March 31, 2023

Synaxarion of the Holy Hieromartyr Hypatios, Bishop of Gangra

St. Hypatios of Gangra (Feast Day - March 31)

 By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite


A woman slays by casting a stone in a vital area,
Hypatios, alas wretched woman!
On the thirty-first Hypatios was carried off to life.
Our Holy Father Hypatios lived during the reign of Constantine the Great from the year 318, and is recognized as one of the God-bearing Fathers of the first synod of Nicaea who gathered together in the year 325. Because of his virtuous and godly conduct, he performed great miracles, and many crowds of unbelievers he brought to Christ, and building a house, he received those of that generation that hastened to him.

One time he caused to vanish those who encircled the land known as Asplanga. When he would walked around at night, he was illuminated by a divine and bright light. And bitter waters he was able to change and make sweet.

During the reign of Constantius, the son of Constantine the Great, a great dragon appeared, entered into the royal treasury, and caused such fear among the people that no one was able to approach the treasure. Whoever dared to approach, the dragon killed. This presented a difficulty to the emperor, who did not know what to do.

Having heard of the fame of this Saint Hypatios, he sent ambassadors and mediators to him, begging him to come to him. The Saint went, and seeing how the emperor received him with all manner of honor and reverence, and how he groveled at his feet, he lifted him up and said to him: "Have courage and sorrow not, O emperor, for what is impossible with man, is possible with God. Believe therefore and take courage in God, and you will soon see God's unconquerable power." This is what the Saint said.

When the emperor showed him the beast from a far place, he said: "O Father, do not be careless and approach the dragon, lest what happened to others will not happen to you, so that you will not die because of my sins."

The Saint replied: "My prayers, O emperor, have no such power to perform great wonders. Your faith, and the Lord's great and unconquerable power, these are able to do all things."

The Saint then fell to the ground, and prayed for a long time. He then got up, and said to the emperor: "Put out an order for a great fire to be built in the middle of the market place, where the column of your father Constantine stands, and those who light the fire let them wait for me there until I arrive."

Having said this, the Saint approached the treasury by himself, holding his staff in his hand, on which was the form of the honorable Cross, and he opened the door. Striking the dragon with his staff, he accomplished nothing. Meanwhile there were some from afar who saw this, and they were frightened and terrified, thinking that the Saint was killed by the dragon. But the Saint lifted his eyes to Heaven, and calling upon God, he put his staff into the mouth of the beast, saying: "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, follow me, O beast." The dragon bit down on the staff of the Saint, and followed him, so that he banished him from there. Coming out of the royal treasury, he passed through the entire market place, pulling back on the dragon, to the astonishment of all, for the dragon was frightening and extraordinary to behold. It is said that it was sixty cubits in length.

As they approached the fire, he said to the dragon: "In the name of Jesus Christ, who I the least of all proclaim, I order you to enter into the fire." That terrible dragon then positioned himself arched, bent over and spread wide, and cast himself into the middle of the fire before all, and he was consumed. All those who saw this were amazed, and they glorified God, because God had shown them in their days, such a luminous and wondrous Saint. The emperor was astonished by this unexplainable phenomenon, and he extremely honored the Saint, even having an icon being made of him on a board of wood, which he placed over the door of the royal treasury, to prevent any adversarial thing from entering. Then having embraced the Saint, he sent him back to his district.

Having departed from Constantinople, he returned to his throne while glorifying and blessing God. Because he was envied by the impious Novatians,* they all ran after him, together with the unbelievers who dwelled in Lazistan and Trebizond: for this reason the abominable ones waited patiently along a cliff, and when the Saint passed by there, men and women suddenly rushed headlong on top of him, like beasts, and beat him, some with wood, some with stones, and others with knives. They then threw him from a high area into the river. The Saint, now half-dead, slightly spread out his holy hands, and lifting his eyes to heaven, said like the Protomartyr Stephen: "Lord, hold not this sin against them."

While the Saint was still breathing, an abominable and unclean woman, who drank from the full cup of heresy, struck the Saint with a large stone in the head, and in this way the unfortunate and wretched one, deprived him of the little life he had left. In this way the Saint delivered his soul into the hands of God. Meanwhile that miserable woman became overpowered by demons, and struck her own chest with that same stone that she used to kill the Saint. Likewise all those who participated in his murder, were punished by unclean demons. After hiding the relic of the Saint in a barn, they departed. But the farmer who owned the barn, when he went to feed grass to his animals, began to hear a heavenly doxology and angelic psalmody from his barn. He then found the holy relic, and proceeded to tell others about it.

When the Christians of Gangra heard this, they gathered at the barn, and after they lamented the absence of their shepherd together, they took his holy relic to Gangra, and buried him there in a distinguished place. Meanwhile the murderess of the Saint followed behind the holy relic, weeping and striking herself with that stone which she used to murder the Saint. When the holy relic was buried, she was healed of the demonic possession. Similarly all the murderers of the Saint were healed. And many other miracles took place at the burial of the Saint. Because there are so many, we have not recorded these miracles, due to the difficulty of narrating them.


* Novatians are those who followed the presbyter Novatian of Rome, who did not accept those who repented after denying their Christian faith in the time of persecution, and did not commune those who married a second time. He also said that sins after baptism were not to be shown mercy, according to Epiphanios and Augustine in their books against heresies (and according to the eighth canon of the First Ecumenical Synod in my own Book of Canons).


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