Saint of the Day: St. Chryse the Neomartyr

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. Chryse, whose account is found in Volume 4 of the series.)

Saint Chryse the Neomartyr

Living up to the letter of the law is not always easily done, but to abide by every scriptural word calls for a rare devoutness, especially when it is a matter of life and death. This application even under harsh duress and the pain of death has made a sweet girl named Chryse one of the most beloved of saints. In a test of faith in which many could be found wanting, Chryse showed Christian courage unsurpassed by the many brave male counterparts of Christianity.

Born into an impoverished family in Moglena, Macedonia, Chryse was inured to the hardships wrought on her and her family by poverty, Turkish oppression and the harsh winters of the northernmost part of Greece. The people of this remote village were sustained by their Greek Orthodox faith, without which they would long since have been wiped out by Turks.

Chryse was a member of the hardy Greek family that did nothing to amuse their invaders, choosing for the most part to ignore their bothersome manners in order to concentrate on wresting a livelihood from the land once occupied by the likes of Alexander the Great. Lacking the numbers and military hardware to repel their foe, these courageous Greeks carried on as true Christians under an Islamic cloud as the rest of the Christian world looked the other way. Undaunted by the menacing scimitar, they lived as their ancestors had lived at the time of Christ, with none of the conveniences enjoyed by urban centers of the eighteenth-century modern world.

This hardihood was to assert itself one day when Chryse went out to gather firewood. She had unknowingly trespassed on land owned by a wealthy Turk who had wrested his ill-gotten gains from the sweating brows of Greek peasants and, as luck would have it, she was busily engaged when the Turk happened to be nearby. Noticing the fine figure of a girl, the lustful Turk approached, but instead of reproaching her, he extended a hand of friendship with the advice that it would have been better had she asked for permission before cutting his wood. As darkness approached, the Turk offered the hospitality of his nearby home and induced the unsuspecting girl to warm herself prior to lending his servants to accompany her and to take the fi ewood to her home.

The invitation turned out to be a veiled kidnapping as the Turk urged her to remain, eventually to become a Muslim and his bride, thereafter to live in comfort she otherwise would never have known. He was reminded that under no circumstances would she turn her back on Jesus Christ to embrace Islam. When she bolted for the door, servants restrained her. Despite her protests she was kept forcibly, with the not-too-bright Turk confident that her mind, being a woman’s, could be changed. In this case nothing could be further from the truth and it was a standoff until the distraught parents of the girl appeared to claim their child.

The Turk then said she was not being held against her will but being detained to be turned over to authorities for trespassing, unless of course she chose the alternative he had outlined to the hapless Chryse. Using every artifice at his limited command, the Turk, looking at the girl with ever-growing desire, tried to sway the parents, who in the end said that the choice was up to their daughter. Frustrated at every turn, the Turk finally wheeled in a rage and shouted to the girl that he would kill her parents if she did not recant. He reminded her that in this remote area the parents would simply disappear and no one would know the difference. It was when her parents urged her to reconsider that Chryse said that with their suggestion they ceased to be her parents and then proceeded to quote from the Bible.

Chryse cited Psalm 27:10 which says, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.” She went on to quote from memory a passage from Matthew which says, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father and a daughter against her mother and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household...” (Mt. 10:34-38). The enraged Turk sent the bewildered parents away and had charges brought against Chryse. After months in prison, the unrelenting Chryse suffered inhumane torture before being put to death. She died for Christ on October 13, 1795.

Text from Fr. George Poulos' Orthodox Saints. Image from GOArch.org.



Leave a comment