been sent a decree from the roman emperor Antoninus, ordering all Christians to make a sacrifice to the roman gods; if the Christians refuse to give a tribute, they will be subjected to fierce torments. Therefore you too Hermias make a sacrifice to the gods: you will then be the friend of the emperor and will be awarded great honours. Obey me, otherwise I will subject both your soul and your body to torture.
Christ's devotee Hermias replied:
— I am the soldier of the heavenly and immortal Christ Emperor, whose kingdom shall have no end , I will therefore not execute an order from the mortal and impious emperor, who reigns for a short time, while the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ will remain unchanged for ages; everyone believing in Him, inherits eternal life. And I believe in Him. Before, I served Him secretly, but now I serve Him openly; the devil will not win over me; you only have power over my body, and only because it is in God’s will; over my soul nobody has any power, except God, Who will grant me patience and will keep me safe for ages.
After Sebastian had listened to saint Hermias’s address he said:
— Make a sacrifice to the gods if you wish to enjoy the pleasures of this life.
But the saint replied:
— What can be for me the pleasures, what enjoyment and what life if, having withdrawn from my Creator, I will bow to demons? In truth, it is not pleasure but sorrow; it is not enjoyment but grief; it is not life but eternal death.
The proconsul said:
— I see that you are very wise.
The saint replied:
— I am wise about the Lord, my God in Whom I believe and Whom I serve with great zeal; for Him I am ready to suffer and agree to die with pleasure.
— In respect of your grey hairs and your wisdom, — the consul said, — I am ready to spare you and pardon you. The saint replied:
— I do not seek any favour from you, but I seek favours from God, Who render wise his servants by His Saint Spirit.
To this the consul replied:
— So, you prefer death to life?
— This death, — answered the saint, — is not death, but a life eternal if I bear with patience the torments sent by you. Then the consul ordered to break the saint’s face with stones, to beat his lips and to remove the skin of his face. The saint then said:
— I thank my God, for His providence resides with me.
The consul asked the soldier:
— Why you don’t you take your allowance as all the other soldiers?
— As you unfairly take from the poor, — the martyr answered, — for this reason I do not take your allowance, and I do need it to feed myself, for I have the spiritual food given to me by the Saint Spirit with which I am never hungry.
Then the consul ordered to light a furnace and to throw the Christ's martyr in it. After three days having opened the furnace, they found the saint alive and well, glorifying God for fire had not touched his body.
After that the consul, having called a mage, ordered him to give a poison to Hermias.
The saint, having prayed to God, drunk the poisoned drink and did not suffer at all, according to the word of Christ the Lord who said: « if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them » (Mark 16:18).
The mage prepared an even more dangerous poison and gave it to the martyr, saying:
— If you do not suffer at all from this poison I will abandon magic and believe in the crucified God you serve.
Saint Hermias, having tasted this poison and having drunk it to the bottom, did not suffer at all, but remained healthy and unharmed. The magician then cried out:
— You have won me, Hermias! You have overcome and defeated me, servant of Christ! You have rescued my lost soul from hell and have persuaded me to serve God. Just as the old iron sculpture, being reforged, is renewed; so I am renewed in my soul and I, who have grown old in sins and unhappiness, I am renewed, turning toward the living God who is eternal. O heavenly God, the only true, You freed me from evil seduction and from the immoral service of idols by means of Your servant Hermias! Accept me a sinner calling out to You, and pardon me who is confessing You!
After that, the consul was filled with fury and ordered to decapitate the mage. So the mage was beheaded and was thus baptised in his own blood; and so the new Christian martyr departed to the Christ God for Whom he had given his life.
The consul ordered to torture saint Hermias without mercy, pulling out veins from all his body. Being so severely tortured, the saint said:
— I do not feel any pain from the torture for, just as a knife, cutting a vein, lets out bad blood and gives strength to the body, I, bearing to have my veins torn away from my body, become stronger and stronger in my faith to Christ.
Then the torturer ordered to throw the saint in a cauldron filled with boiling oil. But the cauldron cooled down immediately, and boiling oil transformed in cool dew. The Christ's martyr loudly exclaimed:
— I do not feel pain and I will not follow your order, torturer! I will only follow the will of the heavenly Father to Whom I give myself in an innocent sacrifice for He is the Lord of our souls and bodies.
As the saint spoke, the torturer ordered to pour into his throat bitter vinegar mixed with bile. The martyr said:
— This bitterness feels to me like comb honey thanks to my God for Whose name I bear all this.
Then the torturer ordered to dig out the eyes of saint Hermias. Having heard about it, the saint told to the torturer:
— If you need my body’s eyes, which see the vanity of this world, — then take them; I have heart’s eyes with which I clearly behold the true light. And the saint’s eyes were dug out.
Then the saint was suspended head down and left in such position for three days so a lot of blood left through his nostrils. After three days had lapsed, they came to look on the saint, thinking that he had already died, but they were astounded to find him alive and glorifying God. But because of their lack of faith, their eyes became covered by darkness; they had gone blind and started to plea:
— Pardon us, servant of the true God for we are struck by blindness!
The saint told them:
— Approach me!
When they approached him, having laid his hands on them, he said:
— In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ recover your sight.
And immediately they all started to see clearly and, coming back, told everyone about this event.
The consul, becoming even more furious, ordered to skin the whole body of the martyr. When servants executed the order of the torturer, the saint accused the consul and disproved of his abject gods, which caused the consul to rage still more. Roaring as a lion, he cut off with a knife the just head of the saint martyr.
So Christ’s martyr Hermias ended his ascetic feat.
Christians coming secretly to this place, took the just body buried it in Cappadocia in a place called as Comana. There, the pure relics of the martyr performed many miracles and numerous healings occurred for the glory of the Christ our God, Who together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, to Whom is conveyed glory, honour and worship, now and in infinite ages. Amen.
Kondakion, 6th tone:
Having sincerely practiced asceticism for Christ,
You gained courage at an advanced age, O Martyr Hermias,
Having trampled down the plots of the lawless by the power of Christ,
You remained unharmed from the drink of his sorcery, crying out:
God is with me and none are against me.