This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22 -- Feast of Saint Anastasius of Persia

Anastaius with martyr's crown
During his years of service in the Persian military, this pagan magician was known as Magundat. I'm not sure whether the magic was his MOS (military occupational specialty) or just a hobby, but I am sure he resigned both at the same time.  This was just after the One True Cross went on tour in the East.  Magundat witnessed the Christians coming out of the woodwork to venerate it, and he no doubt saw more than a few miracles.  Persuaded that Christianity held power far beyond his understanding, he abandoned his faith and accepted baptism, receiving the name Anastasius.

Alternatively, he was part of the Persian Army that conquered Jerusalem in 614. Magundat studied and embraced Christianity while occupying the Holy City.  Either way, two things happened.  The Holy Rood (i.e. the Cross) was carried off as plunder and Magundat became Anastasius. 
Was magus an MOS?

Anastasius joined a monastery where he was a model monk.  Chosroes II (Khosrau II, Xosrov II, خسرو پرویز) called the Undefeatable as he tore west into Egypt, didn't seem to miss Magundat's service very much.  He was a badass guy -- he had his father blinded, then murdered, after taking the throne from him -- but the loss of one soldier wasn't anything to lose sleep over.  That said, no one likes to have desertion rubbed in his face, especially when his face is imperial.  Anastasius' decision to leave the monastery and preach to the Persians was an affront that could not be tolerated.  Anastasius was arrest, chained neck and foot to another prisoner, and condemned to carry stones.  In spite of his crushing work all day, Anastasius slept little but prayed long in the night; a witness reported a holy light shining all around him as he prayed.

Governor Marzabanes of Caesarea (where Anastasius was working) sent word to Chosroes, asking for instructions.  The Undefeatable Emperor said that Anastasius could be freed if he would give up his Christianity.  In fact, he wouldn't even really need to give it up; he could just say that he was giving it up and then he would be freed.  If he wanted, he could then go back to his monastery and pray to Jesus all day and night.  He wouldn't even have to apostatize publicly -- a quiet word to Marzabanes would suffice.

If figure this is a test of the Governor as much as Anastasius.  What I hear the Emperor saying is, He's your problem.  If you want to pretend that he apostatized so you can let him go, that's up to you.  If you'd rather kill him, go for it.  It is hard to know if Marzabanes heard it that way, but he chose to question Anastasius and got nowhere.  He passed him along to the Euphrates, where someone closer to the throne questioned him.  And beat him.  Repeatedly. For three days.  No change. 

Here's a nice detail in an otherwise predictable story.  The jailer was a Christian, so he let other Christians visit Anastasius in between the questioning and the beatings.  They prayed with him and for him, kissing him and venerating him as a living saint.  They wiped the blood from the wounds and saved the bandages as relics.  They even pressed wax on his chains to save as relics.  Anastasius, with all the humility that befits a saint, was embarrassed by the attention and asked them to stop, but of course they didn't.

Let not the carrion beasts feed upon him. 
Anastasius was taken to Barsaloe (near modern Rasapha, Iraq) with three score and more other Christians.  They were strangled, then beheaded, then left for the scavenging beasts to devour.  Neither the birds nor the dogs would eat Anastasius, so his relics were gathered and eventually sent along to Italy for (more) veneration.  His body went to a chapel near the Lateran, but his head went to Saint Vincent's Church, which became Saints Vincent and Anastasius Church.  His tunic went to his old monastery.

A nice detail of the story is that he lived for a time with a goldsmith in Jerusalem.  From this, he is appointed the patron of silver- and goldsmiths.  To him, I commend he care of D. Cole, who crafted my wife's wedding and engagement rings, and of course the Rick Beaulieu and his family, owners of Springer's Jewellers for three generations. 

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