(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 we commemorate St. Myron, whose account is found in Volume 3 of the series.)
Saint Myron the Martyr
When Christ said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God” (Mk. 10:25), it was not His intent that wealth automatically preclude passage from this earthly life to the paradise anticipated in the next. Affluence is no sin, but some questionable ways of its acquisition and, in many cases, its attendant greed are not the types that Christ would have in His company. This often misunderstood and maligned quotation of the Savior was intended to apply to those unlike St. Myron the Martyr, who inherited a vast fortune but was utterly devoid of avarice and exemplified the type of man who could figuratively, not literally, ride a camel through the imaginary needle’s eye.
Myron was a native son of Patras, born in the third century to a man of considerable property, an estate which he passed to a son who did not bother to count or estimate it. All Myron knew of his father’s vast holdings was that they were immense, but the joy of acquiring it was nothing compared to the joy he found in Christ. While his father’s wealth was piling up, he was preoccupied with the more rewarding discoveries of the beauty of true Christianity. He seemed to have given himself over to the Messiah early in life, but in the third-century rule of the cruel emperor Diocletian, persecution and death were occupational hazards for anyone who called himself a Christian.
Ordained a priest in Patras, Myron applied himself to the advancement of Christianity as well as the spiritual and physical welfare of all Christians within his reach. Unlike other priests much less fortunate than himself, he was spared the task of going among the communicants for money. If a church was needed, he simply paid for it out of his own pocket, and the estate with which he could had have castles and servants for his own comfort became a cornucopia out of which issued churches, hospitals, orphanages, and seemingly endless contributions for worthy causes – all in the name of the Lord. The community of Achaia looked up to him not only as a great benefactor but as one whose spiritual wealth stamped him as a man of God. Leaving the disposition of his wealth to trusted Christian friends, Myron devoted himself exclusively to the spiritual needs of his fellow Christians and to the expansion of the Christian faith. His firm resolve in conversion of pagans gave him fame through virtually the entire empire.
To the victorious emperor Decius and his cohorts, the Christians were a group from whom taxes could be exacted, representing no real threat to the state and looked upon as fanatics to be made sport of with scorn and derision. Now and again, a figure would rise out of the crowd and serve to launch one of their sporadic persecutions. Such a figure was Myron, whose reputation incensed the emperor, who called for his apprehension and trial as a menace to royal authority.
A contingent of soldiers led by a man named Antipatros chose of all days Christmas Eve as the hour of arrest and callously marched into the cathedral while Myron was conducting services. Unlike the gallant Becket, who was put to the sword in his own cathedral centuries later, Myron suffered only the embarassment of forced entry into his church, for which the soldiers received a tongue-lashing from the usually gentle priest, who reserved his most contemptuous remarks for Antipatros. Needless to say the interrupted services were not concluded and Myron was rudely escorted from his beloved church.
The command came down from the emperor himself that the gallant Myron be made an example so as to discourage the further proliferation of this new faith which made brave men out of seemingly meek individuals. Antipatros lost no time in lashing Myron to a post in the public square. On command, a few soldiers drew their knives and slashed deftly at their victim, taking care no mortal wound was inflicted but making sure that a twist of the blade here and there would bring forth intense pain. When Myros did not even flinch but simply praised the name of the Lord while his enemies were doing their worst, Antipatros ordered the cruel proceedings to halt, since the faces of the onlookers indicated the torture was defeating its own purpose. A huge fiery pit into which 250 condemned criminals had been cast was burning its fiercest when Myron was tossed in, only to emerge unscathed. Seeing the futility of this, Antipatros had Myron beheaded. He gave his life for Christ on August 17, 284.
Text from Fr. George Poulos' Orthodox Saints. Image from GOArch.org.