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Simple & Fine – Father Theologos and Mihai Morar – Part 114 May 2022
Watch Father Pimen Vlad as he tells us the life of Saint Artemius, commenting on it and offering us some spiritual advice on this occasion.
Christ is Risen my dear ones!
We are seeing each other again, to continue… with the life of St. Artemius. I have spoken for so long about the Cell of St. Artemius, and it is time for me to tell you a few things about St. Artemius. Who was St. Artemius? Where did he live? How did he suffer? And I will try to tell you, in a few words, I grabbed a book to glance at it a little bit. The sun is very strong here, and I tried to sit with my back towards it but it is still very strong. Look, I have a small icon of St. Artemius here, so that you can see. The Holy Martyr Artemius. Actually, Holy Great Martyr Artemius. So in a few words…
St. Artemius was the duke of Egypt. Meaning the voivode of Egypt, especially of Alexandria. So he was the leader of the city of Alexandria. But before getting there, he was born in Egypt but he was a soldier during the time of Emperor Constantine the Great, a brave and faithful soldier. And actually, when St. Constantine the Great had to go to war against Maxentius, and prayed to God, “Lord give me a sign, how can I defeat him, because he has twice as many men as I?” And then he saw the Holy Cross in the form of stars in the sky, and it was written, with letters made of stars, “In this sign you shall conquer.” “In this sign you shall conquer.” And then St. Constantine the Great commanded that the Holy Cross be put on swords, on the bridle of the horses, on everything, on their weapons, on their bodies…that is on their clothes, to mark themselves with the sign of the Holy Cross. Because they realized the significance of the Holy Cross, if it appeared in the sky. And St. Artemius was close to the emperor, he saw the sign of the cross and was strengthened in faith and so on.
After going through many wars, in the meantime, St. Constantine the Great died, because the times were such, in the olden days, that there were many intrigues in the Roman Empire; they would murder each other, he was killed by those who would be his stepbrothers. Something like that…he was poisoned. And others took over the empire, and in the meantime, at first, the sons of St. Constantine the Great [were in charge]. St. Artemius was a soldier of Constantius, the son of St. Constantine the Great. And because he was part of the older soldiers and trusting him, when Constantius found out that somewhere in Achaia, buried there, are the relics of Holy Apostle Andrew and the relics of Holy Apostle Luke, the emperor called Artemius, as he was then, trusting him, and told him:
“Look Artemius, go, take enough people with you, and bring me the relics of these two saints.”
And St. Artemius went, he searched for them, he dug them up with honor, and brought them to the emperor, to Constantinople. And the emperor, knowing and trusting him, made him duke, meaning voivode of Egypt, of the city of Alexandria. He entrusted everything to him there.
St. Artemius went to Alexandria, and through his life, he Christianized many more than were Christian there. Because there were many Christians, but he helped too, and almost the whole city became Christian.
Meanwhile, as the kingdom kept changing, with the battles for the throne that happened at that time, others came and were killed one by one – and then a sort of nephew of the emperor Constantine the Great, got on the throne: Julian the Apostate. But how did he get on the throne? Because he wasn’t the successor, there had been others, at one point Gallus was emperor, then there was another – Constans, who were Christian, all.
Julian the Apostate, at first also showed himself to be a Christian, so that he could reach the throne. Then, after reaching the throne, he showed his true colors, as it is said, after he saw himself in power. He began to sacrifice to idols! But even before that, he used to go to sorcerers and pay them money to help him reach the throne. So he would call on the help of the devils! Because many times, many – in order to get into a position or something, they turn to sorcerers and things of the devil. And then they are subject to the devil. Because if they gave them the right, since they make a promise when they submit to the devil, after that they must serve the devil. Then they reach their positions and after that they do what they do! Julian the Apostate did the same.
He got on the throne. He showed his true colors. And he began to persecute Christians. He would murder them, kill them; because of this, we read in the life of Saint Basil the Great, that Julian the Apostate came and began to threaten him. And Saint Basil knew him – he knew him from Athens since he studied there – Saint Basil, Saint Gregory, Saint John Chrysostom, they knew each other from there and [St. Basil] knew he was an immoral man. Julian didn’t have any law, he studied with them, but he was the type of man… he was only interested in status, the debauched life and all that.
[St. Basil] rebuked the emperor:
“Are you not ashamed, how can you behave like this and kill Christians?”
And then the emperor threatened him:
“I will kill you! I will take away your wealth!”
“My wealth? I only have the clothes on my back.”
“I will kill you!”
“Then you will send me to Christ sooner!”
And then the emperor went to war, and said:
“When I get back, I will destroy all the churches, and I will kill you.”
He said this to St. Basil. And he left. St. Basil said:
“IF you will return!”
And he went away, to wars and so on.
Returning to St. Artemius. St. Artemius, being duke of Egypt, and Julian the Apostate going to war in Antioch, against the Persians, he announced to all the voivodes of the cities, from somewhere in Antioch, and of course this included Artemius from the city of Alexandria, to bring their soldiers and come, as he needed help against the Persians, who were many. St. Artemius came. And what was Julian the Apostate doing in Antioch? He had found two Christians, Eugene and Mardarius, and he was torturing them. He made them walk after him wearing iron shoes with nails on the soles, and all kinds of other tortures. He was torturing them there in front of everyone. When St. Artemius arrived and witnessed this, he stood up and said:
“Emperor, how do you dare to rise up against Christ? How do you dare to torture the servants of Christ? God has allowed you to become emperor, to try us, to try his faithful soldiers, but the punishment of God will be upon you soon for what you are doing.”
And the emperor got angry and asked:
“Who is this?”
“He is Artemius, duke of Egypt.”
“Take away his nobility, take everything away, his sash, his clothes… and bring him here!”
They laid him down, and in the past what would they use for punishment? They would use ox sinews. They would take out the dry sinews from an ox and they would use them to beat a person. It was the greatest pain. It would be like using iron rods now, almost like that. And they beat him using those, on his back, on his belly, until his skin was completely cut up, until they almost left him unconscious.
But St. Artemius did not let out a single moan. He was quiet and bore it all with patience. Then they put him in prison. The next day they took him out again. And the emperor began accusing him of this and that; St. Artemius testified back until the emperor did not know what else to say. So then the emperor, very inflamed, again tortured him, using some sort of spears reddened in the fire, to spear him and beat him with those. He was destroyed, there was nothing whole left of him. And then he was placed in prison again.
The emperor went somewhere else, to Daphne, there was a place, where there was a large temple of Apollo, and the goddess Aphrodite. And he went there to bring sacrifices, so that the gods would tell him whether he would defeat the Persians.
And he went and brought sacrifices… usually the devils would answer through their idolatrous priests, whether he would win or loose… Now there was nothing. The devils said nothing. And then he asked the idolatrous priests:
“Why aren’t they answering?”
And they said: “Since the relics of St. Babylas came to this city, all of our gods have been silent.”
Meaning the devils had no more power. A saint had arrived, a martyr – his relics – and the devils had left the city. The emperor was enraged and commanded:
“Remove these relics from here, because our gods are not answering us.”
And Christians took them away from that place then. And the emperor, after giving sacrifices and left, fire came from above and burned the idolatrous temple. And then emperor, enraged, returned. He ordered that St. Artemius be brought out of prison. But in the meantime, what had happened in the cell?
In the state that he was in from tortures, Christ came down and said, “Rejoice fighter Artemius! Take courage for I am with you. Do not fear, since you have confessed Me before the people, so shall I confess you before My Father. You shall be with Me in My Kingdom.”
Did you hear that? If we confess before people, or the emperor as it was, that Christ is the true God, and we do not renounce our faith, Christ will also confess for us before God the Father:
“Yes, look, he sacrificed himself for Us, he confessed, he was not ashamed of the Christian faith.”
And we are received in the Heavenly Kingdom.
Yes, dear ones. Let us never be ashamed. No matter what, no matter what happens. Nobody can defeat us, ever, if we have Christ with us. Who is bigger than God? And we have the Mother of God… And when Christ appeared, He healed Artemius and ascended to heaven.
And when the emperor returned, he saw Artemius luminous, bright, and with no wound on him. He could not believe it, he was looking at him knowing that he had been butchered. The emperor said:
“I see that our gods have taken pity on you!”
Artemius started laughing and said:
“No, not you gods, but my Christ who I serve.”
And the emperor said:
“Well I have seen that your Christians have burned down the temple.”
“No, not my Christians, God sent fire from heaven, and the temple burned, so that you may become wise and see that He is above all.”
“Are you laughing at me too, Artemius? I’ll show you…”
The emperor was fuming, he could see that he could not defeat St. Artemius, that his devils had stopped talking, that the temple had burned as fire from heaven descended. He was so enraged that he could not accept that he was defeated.
And of course, they brought out St. Artemius and he ordered that a big boulder be brought and cut in half, to lift up the top part, place St. Artemius on the bottom and then drop the top part on St. Artemius.
So imagine, a ton of rock on the bottom, and a ton on top, being placed on him. And he was completely crushed. He was like a plank of wood, his bones, everything. And think about it, the saint was talking and rebuking the emperor, the emperor could not believe it. Then the emperor rose and left. He was sure that now he would not make it out alive and left him there until the morning. The next day when the emperor came, he said:
“Lift up the rock!”
And when they lifted the rock, and think about it, St. Artemius was like a plank of wood, completely crushed, there was nothing left of him on the inside, his bones were crushed, he got up on his feet, as he was, and everyone was afraid when they saw him, and he began to rebuke the emperor. He could speak clearly. And he said:
“Emperor, your end is near! And you will receive payment for everything you have done, for all your persecution of Christians.”
“No, because I will go and have victory over the Persians!”
“No, that is where you will find your death.” He told him.
The emperor, seething with anger, and not knowing what else to do, said:
“Cut off his head!”
He saw that he would not die so he cut off his head. St. Artemius went to Christ in this way. A Christian lady who had influence and money, intervened through acquaintances and she paid money and managed to take the relics of St. Artemius and put them in a place of honor.
The emperor of course… went to Persia. And then an old Persian, he was a wise man of the Persians, came before the emperor, and said,:
“Emperor, why suffer so much? I will help you to conquer Persia easily. I will take you on the shortest route without losing soldiers or anything.”
The emperor, pleased, trusted him. That Persian took him and his whole army, with him as a guide, through all the desolate places, where there was no water, nothing. There were all sorts of damaging winds, and he guided the army of emperor Julian through all those areas, until half of his army died. And then the Persian started laughing and said:
“I brought you this way on purpose. I prefer to die and have my nation free, and not be stepped on by you. I have brought you to this wasteland which nobody can escape from.”
When the emperor and the soldiers heard that he had made fools out of them, and him saying:
“I prefer death 10 times over than to have my country stepped on by enemies, than to see our women and children taken as slaves and raped…” and so on.
You can imagine when the emperor heard… He had lost soldiers, they were all faint… He cut him up into pieces. [The Persian] sacrificed himself for his country. You see? They were pagans, but see how they loved their country. They would not sell it. They were willing to die to protect the country. And of course, being in that situation, and then clashing with the soldiers of that place, they were chased, they were starved, there was a few of them, and the emperor, what did he die of? The prophecy of St. Artemius was fulfilled. And St. Basil the Great, after the emperor left, started praying.
In prayer, he said, “Lord, do not allow the emperor to come back alive, that he may not do what he said, which is to destroy Your Church!” Then he saw St. Mercurius, how he disappeared from the wall, from the icon, he had his spear, and after some time he returned to the icon, with a bloody spear. And then [St. Basil] realized that Julian died then. So what happened? Being in the battles there, Julian the Apostate, he was eventually defeated, and he ran away and hid. But eventually the soldiers pursued him and wounded him with a spear. But whose spear was it? It was the spear of St. Artemius, but he did not realize that, he thought those soldiers wounded him.
And in those torments at the end, when he saw his blood flowing, because he was stabbed and was completely wounded, he took blood in his hand, and with hatred – not even then did he repent – he threw it up and said:
“You have conquered Galilean!”
Meaning, he said it to Christ, He was called Christ the Galilean, “You conquered!” That is, even then he was capable of fighting with Christ. And he had a death…like he deserved as it is said. After all the evil he did, God allowed it in this way.
Yes… And St. Artemius, if we look at both, St. Artemius went to Christ to reign, and the other one, Julian the Apostate, the persecutor and so on, went to torments. Think about it…the consequences of each life. It is the same now. We have different situations in this world, each one goes on according to his works, let that be clear. We see leaders with different interests, and now, even in our country, they are ready for war. Leaders want to bring the country into war. Why? Because of interests. Is that what we need?
Do not be afraid my dear ones, pray to St. Artemius, because he loved his faith, he loved his country and everything, that is, he remained next to Christ, he did not take anything into account for Christ, for the faith, and St. Artemius can help us.
And there is another thing, St. Artemius is a helper, a healer of everything that has to do with this interior part, diseases of the intestines, of the kidneys, because he too was completely destroyed and received the grace from God to heal the prostrate, intestines… everything that has to do with the interior of the person, he helps a lot.
And here in Greece, he is the protector of the police. You should know, that the police in Greece have Holy Great Martyr Artemius as protector because he was “Grand Duke” (mega dux). Meaning the minister of interior of St. Constantine the Great. So he is a great saint, and honored here in Greece, and he helps a lot, you should know.
That is what I wanted to tell you about St. Artemius. Actually at Konstamonitou Monastery, which was built by the son of emperor Constantine the Great, there is a place where they have a pew, where they have the icon of St. Artemius, where, it is said, St. Artemius came to Athos personally, to bring a part of the relics of St. Luke, the Apostle and Evangelist, when he had been sent at that time by the emperor to bring the relics to Constantinople. So he brought a part [of the relics] to Athos, and that place in the monastery is honored as being the place where St. Artemius stayed when he came to bring the holy relics, as he was honored at the time, having the office he had. So St. Artemius has been to the Holy Mountain.
Yes, so pray to him, because he has a lot of power before God. And as I said, he is also the protector of the police, for those who are in the police, pray to him as he helps, especially in these times with all the craziness of the world.
And one more thing before I end… Let’s not want war, let’s not get into the war. It is not our war. Everything we see are interests. It has nothing to do with us.
We, Romania, have to stay home in peace. Prayer, hope in God and let’s not get into anything. Because there will be chaos if we enter this war. I have said this many times, and I will say it again. Let’s stay peacefully in our country and not get involved in any way.
Leaders should understand this, because they are very much pushing to get noticed now. There will be chaos if they enter in this whole dirty game. Let’s pray, as I said, to St. Artemius, to the Mother of God, to help us, and to bring peace to the world, because woe betide if peace is taken from the earth.
Yes, my dear ones. But we should have hope in God, in the Mother of God, and in the saints, because they will not leave us. Lord help us! May the Mother of God and Holy Great Martyr Artemius help us!
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