Saint of the Day: St. Milos of Babylon

(Welcome to our Saint of the Day series! Each weekday, we present you with an excerpt from Fr. George Poulos' Orthodox Saints series, published by Holy Cross Orthodox Press.Today's saint, Milos, comes from Volume 4 of the series.) 
St. Milos of Bablyon

"A man who was born in Persia, a country that survives to this day as Iran, made his niche in the Christian “Hall of Fame” as a servant of God in a country that appears on no modern map, but is well remembered as Babylon. Its name will endure forever in the greatest book of all, the Holy Bible. The country of Babylon is associated with such greats as the Prophet Daniel of the Old Testament, as well as Milos and the others, which assures the permanence of that ancient biblical country in which they served God long after the strife-torn Middle East has lost its identity.

Born of Christian parents, Milos showed signs at an early age of longing to enter the service of the Lord. As a result, his childhood and youth were given over to the mastery of Scripture and every phase of theology, culminating in his departure for an ascetic life in the least inviting areas of Babylon. His search for anonymity and solitude brought him a reputation and discovery instead, primarily through the pious few who saw him and told of his awesome mien and phenomenal erudition. Although their praise of Milos fell short of a comparison with the Prophet Daniel, it was clear that he enjoyed a proximity to God known only to such men as prophets.

After some years in the bleak wilderness which offered little in the way of sustaining life, Milos emerged unusually wholesome in mind and body, abandoning his seclusion at the bidding of Bishop Gennadios. His impressive credentials very soon prompted Bishop Gennadios to ap-point him bishop of Babylon, but, unfortunately, it came at a time when the country was so deeply mired in sin and sloth, the enfeebled Christian clerics could do nothing but wring their hands and pray at altars that stood in virtually empty churches.

Milos had little success restoring order and decency in communities given over to every form of sin, seemingly caught up in a web of evil with their backs turned to Jesus Christ. Warning that they were offending the state, as well as God, for which they would be punished, he urged them to mend their ways lest their civil offenses bring the wrath of the king upon them. Unable to stem the tide, Milos announced he was leaving in utter frustration, to return only after they had received harsh justice at the hands of a state which would soon enough tire of their antics. With cries of derision ringing in his ear, he left to spend two years with the famous St. Anthony’s pupil, Ammonios, in the Holy Land.

The prophecy of Milos came true. Civil disobedience was literally stamped out when a merciless king not only put the sword to countless civilians, but turned loose his army of three hundred elephants, who crushed underfoot or bowled aside all that stood in their path. When news of this devastation reached Milos, he left the good company of Ammonios and returned to Babylon. His first service was sparsely attended, but when he made it known that it was not in his heart to punish them as the state had, he restored the weakened faith of those who heard him.

With a determination to restore peace and piety to the entire country, Milos traversed all of Babylon in a religious revival that saw Christianity once again the commanding influence of the community as a whole. His sweeping successes did not go unnoticed by those in state authority, particularly a small group of the envious who looked upon the great bishop as a menace to their own authority. The malicious few grew in number and were influential enough to sway the king, who together with his brother and confidant brought before them the guiltless bishop and four others from the episcopal see. 

By royal decree a trial was waived, and the four aides were taken to prison and shortly thereafter stoned to death. Milos was placed on the dreaded rack and tortured. He was released only to be propped up against the wall as a target for the arrows of the king and his brother, each of whom prided themselves on their archery skill. Before a bow could be strung with an arrow, Milos declared that both brothers would die by the same means. Amidst gales of laughter, the deadly arrows were unleashed. But shortly after this cruel execution, the two brothers were hunting for deer, and just as a buck bolted out of the woods between them, they unleashed arrows simultaneously, each missile finding the other brother’s heart. Milos died for Christ on November 10, 357."

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