Sunday, January 9, 2000

Warrior Series: St. Nearchus

Holy Martyrs Nearchus and Polyeuctus (259 A.D.)

The January 9 prologue entry has the story of the Holy Martyrs Nearchus and Polyeuctus who were both Roman soldiers in Armenia.  They stood up for what was right and paid for it with their lives:

The Armenian city of Melitene was drenched with the blood of Christians as was the entire country of Armenia. The first blood shed for Christ in this city was that of Saint Polyeuctus in the year 259 A.D. during the reign of Valerian.

In this city [Melitene] were two friends: both Nearchus and Polyeuctus were officers, Nearchus baptized and Polyeuctus unbaptized. When the command of the emperor was sent out concerning the persecution of the Christians, Nearchus prepared for death; but he was in great sorrow because he had not succeeded in converting his friend Polyeuctus to the True Faith.

When Polyeuctus learned of the reason for Nearchus' sorrow, he promised to embrace the Faith. The following day Polyeuctus related his dream to Nearchus: the Lord Himself appeared to him in light, removed Polyeuctus' old clothes from him and dressed him in radiant new clothes and sat him in the saddle of a winged horse.

After this, Polyeuctus went to town, shredded the emperor's decree concerning the torturing of Christians, and destroyed many statues of the idols. He was tortured and was condemned to death. When he was brought to the place of execution, he looked at Nearchus in the throng of people and joyfully cried out to him: "Save yourself my dear friend! Remember the vow of love confirmed between the two of us!" Later, Saint Nearchus died as a martyr for Christ by fire. The commemoration of the feast of St. Nearchus is April 22.

Nearchus and Polyeuctus, soldiers of Caesar,
Became soldiers of the Heavenly King,
One baptized with water, the other by his blood,
The second surpassed the other and became the first.
Oh, blessed be this competition,
This heroic rushing to Christ's' kingdom!
Polyeuctus rejected all by which the earth spoils
Everything, as a wind that comes; as the wind, passes,
And for these urgent sufferings, purchased the everlasting kingdom;
This trade, for him, turned out radiant:
For eternal life, let the grass be mowed!
For transitory suffering, eternal glory!
Pray for us, O soldier of Christ,
That, not one of your souls perish!

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