Saint Thomas of Mar’as

August 30, 2021

The Holy Father, the fighter, conqueror, the soldier and Apostle of Christ, Thomas, Bishop of the city of Mar’as, the confessor died on this day.  The tongues of men are incapable of describing the glory and righteousness of this Saint.  Beings of flesh are incapable of  understanding  his  excellences  and  virtues.   Originally this Saint  was  an ascetic, and a fighter of the spiritual fight.  He fasted and prayed frequently, and kept vigil by night and by day, and he gave alms in abundance to the poor and needy.  God chose him and made him Bishop of the city of Mar’as, and he protected his flock like the Apostles.  When Diocletian the wicked was reigning, one of his governors came to the city of Mar’as to torture the Christians.  He sent some wicked soldiers to this Holy Father, and they seized him and brought him to him, and they beat him, as they dragged him over the ground, and he arrived in the presence of the governor with his blood dropping on the ground.  And the governor said unto him, “Deny Christ and worship the gods.”  The saint answered and said unto him, “I will not worship filthy stones, I will worship only my Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  Cursed art thou, and thy filthy idols, and cursed are those who worship them.”

The governor was wroth with Saint Thomas, and he tortured him very severely, and he beat him very cruelly, and he hung him up, and boiled pitch and poured it into his mouth and nostrils, and he tortured him for many days.  Now the hearts of those deniers of Christ were like unto stones, and they did not want the saint to die quickly, so they prolonged his torture in order to frighten the multitude, and make them to deny Christ; but they were vanquished, and whilst they were weary of torturing him, he was strong in rebuking them.  They cast him into a dark place and forgot him, and he dwelt in that one place for twelve years.  Each year the wicked men came to him, and tortured him, and cut off one of his limbs.  In this place they cut off his ears, and his nose, and his lips, and his hands, and his feet, and they pulled out his front teeth and his grinders, and his whole body was as black as ink.  They forgot him in that dark prison house until at length those members of his flock, who knew him, thought that he was dead, and they used to perform services of commemoration for him every year.

When they shut him up in prison, a certain believing woman saw him, and she used to come to him by night secretly, and throw in food to him through a little window.  He lived in this way until the righteous Emperor Constantine reigned, and revealed the True Faith of Christ.  He commanded his officers to release all the confessors who were shut up in prison throughout all his dominions.  And that believing woman went into their houses and told the priests about Saint Thomas, and what had happened to him, and how they had shut him up in prison for two and twenty years, and she guided them to the place where he was.  They came to him, and took him out of the prison house, and they carried him on their heads, singing as they went, until they brought him into the church and set him on the throne before the sanctuary.  All the Christians came and received a blessing from him, and they kissed [the places of] his eyelids, which  had  been  cut  off.     When the  Emperor  Constantine  assembled  the General Council of the Three Hundred and Eighteen holy Bishops in the city of Nicea, this father was present with them; and the Emperor Constantine embraced them, and received a blessing from them.

When one made known unto him the fight of this Holy Father, he drew nigh unto him, and bowed low before him, and he kissed all the places whereupon his limbs had been cut off, and he stroked his face and eyes.  And after they had disputed with Arius, the apostate, and vanquished him, and had excommunicated him and cursed him, and driven him out, even as the Holy Spirit taught them, and they had proclaimed with their tongues the True Faith, and drawn up the Law and the Judicial Regulations and the Canons,  this  holy  father  Abba  Thomas  departed  to  the  seat  of  his  office.  He assembled the priests and all his flock and he proclaimed to them the True Faith, and he explained unto them what they found difficult, and he made them to understand it, and he commanded them to keep it and to wax strong therein.  After this he lived a few days, and having pleased God he died in peace; and all the days of his office were forty years.  he  departed  to  God  bearing  a  crown  of  victory,  and  inherited  everlasting  life.

Source: The Ethiopian Synaxarium page 716-717