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E02574: The Martyrdom of *Agathangelos (bishop and martyr of Damascus, S01252), preserved only in Georgian, recounts the miracles and martyrdom of Agathangelos in Damascus under Emperor Severus Alexander and his subsequent death under Emperor Gordian. Translated before the 9th c. from a lost Greek original.

online resource
posted on 16.03.2017, 00:00 by naleksidze
Martyrdom of Agathangelos of Damaskos

Summary:

§ 1: During the reign of Emperor Severus, Christians were severely persecuted. Severus had a close friend called Koms, and the two persecuted the Christians, many of whom died. The churches were demolished and the faithful dispersed across the whole Empire.

§ 2: In those days, a certain pious man called Agathangelos lived in Damascus, who was originally Jewish and who was known for his kindness. His Christianity was revealed to the Emperor's friend, who summoned Agathangelos to his court. He tried to persuade Agathangelos to reject Christ and to embrace the Roman gods, promising him many rewards in Severus' name.

§ 3: Agathangelos' answer was bold, whereby he demonstrated to his judge that the Christians were performing numerous miracles in true God's name, and he was determined to stay true to his faith.

§ 4: ვითარცა ესმა ესე კომსსა და მჴედართა მისთა: და კრებულსა დიდძალსა ფრიად: რომელნი თანა დახუდეს ჰრქუეს აგათე-ანგელეს: შენ სთქუ ვითარ\მედ აღადგენ მკუდართა: აწ ესერა ქალაქსა შინა მომკუდარ არს ჭაბუკი: ძჱ დადაკაცი\სა ქურივისაჲ დღეს: აწ აღადგინე იგი წი\ნაშე ჩუენსა და გვრწმენეს ჩუენ ვითარმედ სიტყუაჲ შენი არს ჭეშმარიტ:. მაშინ მოი\ღეს ცხედარი. რომელსა ზედა იდვა მკუდარი იგი: ხოლო წმიდამან აგათე-ანგელე ილოცა ქრისტჱს მიმართ და აღადგინა მკუ\დარი იგი და მისცა დედასა თჳსსა:. ვითარ\ცა იხილა კოსმან და მჴედართა: და ყო\ველთა მოქალაქეთა: ყოველთა ერთობით და\უკჳრდა: და თჳთ მკუდარსა მას: რომელი აცხოვნა. ჰრწმენა ღმერთი: და უკჳრდა ესე ყოველთა მთავართა: რომელი ძალი აქუნდა წმიდასა მას: და მიერითგან ხედვიდეს მას. ვითარცა ანგელოზსა ღმრთისასა:.

'When Koms, his soldiers and the multitude of people heard this, they told Agathangelos. "You said that you can raise from the dead. A young man, son of a local widow, died today in this town. Bring him back to life in our presence and we will believe that your words are indeed true." They brought the bed, on which the dead man was placed. Saint Agathangelos prayed to Christ and resurrected the dead man and handed him over to his mother. When Koms and the soldiers and all the citizens saw this, all were amazed, and the dead one, brought back to life, believed in God. And all the noblemen were wondering what was the power that the holy man possessed. And since then, they all looked at him as an angel of God.'

§ 5: Ten days later, the Emperor himself visited Damascus on the occasion of a feast. It was immediately reported to him that a certain Agathangelos had brought a dead person back to life, and was performing many more miracles.

§ 6: The Emperor wished to meet Agathangelos, and when he saw the holy man, he was pleasantly surprised, as Agathangelos was thirty years old and fairly good-looking. The Emperor offered his friendship and a place at his table. He also offered to allow him to keep his faith and worship his God, provided he also worshipped Zeus. Agathangelos replied that he would never accept this deal.

§ 7: Then the Emperor ordered his servants to pour hot oil on Agathangelos, but Agathangelos still refused to offer sacrifice to the gods. Then the Emperor wished to know more about the source of Agathangelos' religion. The servants explained to him that it was Christ Jesus, whose teachings he was following. The Emperor knew about Jesus, and that he was son of Mary, and wished to recover Christ's body. He was told by the same servants that after his death and resurrection, Jesus had ascended to heaven in flesh. The Emperor was even more irritated and said that he would pray to god Hermes tonight and ask the god to take him to heaven. The servants recounted to him the story of Simon Magus, who also wished to be taken to heaven, but was thrown down. The king told the servants off because the teaching of the Galilean was disseminated even among them.

§ 8: After this, Agathangelos was taken to the theatre, and twelve lions were unleashed upon him. All twelve however were pacified by God, and on approaching Agathangelos, started licking his feet. Having witnessed yet another miracle, the Emperor, together with one thousand and five hundred people, praised the Lord and were converted to Christianity.

§ 9: The Emperor took Agathangelos with him to his palace, where he told the story of the miracle to his wife. The Empress turned out secretly to be a Christian too, and instructed the Emperor on how to act further as a Christian.

§ 10: Severus engaged in a conversation with Agathangelos over the nature of miracles. He wished to be convinced further, and said that raising from the dead the newly-deceased must have been an easy task, as the souls are still within the bodies. A more challenging miracle, however, would be to raise the dead who had passed many years ago. Severus pointed at a fortress that had been destroyed twenty years earlier, and had caught twenty-nine people underneath. He promised that if Agathangelos' God restored the fortress and brought back to life those people, not only would he become a faithful Christian, but would give half of his kingdom to Agathangelos, and make him a grand prince in the Empire. Agathanelos said that it was God's miracle, and he would indeed bring back those people.

§ 11: Severus dispatched messengers all over the Empire to share the news and summoned multitude of people to Damascus, to come and participate in the miracle. And many thousands arrived.

§ 12: When the multitude assembled, Severus told Agathangelos that these people were ready to be baptised upon witnessing the miracle.

და ვითარცა აღასრულა ლო\ცვაჲ თჳსი შეიძრა მთაჲ იგი და შეძრწუნდა ყოველი პირი ქუეყნისაჲ: ვიდრემდის ყოველი იგი ერთი დაეცა პირდაქცევით ქუეყანასა: მაშინ აღემართა გოდოლი იგი ვითარცა პირველ იყო: და განცოცხლდეს და აღდგეს ყოველნი იგი მკუდარნი. რომელნი დაეპყრ\ნეს პირველად გოდოლსა: ლოცვითა წმიდი\სა მოწამისაჲთა: ვითარცა იგი იყვნეს პირ\ველ:. ვითარცა იგი იყო დღეთა სენექირი მეფისა ზჱ. რაჟამს იგი მეოხ იქმნა და მოივ\ლინა ანგელოზი და მოსრა ას ოთხმეოცი და ხუთი ათასი კაცი წამსა შინა ერთსა: ეგრჱ\თჳე აქა მოივლინა: აგათე-ანგელჱს სიკეთისა\თჳს ცხრა ას ოც და ათორმეტი ათასი სული შეეძინა ქრისტესა. რამეთუ გაბრიელ მთავარანგე\ლოზმან განაპო ქუეყანაჲ და გამოადინნა წყალ\ნი. მდინარჱ დიდი ფრიად. შორის ერსა მას რაჲთა ნათელ იღონ ყოველთა: მაშინ ყოველნი ერთობით აღივსნეს შიშითა და ადიდებდეს ღმერთსა: ხოლო ნეტარმან აგათე-ანგელე გულის-ხმაყო ვითარმედ სასწაულად გამოეცა წყალი იგი. რაჲთა ღირს იქმნეს წყლი\თა მით ერი იგი წმიდასა ნათლის-ღებასა: და ყოველთა გულის-ხმათა ყვეს ესე:.

'And when Agathangelos completed his prayer the mountain moved and the earth shattered until the entire crowd fell on their knees. Then the tower was restored in its original state. And all the dead who have been caught under the tower, came back to life and rose in their original state through the prayer of the holy martyr. Similarly to the days of King Sennacherib, when through his intercession, an angel descended and annihilated 185,000 people, so did [the angel] descend here for Agathangelos' sake and added to Christ 932 souls. For Archangel Gabriel split the earth and made the waters flow into a large river among the crowds so that they may be baptised immediately. Then they all were filled with fear and praised God. Then blessed Agathangelos realised that the water came out miraculously to make the crowd worthy of baptism in this water. And everyone saw this too.'

§ 13: Then Agathangelos heard the voice of the Lord who ordered him to baptise all these people, however not to baptise Severus as he would not keep up with the baptism and would apostatise again. Agathangelos did so and baptised the people, but not the Emperor, who initially was surprised but then conceded. And then there was peace for three years.

§ 14: On the fourth year, Severus resumed the persecution of the Christians, and captured Agathangelos, declaring him a sorcerer. Once again he ordered Agathangelos to worship his god, and when the latter once again refused, he threw him into a cell full of hot tar.

§ 15: The Queen heard what Severus was intending to do to Agathangelos, and tried to dissuade him from this. However, the Emperor grew even angrier and immediately ordered his men to execute his order. Then the Queen went to the place where Agathangelos was thrown into the pit with tar, and wished to pray near the place. She ordered the guard to keep the secret, and they did so. God sent angels from heaven who made themselves visible to the guard.

§ 16: Eighty days later Severus came to the place and asked the guard, what was the miracle that they saw. The guard said:

ვიხილენით ცანი და განხმულ\ნი: და სამნი კაცნი სპეტაკითა მოსილნი გარდამოჴდიან და მოვიდიან: პირველსა მას აქუნ სასაკუმევლე ბრწყინვალჱ: და მეორესა ბარძიმი ბრწყინვალჱ: და მესამესა აქუნ ლა\განი სავსჱ ღვნითა::. ესენი მოვიდიან ადგილ\სა მას და აღადგინიან კაცი ესე ღმრთისაჲ: და ესრჱთ მისციან და შეაჭამიან ზეცისა საზრდელი იგი: და კუალად იქციან კაცნი იგი ცადვე:

'We saw heaven open and three men descend in white cloths and come to us. One was holding a bright incense lamp, the second was was holding a bright phial, and the third one held a bowl with wine. They came to the place and resurrected the man of God. And they gave and fed him with this divine meal. And they went back to the heaven.'

The Emperor responded that these three were Hermes, Herakles and Apollo, to which the guars said that they did not look like them. Then the Emperor summoned Ananias, a wise man, and asked him to explain the miracle. Ananias explained that the guardsmen saw the Holy Trinity. Then they opened the door of the cell in order to remove Agathangelos' bones, but instead what they saw was a radiant man, Agathangelos standing their in full health.

§§ 17-18: The Emperor wished to hear more about Christ and his miraculous birth, and then challenged Agathangelos once again by asking him to heal a multitude of people with various af

History

Evidence ID

E02574

Saint Name

Agathangelos, bishop and martyr of Damaskos : S01252

Saint Name in Source

აგათანგელე

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Georgian

Evidence not before

400

Evidence not after

800

Activity not before

200

Activity not after

250

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Mar Saba Monastery

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Mar Saba Monastery Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Power over life and death Healing diseases and disabilities Miracle after death Miracles experienced by the saint Miracle with animals and plants Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miracles causing conversion Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Soldiers Officials

Source

According to linguistic peculiarities and a very obvious long history of copying, the Georgian Life of Agathangelos must have been produced well before the 10th century when its first manuscript appears. As of now, the Georgian version remains the only extant edition of Agathangelos' life.

Discussion

According to the Life, Agathangelos lived during the reign of Emperor Severus, who must be identified as Severus Alexander (222-235). This identification is substantiated by the further claim in the Life that Agathangelos was executed under Emperor Gordian (238), who reigned soon after Severus Alexander. The Life is in agreement with our knowledge of Severus Alexander's ambiguous relationship towards Christians. He persecuted them, however he was well acquainted with the Christian faith and accepted Christ in his personal pantheon. Agathangelos's Martyrdom is full of hyperbolic miracles of raising from the dead, restoration of demolished towers and other fantastic stories. According to all manuscripts of the Life, Agathangelos was martyred on 9 February. The Synaxary, on the other hand, prescribes Agathangelos' commemoration on 8 February. The 10th c. Georgian manuscript of Agathangelos' Martyrdom (Sin.geo. 62) indicates two dates of Agathangelos' commemoration in the title of the narrative, 8 and 9 February, which may mean that by that time there existed several textual traditions related to Agathangelos. Some later manuscripts prescribe his commemoration on 5 November. However this is a misunderstanding, and the manuscripts confuse this Agathangelos with the date of the martyrdom of another martyr Agathangelos, also known as Clemens of Ankyra.

Bibliography

Edition and study: Kekelidze, K., ეტიუდები ძველი ქართული ლიტერატურის ისტორიიდან 7 [Studies in History of Old Georgian Literature 7] (Tbilisi, 1961), 224-247. Online edition: Martyrium Agathangeli Damasceni, On the basis of the edition in Ḳ. Ḳeḳelidze, Eṭiudebi ʒveli kartuli liṭeraṭuris isṭoriidan VII, (Tbilisi, 1961), 233-247, electronically prepared by Marika Abuladze, Tbilisi, 30.3.2015; TITUS version by Jost Gippert, Frankfurt a/M, 17.5.2015. http://titus.fkidg1.uni-frankfurt.de/texte/etcg/cauc/ageo/gh/ghkek/ghkek.htm

Continued Description

flictions. Agathangelos did so.§ 19: The Emperor challenged him one final time and ask him to bring back to life two apple trees in his garden that have been long dead. Agathangelos did this too.§ 20: Then Severus openly confessed Christ and sent Agathangelos to Damascus with a small army, and commissioned him with destroying all the pagan temples and idols. Agathangelos did so, and upon completing this, Severus brought two bishops to Damascus, and made them consecrate Agathangelos as bishop of the city.§ 21: Three years later Severus died, and Gordian, his nephew came to power. The new ruler began rebuilding pagan temples and idols, and demonstrated extreme animosity towards the Christians. Agathangelos tried to talk sense to the new Emperor, however the latter immediately brought numerous tortures upon him. But when he saw that tortures made no effect on Agathangelos, he simply ordered his men to kill him with the sword. § 22: Agathangelos was taken outside the city to a certain nobleman's place. When Agathangelos kneeled he heard a voice:ჵ მონაო ჩემო: ამიერითგან არღარა იყოს სახელი შენი აგათე-ანგელე: არამედ გეწოდოს აგათონ-ანგელოზ: ამიერით\გან გუამი შენი იყოს შესავედრებელ და სა\რგებელ  ყოველთა კიდეთა ქუეყანისათა: და ყოველნი რომელნი ხადოდიან სახელსა შენსა მეოხ ეყავ მათ ყოველთა სენთა: და საუკუნესა მას ყოველნი ცოდვანი მიეტევნენ: ხოლო აწ შენ მიგიყვანო კრებულსა მას თანა წინაჲსწარმეტყუელთასა: და საყდარსა მოციქულთასა რაჲთა იდიდო:. და შემდგომად ჴმისა ამის ღმრთი\სა მიერ შეჰვედრე სული თჳსი მა\ხჳლისა მიერ მშჳდობით ჴელთა დამბადებე\ლისა თჳსისათა:. იწამა წმიდაჲ აგათონ-ანგე\ლოზ თთუესა ფებერვალსა: ცხრასა მეფობასა გორდიონ უშჯულოჲსასა:'My servant, from now on, your name will not be Agathangelos, but instead, you will be named Agathon-angelos. From now on your body will be used for prayers and will serve everyone on both ends of the world, and whoever invokes your name, you will intercede for sake of their afflictions. And all their sins will be forgiven. But now I shall take you to the host of the prophets and the house of the apostles, where you will be glorified. And after the voice, he handed over his soul in peace thrown the sword to his birth-giver. Agathangelos was martyred in the month of February, on the ninth day, under the rule of Gordian the ungodly.'Text: Kekelidze, 1961, 241-247; http://titus.fkidg1.uni-frankfurt.de/texte/etcg/cauc/ageo/gh/ghkek/ghkek.htm. Translated by N. Aleksidze.

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