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"Holy Martyr Procopius"

The Life & Martyrdom of St Great Martyr Prokopios. By LAMBROS K. SKONZOU Theologian - Professor.

The era of persecutions of the early Christian years is the most heroic period of our Church, which raised a great cloud of beautiful Martyrs. They rejected idolatry, stood up to their powerful persecutors and confessed their faith in Christ, shedding their holy blood and giving their lives for Him.

One of them was the great martyr Procopius. He came from Palestine and lived during the years of the cruel emperor Diocletian (285-305). His father's name was Christopher and he was a devout Christian, unlike his mother Theodosia, who was a fanatical pagan. His original name was Neanias. He unfortunately lost his father at an early age and thus his upbringing was taken over by his mother, raising him as a pagan.

He seems to have had access to the palace and thus delivered Neanias as a courtier to Diocletian, offering a respectable sum as well. He appreciated his abilities and proclaimed him Duke of Alexandria, even giving him an express order to go and exterminate the numerous Christians there.

We note that this religious emperor was convinced by the pagan priesthoods of Asia Minor that the "gods" required him to exterminate the Christians and extinguish the Christian faith, in order to make them once again favorable to the state and himself. That is why he had preached the most cruel and inhumane persecution against the Church, which produced millions of Martyrs.

After assuming power in Alexandria, he was ordered to go to the city of Apamea (modern Haman) in Syria, together with two of his officers. But because it was very hot they traveled at night.

About 30 kilometers outside the city something unexpected happened: there was a big earthquake and the sky was lit up by blinding lightning. At the same time, an unearthly voice was heard, which warned him that if he carried out the emperor's orders and killed Christians, he would be killed too! Neanias was bewildered by the strange phenomenon and asked who was talking to him and to appear in front of him. Then a crystal Cross appeared before him and a voice was heard: "I am the Crucified Jesus, the Son of God"!

The good-intentioned Duke understood that it was a miracle sent by God and therefore he ran to Apamea and made sure to find Christians, to be indoctrinated. After he was converted, he received Holy Baptism and received the name Procopius.

When he arrived at Scythopolis in Hollow Syria he made a golden Cross, according to the one that appeared to him, which he now made his emblem, together with two images of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. After days he was summoned to face the Saracens, whom he defeated, carrying with him the golden Cross, as his victorious banner.

When he returned victorious to Alexandria, he was received with joy by his mother, who had been informed of his proud victory. He urged him to sacrifice to the "gods," thanking them for their favor to him.

Then Procopius told his mother that the victory was given to him by Christ the true God and not by false idols. His fanatical pagan mother was embittered by her son's words, darkened her mind, and revealed in a letter to Diocletian her son's conversion, to the hater of those Christian faith. The fanatical emperor became furious with his anger and ordered the ruler of Caesarea Ulcius to examine Procopius.

He was led captive before him and heroically confessed his faith in Christ. When asked to sacrifice to idols, he refused and professed faith in false pagan "gods." The ruler was horrified by the attitude of Procopius and ordered him to be mercilessly beaten and locked up, half dead as he was, in the darkest prison.

There Christ appeared to him at night and showed him the crown of his martyrdom, which he would win if he remained steadfast in his confession of faith. If he could endure the torture and exchanged the temporal life for the eternal. Procopius was overjoyed and took courage.

The next day he was taken to a nearby pagan temple, where he was induced to sacrifice to idols. Procopius refused to sacrifice and prayed. Then the unexpected happened: the figurines began to melt like wax! The soldiers present and their officers Nicostratos and Antinoos, seeing the miracle, were converted to Christ, baptized by Bishop Leontius and later martyred by beheading.

His mother, who was present, also believed, and with her twelve Synagogues, who were crushed, horribly tortured, and beheaded.

Procopius was taken over by the ferocious and merciless Flavianus, to bend his mind. But even in this the Martyr remained unconvinced and steadfast in his faith.

Flavianus then ordered the servant Archelaus to plunge his sword into Procopius' belly.When he woke up, he fell to the floor dead! Then they tied him up and beat him with a vuneura. They were burning him with hot coals.

They forced him to hold burning coals in his hands until he sacrificed to the idols. He preferred to burn his hands! Then they hung him upside down and prepared a red-hot oven to throw him into, but Procopius crucified him and the oven immediately went out and froze!

After seeing that they did not bring any result, they decided to behead him. He bowed his honest head to the executioner, who cut it off, giving him the precious and everlasting crown of heavenly glory, which Christ had shown him in prison!

His memory is celebrated on July 8.

Translated from Source:

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