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Saint Basil the Holy Martyr of Ancyra (22 March)

Saint Basil strove in martyrdom during the short reign of Julian the Apostate, from 361-363. The Saint was denounced as a Christian to Saturninus, Governor of Ancyra, who, when Basil would not deny Christ, had him hanged from a post and scraped on his sides, then beaten, and cast into prison.

A few days later, when Julian himself came through Ancyra, the Saint was brought before him and was asked to deny Christ, Whom he rather confessed the more. Julian then had strips cut in his flesh, so that they were left hanging from his body in front and in back. The valiant Martyr tore one of these strips off of his body and cast it into Julian’s face. At this Julian commanded that iron spits be heated fiery hot; Saint Basil’s belly, his back, and all his joints were pierced with them, and he received the crown of martyrdom.

Under Emperor Constantius, Basil endured and suffered much at the hands of the Arians. He was renowned as a great zealot of Orthodoxy and a true shepherd of his entrusted flock in Ancyra. When Julian the Apostate ascended the throne, he began to persecute Christians. Because Basil openly condemned this new evil and strengthened his people in the Faith, he was cast into prison.

When Emperor Julian came to Ancyra, Basil was brought before him. The emperor tried to persuade Basil to abandon his faith in Christ, promising him honors and riches. Basil answered the emperor: “I believe in my Christ, Whom you denied and Who gave you this earthly kingdom; but that will be taken away from you shortly. Have you no shame before the sacred altar, under which you were saved when they sought to kill you as an eight year old child? Therefore, this temporary kingdom will be taken from you shortly, and your body will not be buried after your soul has been violently wrested from you in bitter pains.” Julian became enraged and ordered that seven strips of skin be pealed from Basil’s body every day.

The tormentors did this for several days. When Basil appeared again before the emperor, he pealed off a strip of his own skin and threw it into Julian’s face, and crying out to him, he said: “Take it, Julian, and eat, if this kind of food is sweet to you; but for me, Christ is Life.” This incident was proclaimed throughout the towns, and the emperor, out of shame, secretly departed from Ancyra to Antioch. They continued to torture Basil with red hot irons until he gave up his soul to God, for Whom he suffered, in the year 363 A.D.

Apolytikion of Hieromartyr Basil of Ancyra
Fourth Tone

As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Basil. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.