December 6, 2017 - Hatour 27, 1734
Martyrdom of St. James the Mangled (Sawn)
On this day, St. James the mangled, was martyred. He was one of the soldiers of Sakrod, the son of Shapur, King of Persia. Because of his courage and his uprightness, he was promoted to the highest rank in the king's court. He found favor and access to the king, who even counselled with him in many affairs. In this way, he influenced St. James greatly to the extent that he turned his heart away from worshipping the Lord Christ. When his mother, his wife, and his sister heard that he adopted the king's belief, they wrote to him saying, Why have you forsaken the faith in the Lord Christ and worshipped the created objects, the fire and the sun? Know that if you persist in what you are doing, we will disown you and you will become a stranger to us. When he read their letter, he wept and said, If by doing that, I have become a stranger to my own family and my people, how would the situation be with my Lord Jesus Christ? Consequently, he resigned from the king's service and devoted his time to reading the holy books. When the news reached the king, he summoned St. James. When the King saw the change that had befallen him, he ordered that James be beaten severely and if he did not change his belief, he was to be cut up with knives. They cut off his fingers, his hands, his legs and his arms. Each time they cut off a piece of his body, he praised the Lord and sang saying, Have mercy upon me 0 Lord according to Your great compassion. (Psalm 50:1) Eventually, nothing was left of him except his head, his breast and his loins. When he knew that his time was near, he entreated the Lord to have mercy and compassion upon the world and the people therein. He apologized for not standing in the presence of the mighty Lord and said, I have neither legs to stand before Thee, nor hands to lift up to Thee, behold the parts of my body have been cast around me, 0 Lord receive my soul. Straightaway, the Lord Christ appeared to him, comforted, and strengthened him and his soul rejoiced. Before he delivered up his soul, one of the guards made haste and cut off his head. He thus received the crown of martyrdom. Some of the believers then came forward and took his body, wrapped it and buried it.
When his mother, his sister, and his wife heard that he was martyred, they rejoiced for his soul and came to where the body was and kissed it, weeping. They shrouded it in expensive cloth and poured sweet scents and perfumed oil over it. A church and a monastery were built in his name during the reign of the righteous Emperors Arcadius and Honourius. When the king of Persia heard the news of the miracles and wonders which appeared through the body of St. James and of the other honored martyrs, he ordered all the bodies of the martyrs in all parts of his kingdom, to be burnt. Some of the believers came and took the body of St. James and brought it to Jerusalem and entrusted it to St. Peter El-Rahawy, Bishop of Gaza. The body remained there until the reign of Marcianus, who persecuted the Orthodox Christians everywhere. St. Peter, the Bishop, took the body to Egypt. There he went to the city of Behnasa, where he stayed in a monastery occupied by devoted monks. It happened that at the sixth hour, while they were praying in the place where the holy body laid, St. James appeared to them with many other martyrs of Persia. They joined them in singing, blessed them and disappeared. Before leaving, however, St. James told them that his body should stay there as the Lord commanded. Despite this, when Anba Peter the Bishop, decided to return to his country, he took the body with him. When he arrived at the seashore, the body was taken from their hands and returned to the place where it had originally been. May his prayers and blessings be with us all, and Glory be to God forever. Amen.