October 23, 2016 -
“THE HOLY MARTYR ARTEMIUS”
In the early years of the 4th century, the great persecutions of Christians were ended by the Emperor Constantine, who established Christianity as the official religion of his empire. Under his orders, pagan temples were destroyed and idol worship was abolished.
Old ways, however, do not die easily. After the death of Constantine, a bitter struggle for his throne ensued between his sons and other members of the imperial family. The ultimate winner in this battle for supreme power was Constantine’s nephew Julian, who immediately renounced Christ and began a campaign to restore paganism to its former prominence.
One of the first to raise his voice in protest was ARTEMIUS, the regional governor of Alexandria. Artemius had been a high ranking official in the court of Constantine the Great, distinguishing himself as a military leader as well. When Julian began to torture the respected leasers of the Church, Artemius went to directly confront the Emperor. Julian urged the aged Artemius to join him in renouncing Christ, commanding him to offer sacrifice to the ancient idols. When he refused, the Emperor ordered to submit to a series of brutal tortures. Despite suffering severely, Artemius remained steadfast in his allegiance to Christ. Julian ordered him beheaded, but Artemius left him to ponder his dying words: “Your end is already near, and in a short time, your memory will perish with a resounding noise.” The saint’s words were prophetic. In less than a year, the Emperor was killed in a fierce battle with the Persians and the new ruler quickly overturned the government’s stance on the Christian Church.