June 26, 2023

Holy Martyr and Unmercenary Medicus of Otricoli (+ 172)

St. Medicus of Otricoli (Feast Day - June 26)

By Archimandrite Epiphanios Dimitrios,
Preacher of the Sacred Metropolis of Dimitrias

This glorious Martyr was a physician in both name and profession. He was born in the city of Otricoli in Italy and was attracted to the Christian faith by the many miracles that took place in the temple where there were the sacred relics of another ancient martyr, Saint Victor, which had been transferred there from the city of Damascus in 171.

Medicus was accused of being a Christian in the Province of Otricoli Terenziano, during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Prefect Terenziano, after seeing the immutability of Medicus' faith and because the Saint said that idols are demons, put him in prison, ordering that no one should bring him food or water, so that he would either be forced to deny his faith or die from hunger.
After twelve days had passed, the Prefect thought that the Saint would have died. So he inquired about him, and when the guards told him that he was healthy and alive and that he would still rather die than worship idol gods, he used other means to persuade him.
He summoned him again before him and promised him offices and the friendship of the emperor if he would sacrifice to their own gods. But the Saint publicly declared that he did not want to worship or sacrifice to deaf, dumb and blind idols that have been made by men, nor did he want any other friendship, even that of the emperor, than only that of God and His faithful servants.

Terenziano then ordered him to be bound to a large tree and his hands and feet to be tied with sharp and thick iron knots. In this torment, the Saint thanked God, who judged him worthy of being tortured for His love and included him among His faithful, saying: "I hope in my God and fear nothing." Then the Prefect took him down from the tree, put him on the ground and ordered five soldiers to beat him with thick sticks. At the same time he was told to sacrifice to the gods that the emperor worshiped.

The Saint replied: "My God is the Emperor of emperors and whoever sacrifices to the false gods will die an eternal death." Terenziano, full of anger, suspended him upon the rack and with burning fires they burned him, and with hooks and iron claws they tore his flesh. The Saint in that abominable torture was united with God and begged to give him strength to be able to suffer enough for His love, and addressing the tyrant he said: "Poor man, do you not see that your enmity makes me gain more love of my God?"

The Prefect then tried to persuade him with nice words. But he found him very charismatic and enlightened and wondered: "Are you saying that faith in Christ is real and ours is madness?"

He was perplexed but not convinced, and as it was not possible for anyone to surpass him in knowledge, he threw him into a huge fire, and because he came out unscathed, he stripped him, and after binding him with great iron chains he beat him like a madman, and then threw him in prison. But after five days, he found him healthy, praying to God.

Then he said to him: “Where did you learn, O Medicus, the magical arts? If you do not renounce it to worship our own gods I will torture you so much that you will become an example to all Christians."

The Saint answered him: "It is not a magical art, but I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is alive and gives me the strength to overcome the pains in every torture. That's why I'm not afraid of your threats and tortures and I'm not going to sacrifice to false gods."
Then the Prefect was so enraged that he ordered, after beating the Saint with sticks, to cut off his head. When he heard the decision the Saint gave endless thanks to God, because by taking his life in such a way, he could very soon meet all those martyrs who had suffered martyrdom and had died for the love of Christ. He was then carried by the leaders outside the city walls and the executioner cut off his head.

Thus he obtained the glorious crown of martyrdom and his soul was carried to Heaven by the Angels in 172 on June 26th.

His body was buried at night in a cave near the Church of Saint Victor, by a certain Christian named Elazimus, who was a priest, outside the city, and was later removed to the underground church, and exposed for a long time to public veneration under the Altar of a chapel in his honor. In later centuries a temple was built in the town of Otricoli and called Campo di San Medico. Pope Eugene III in the city of Viterbo on February 27, 1148, confirms according to the canons of St. Augustine, as did Pope Honorius III in 1221 and Pope Gregory IX and finally Pope Alexander IV on existence of this place and of his sacred relic.

In 1611, on September 5, Gio Battisti Tosco da Regio, Bishop of Narni, found behind an old warehouse the Church of Saint Medicus and his sacred relic buried together with another 57 Holy Martyrs. So, in July 1612, a festive translation of the sacred relic took place from the church outside the city, to the new one inside in the city of Otricoli.

Later on May 18th 1613, he placed the Saint's relic in an underground crypt, under the Holy Altar, in the central church of Otricoli, where it remains to this day.
A fragment of the sacred relic of the Holy Martyr and Unmercenary Medicus is kept in the Cathedral Church of Saint Nicholas in Nikaia of Attica.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
As an unmercenary physician, you ever pour out healings, for the sick O Medicus, due to your sympathy; with brave thoughts you endured, bitter and uncomfortable pain, afflictions through scourgings in prison, and death by the sword. Rejoice, you who are among the first-fruits of Italy, rejoice you who were slain for your faith, rejoice you who were treasured by God, with eternal riches.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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