The Martyrdom of St. Procopius (Proconius) of Jerusalem
On this day, of the year 303 A.D. (July 8th), St. Procopius (Proconius), was martyred. He was born in the city of Jerusalem, his father was a Christian whose name was Christophorus, which means "Bearer of Christ." His mother's name was Theodosia, and she was a worshipper of idols. When his father died, Theodosia took her son, and went to Antioch. She presented much money and expensive gifts to the Emperor Diocletian, and asked him to make her son a governor for one of the cities. He accepted her gift, answered her request, and appointed her son the governor of the city of Alexandria. He commanded that Procopius torture the Christians.
When the Saint had gone a little way from the City of Antioch, he heard a voice from heaven calling him by his name, and censured his deed. The voice also threatened him by death because he dared and accepted to do what was against the command of God. Procopius asked, "Who are you, O my Lord? I beseech you to show me yourself." A cross of light appeared to him, and he heard a voice which said to him, "I am Jesus , the Son of the Living God, Who was crucified in Jerusalem." He was afraid and trembled, and he turned to the city of Bit-Shaan (Bisan). He made for himself a cross of gold like the cross that appeared to him.
On his way to Alexandria, some of the bedouins attacked him to plunder whatever he had. But he overcame them by the cross that he had. His mother told him, "You must offer sacrifices to the gods who delivered you from your enemies." The Saint replied, "Rather, I will offer the sacrifice to Jesus Christ, Who helped me by the power of His cross." When his mother heard his words, she became angry, and sent to Diocletian to inform him about that. The Emperor sent to the Governor of Caesarea, Palestine, to investigate the matter, and to handle his torture. When the Governor brought him, Procopius confessed his faith in the Lord Christ. The governor beat him so severely that he was close to death, then he cast him in prison. The Lord Christ appeared to him, surrounded by His angels, released him from his bonds, and healed his wounds. The next morning, the Governor asked about the Saint, and they told him that they found him free and sound. He had him brought to the temple of the idols, where the Governor was going to pray. When the Saint came, and the people saw him whole, they all marvelled, and they all cried out in the name of Christ saying, "We are Christians, and we believe in the God of Procopius." Among them were two prefects, twelve women, and St. Theodosia, mother of St. Proconius. They cut off their heads, and they received the crown of martyrdom. That was on the sixth day of the month of Abib.
The Governor ordered the return of the Saint to prison, until he could determine what to do with him. He brought him back three days later and told him, "Behold, I have waited three days for you to return to your mind, to have mercy on yourself, and to offer sacrifice for the gods." The Saint replied, "The Lord Christ is the only true God. As for these statues, which are made of stone and wood, they are not gods and can neither harm nor help." The Governor became angry and ordered the soldiers to cut his sides with swords. A swordsman, whose name was Archelaus, stretched out his hand to cut the sides of the Saint, whereupon his hand dried up, and fell down dead. The Governor ordered to stab him with knives and pour vinegar in his wounds. Then they dragged him by his feet to the prison, where he stayed for three days. The Governor was wondering what he should do with him. Then he threw him into a pit filled with fire, but the Lord delivered him and no harm came upon him. Finally, the Governor ordered to cut off his head and he received the crown of martyrdom.
May his prayers be with us. Amen.
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