Δευτέρα 11 Μαρτίου 2024

Saints Pionios the Elder and Savina, March 11

 Ὡς ἐγκρυφίας ἄρτος ἐξωπτημένος,
Καυθεὶς προσήχθη Πιόνιος Κυρίῳ.

The Holy Martyr Pionios lived during the time of the emperor Decius (249 - 251 AD) and was an elder of the Church of Smyrna. He controlled the Jews and the Gentiles and convinced them from the Holy Scriptures that there is only one true God, the Creator of all and His only begotten Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and preached that all sinners and unbelievers will be punished and they will be consigned to eternal fire. So he was captured by the pagans along with other Christians. And first he delivered himself in chains to Polemon, the priest of the idols and the ruler of the city Elpidius. He was then taken to the ruler of the country, Viceroy Contylianus, who ordered that he be tortured. They beat him mercilessly to death and after hanging him on a tree, burned his ribs with burning torches. Then they threw him into a furnace and the Saint, praying in it, ended his life as a martyr.

His Synaxis was held in Lithostrotos, where there was a temple dedicated to the Saint.

The memory of Agia Savina is unknown to the Synaxarists. The common memory of the Saints is mentioned in the Vatopedino Codex 1104 f. 22e. It seems that Saint Martyr Savina co-martyred after Saint Pionius.

MARTYRDOM OF SAINT PIONIO THE PRESBYTER

The apostle exhorts us to study the memories of the saints, because he knows that commemorating those who spent their lives with all their hearts in the faith in a right way will also strengthen those who want to imitate the higher ones. It is therefore fitting that we also commemorate the martyr Pionius more, because even when he lived in the world he brought many back from error as an apostle of our time and finally when the Lord called him and he martyred, he left us this book to admonish us, so that we have as a memento of his teaching.
 
On the second day from the beginning of the sixth month, Great Saturday, the day of the birth of the blessed martyr Polycarp, while the persecution of Decius was going on, the elder Pionius and the confessor Savina and Asclepiades, Macedonia and the elder of Orthodoxy were arrested Limnos Church. So Pionius, on the eve of Polycarp's birthday, saw in a vision that on that day they were going to be arrested. So while he was fasting with Savina and Asclepiades, as soon as he saw that on the morrow they were to be arrested, he took three chains and put them round his neck, that of Savina and Asclepiades, and they waited in the house. And this he did for those who were to bring them before the authority, that some might not suppose that they were going, like the rest, to eat idolatrous things, but that all might know that they were determined to be carried directly to prison.

And after they had prayed and taken holy bread and water, on the Sabbath, Polemon the youth appeared to them and those who had been appointed with him to seek out and lead by force the Christians to sacrifice and eat idolatrous things. And the young man says

- Surely you know the emperor's decree ordering you to sacrifice to the gods.
And Pionios said
- We know the commandments of God who "orders" us to worship only him.
And Polemonas said
- So come to the market and there you will obey.
And Savina and Asclepiades said;
- We obey only the living God.
So he led them away without violence. And as they advanced they all saw that they were wearing chains, and as if it were a strange sight a crowd quickly gathered, until they crowded together. And when they came to the marketplace, to the eastern portico with the two gates, all the marketplace and the porticos in the upper part of it were filled with Greeks and Jews and women; for they had a holiday because of the Great Sabbath. And they climbed up on the pedestals and boxes to observe.
So they stood in the middle and Polemon said
- It is good, Pion, to obey, like everyone else, and to sacrifice so as not to be punished.

Extending his hand, Pionios apologized with a face that shone with joy
    - Men, who boast of the beauty of Smyrna, you who live on the banks of Melitas, who, as you claim, are proud of Homer, and those Jews who are with you, listen to me for I have little to discuss with you. I learn that you laugh and rejoice at Christians who defect, and think their mistake of sacrificing willingly a game. But you Greeks ought to have followed your teacher, Homer, who advises that it is not honorable to boast about those who die. And to you, Jews, Moses commands, "if you see the yoke of your enemy fallen under the heavy burden, do not pass over, but pick it up." Similarly, you had to obey Solomon: "if your enemy falls, he says, do not rejoice, and at his stumble, do not be proud".

For I, obeying my teacher, would rather die than break his words, and strive not to change what I first learned, and then taught. So who are the Jews heartlessly mocking? For, although we are their enemies, as they say, we do not cease to be men who have been wronged. They say that sometimes we have the courage and speak freely. So what; Who did we wrong? Who did we kill? Who did we chase? Who have we made to worship idols? Or do they think that their sins are the same as those that some do now because of human fear? But they differ as much as willful sins from involuntary ones. For who compelled the Jews to sacrifice to Beelphegor, or to eat of sacrifices to the dead, or to commit fornication with the daughters of strangers, or to burn their sons and daughters in idols, or to murmur against God, or to accuse Moses of showing ingratitude while they benefit or turn their thoughts to Egypt or while Moses went up to receive the law, to say to Aaron, "make us gods," and make a calf and all the rest they did? Indeed, they can mislead you. But let them read the book of Judges, Kings, Exodus, and all those in which their behavior is rebuked.

But they ask, why some came alone to sacrifice, without violence. And because of them, do you condemn all Christians? Imagine that the present things are like a threshing floor. Which pile is bigger, the chaff or the wheat? Because when the farmer comes to clear the threshing floor with his shovel, the straw, which is light, is easily carried by the wind, but the wheat stays in the same place. Look again at the nets thrown into the sea. Is everything they catch useful? So are the present ones. How then do you want us to suffer these things, as righteous or as unrighteous? If you will as unrighteous, how will you not also suffer the same, since you are judged unrighteous by the same works? But if you want as the righteous, what hope is left for you, if the righteous suffer? "for if the righteous is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner be seen?" For a judgment of the world is at hand, of which we have been fully assured by many.

So I traveled and toured all the land of Judea and after crossing the Jordan, I saw a land that to this day testifies to the wrath of God against it for all the sins its inhabitants committed, killing, driving out and doing violence to foreigners. I saw smoke rising from it to this day, and earth consumed by fire, devoid of all fruit and all liquid substance. I also saw a dead sea, a different water, far from its natural state, weakened by the fear of God and unable to feed animals. And whoever falls into this sea may the water push him up and not be able to hold a human body in it. Because he doesn't want to accept a man, so that he won't be punished again because of a man.

And I am talking to you about things that are far from you. You see and tell of the land of the Decapolis of Lydia, that it has been burned with fire and remains to this day as an example to the ungodly, as well as the rushing lava from the volcanoes of Etna and Sicily, as well as Lycia and the islands. Though these are still far from you, consider the use of hot water—I mean that which springs from the earth—and consider whence it is kindled or warmed, unless it proceeds from some subterranean fire. And some fires and floods are also mentioned, like yours of Deucalion or ours of Noah. The particulars are made to be known by these universals.

This is why we testify to you about the future judgment that will be done by fire from God, through the Word of Jesus Christ. And that is why we do not worship your so-called gods and do not worship the golden image.

And after these and many other things had been said without Pionius being silent for a long time, the youth and his attendants and the whole crowd listened intently, so that there was so much silence that no one spoke a word. And after Pionius said again that "we do not worship your gods and do not worship the golden image", they led them out into the open, into the middle, and gathered around them some who frequented the market, who together with Polemon begged them saying ∙

- Listen to us Pioneer, because we love you and you deserve to live for a lot, both for your morals and for your justice. Life is good and seeing this light, and more, they told him. And he said to them
- I too agree that life is good, but that life we desire is better; and the light is good, but the true one. And these, of course, are all good; and we do not avoid them because we like death, nor because we hate the works of God, but we despise them because other, far greater goods await us.
And a certain Alexander, a man of the market and cunning, said;
- Listen to us Pionie∙
And Pionios said
- You better start listening to me. Because what you know, I know, but what I know well, you ignore.
And Alexander, wanting to laugh at him, told him ironically
- And these chains, what do they need?
And Pionios said
- These we wear so that some people will not think, as we pass through your city, that we have come to eat idolaters, and so that you will know that we do not even want you to ask us if we will eat, but we have decided not to go to the temple of Nemesis, but in prison, so that you do not seize us and lead us there by force, as the others, but let us go because we wear chains; for with chains, you did not immediately lead us to the temples of your idols.
And so Alexander was silenced. And again they besought him, and he said,
- thus we have decided, and while he was reprimanding them for many things and talking to them about the future crisis, said Alexander;
- What do these words of yours need, when you will not be allowed to live?
And because the people wanted an assembly to be held in the theater, so that they could hear more there, some who cared about the general approached the young Polemon and said to him;
- Don't allow him to speak, so that they don't all enter the theater and make a noise and ask to know about this man.
After Polemons heard this, he says;
- Pawn, if you don't want to sacrifice, at least come to the temple of Nemesis.
And he said
- But it doesn't suit your idols that we come there.
And Polemonas said
- Listen to us Pion.
And Pionios said
- I wish I could make you listen to me and become Christians.
And they said, laughing out loud;
- No, you can't do this to us and burn us alive!
And Pionios said
- It is much worse to burn after death.
And because Savina sneered, said the young man and his attendants;
- You laugh;
And she said
- God willing, yes. For we are Christians; and those who believe in Christ will doubtless laugh in eternal joy.
And then they tell her
- So you are about to suffer what you do not want; because those who do not sacrifice are locked up in the brothel.
And she said
- Holy God will take care of it.
Again Polemon said to Pionius
- Trust us Pionie.
And Pionios said
- You have an order either to persuade or to punish. You do not convince me; punish me.
Then the young Polemon insists saying;
- Sacrifice, Pawn.
But Pionios said
- I am a Christian.
And Polemonas said
- Which god do you respect?
And Pionios said
- God Almighty, "the one who made heaven and earth and all that is in them" and all of us; He "provides us with all things richly" and we came to know him through his Word, Christ.
And Polemonas said
- So sacrifice to the emperor at least.
And Pionios said
- I do not sacrifice to a person, because I am a Christian.
Then he began to interrogate him in writing, telling him;
- What is your name;
while the secretary kept minutes. Answered
- Pawn.
And Polemonas said
- You are Christian;
And Pionios said
- Yes.
And Polemon the young man said
- Which church?
Answer,
- The Orthodox. After all, there is no other close to Christ.

Then he approached Savina. However, Pionios had previously told her to say that her name was Theodotus, so that she would not again fall into the hands of the lawless Polittis, who had her as a servant, because of her name. For she, in the years of Gordianus, because she wanted to convert Savina, bound her and exiled her to the mountains, where the fools secretly provided her with the necessities. After these they took care of her and she was freed both from Politti and from the bonds and spent most of her time with Pionius and was arrested in this persecution. So Polemon said to her too
- What's your name;
And she answered
- Theodoti.
And he said
- Are you a Christian?
And she says
- Yes, I am a Christian.
And Polemonas said
- Which church?
And Savina said
- The Orthodox.
And Polemonas said to her
- Who do you respect?
And Savina said
- God Almighty, who made heaven and earth and all of us. Whom we have come to know through his Word, Jesus Christ.
Then he asked Asclepiades
- What's your name;
And he answered
- Asclepiades.
And Polemonas said
- You are Christian;
And Asclepiades said
- Yes..
And Polemonas said
- Who do you respect?
And Savina said
- Jesus Christ.
And Polemonas said
- So this is someone else?
And Asclepiades said
- No, he's the same one they mentioned.
So when these things were said, they led them to the prison; and so great a multitude followed that the marketplace was filled. And some said about Pionius;
- How, while he is always pale, now his face is like fire!
And as Savina held him by his garment against the thrusts of the crowd, some mockingly said;
- Look, how she is afraid of being left an orphan.
And someone called out
- If they don't sacrifice, they should be punished.
And Polemonas said
- But our wands do not allow us to have such power.
And someone else was saying
- Look, the human is going to sacrifice.
And he meant our companion, Asclepiades. And Pionios said
- You're lying; he doesn't do that.
And others said
- So-and-so sacrificed.
And Pionios said
- Everyone is free to decide for themselves. So what does this have to do with me? My name is Pionios.
And others said
- Such a terrible punishment, and he insists.
And Pionios said
- You know this better than the hunger, the deaths and the other wounds you experienced.
Then someone said to him
- And you were hungry with us.
And Pionios said
- But I, having my hope in God.
And after he had said these things, while the mob surrounded them in a crowded place, they handed them over to the jailers and threw them into prison. There they found imprisoned an elder of the Orthodox Church named Limnos and a woman, Macedonia from the city of Karini and one of the Phrygian sect named Eutychianos. So while they were in the same place, the guards understood that Pionius and his companions did not accept what the believers brought them. Because Pionios used to say that, "when we needed more, we didn't burden anyone; now how can we get it?". So the jailers, who used to keep a portion of what they brought for the prisoners, were enraged, and they transferred them to cells deeper in the prison, so that they would have no comfort. So after they had glorified God they calmed down and treated them in the usual way, so that the warden changed his mind and transferred them back to the front cells. But they remained saying;
- Praise be to the Lord, because this turned out to be good for us.
Because they had the opportunity to talk and pray day and night.
But even in the prison many pagans came wanting to convince them and marveled at their answers. Of course, those Christian brothers who had been forced to sacrifice came, and with their crying they constantly caused great sorrow to them, especially to the pious and those who lived a righteous life, to the point that Pionius said weeping;
- With an unheard-of punishment I am punished and pierced by seeing the pearls of the church trampled by pigs and the stars of the sky dragged to the earth by the dragon's tail; and the vine planted by the right hand of God being destroyed by a wild boar; and now "the the passers-by harvest from the road". "My children, I conceive you again until Christ is formed in you." "My tender children have trod hard roads."

Now Susanna has been ambushed by the lawless elders, now they discover the tender and beautiful daughter, to satiate her beauty and slander her. Now Haman is drunk, and Esther and the whole city are in turmoil. Now there is no hunger for bread or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord. Or were all the virgins completely drowsy and slept? The word of the Lord Jesus was fulfilled; "will the son of man, when he comes, find faith on earth?". And I hear that each one also delivers up his neighbor, so that "brother will deliver up brother to be put to death" may be fulfilled. Indeed, Satan asked us to sift us like wheat. From fire is the spade in the hands of God the Word to clear the threshing floor. Maybe the salt went crazy and came out to be trampled by people. But let no one think, my children, that the Lord cannot, but we. Why does he say, "My hand cannot save, or my ear has become heavy and does not hear?" But your sins create a gap between me, God and you." Because we have wronged, and some even with contempt. We violated by biting and blaming each other. We destroyed each other. While our righteousness should far exceed the righteousness of "the scribes and Pharisees."
        And I learn that the Jews call some of you to the synagogues. For this reason, be careful that none of you commits a greater and willful sin, and does not sin by blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Do not be with the rulers of Sodom and the people of Gomorrah, whose hands are full of blood. We neither killed prophets, nor did we betray and crucify Christ.
        But why am I telling you so much? Remember what you heard. And because you also heard that, that is to say, what the Jews say, "Christ was a man and died like a freedman." Tell us, then, by whose own hands was the whole world filled with disciples? By whose hand did the disciples and so many others with them die for the name of their teacher? In the name of what self-made man were demons cast out for so many years and are being cast out and will be cast out and what other great things are happening in the Orthodox church? Of course, they ignore that the one who took his own life by his own decision is a suicide. And they say that necromancy has taken place and Christ ascended together with the cross. And which scripture of theirs and ours says these things about Christ? Who of the righteous ever said that? Aren't those who support them lawless? And how can one believe the words of the wicked more than the words of the righteous?
  So I, this lie that they say is now done, I have heard the Jews say since I was a child. And it is written that Saul asked the soothsayer and said to the woman who practiced such divination "bring up to me Samuel the prophet." And the woman saw a man standing up, and Saul knew that it was Samuel, and she asked him what he wanted. So what happened? Could the myth raise Samuel or not? So if they say that "yes, he could," they have confessed that injustice is stronger than justice, and they are still more damned. If they say that "he did not lift him up", then they did not lift up Christ the Lord either.
       But the explanation is as follows. How could the unjust, demonic myth lift up the soul of the holy prophet, which rests in Abraham's bosom? Only the superior can command the inferior. Well, it wasn't Samuel who ascended, as they think - the unborn - but that's the way it is.
        Every man who apostatizes from God is followed by the angels of apostasy, and every druggist and magician and charmer and soothsayer is served by devilish ministers. And we should not wonder. For the apostle says: "this Satan is transformed into an angel of light. It is no big deal, then, if his servants are transformed into servants of righteousness,” as the Antichrist will appear as Christ. So he did not raise Samuel. But demons from the Tartars took the form of Samuel and appeared to the ecstasy and apostate Saul. And the Bible itself will teach you. So the Samuel who appeared to Saul allegedly says: "and you will be with me today", how is it that the idolatrous Saul is found with Samuel? Indeed, it is evident that he will find himself with the demons who deceived and possessed him. So it wasn't Samuel. So if it is impossible to raise the soul of the holy prophet, how is it possible to raise from the earth Jesus Christ, who is in the heavens and whose ascension His disciples saw and died so as not to renounce him? Although with these you cannot face them, say to them, "however things may be, we of you who have committed fornication and idolatry without reason are better." And do not be carried away by them in despair, brothers, but stand firm in Christ in repentance. Because he is merciful and will receive you again as his children.
After he had said these things and urged them to come out of the prison, Polemon the youth and Theophilus the hippopotamus appeared before them together with policemen and a large crowd and said;
- Here, Euctimonas the leader sacrificed you, be convinced too. You are requested by Lepidus and Euctimon in the temple of Nemesis.
Pionios said
- Those who have been thrown into prison are right to wait for the lieutenant; why do you enter his fields?
So they left, after saying a lot, and came back with policemen and a mob, and Theophilos the hipparchus says with cunning;
- The proconsul has sent an order to be transferred to Ephesus.
Pionios said
- Let the envoy come and receive us.
The emperor said
- Yes, but he is an honorable imperial official; but if you do not wish, I have the authority to transport you myself.
        And he seized him by tightening the scapula around his neck, so that he almost choked him, and handed him over to a policeman. So the others and Savina came to the market and while they were shouting loudly "we are Christians", and were falling down to avoid being taken to the pagan temple, six policemen were holding Pionius with his head down, as they could not restrain him from kicking them with his knees in the ribs and paralyzing their arms and legs.
        So they carried him, while he was crying out, and laid him down beside the altar, where Euchtimon was still in an idolatrous posture. And Lepidus said
- Why don't you sacrifice, Pawn?
Those who were with Pionius said;
- Because we are Christians.
Lepidus said
- Which god do you revere?
Pionios said
- He who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
Lepidus said
- So who is the crucified one?
Pionios said
- He whom God sent for the salvation of the world.
The rulers then burst into loud laughter and Lepidus cursed Christ. And Pionios was shouting
- Respect godliness, honor justice, have a sense of sympathy, faithfully follow your laws. You punish us as unfaithful, and you yourselves are unfaithful; you were commanded to punish, not to extort.
And then a certain Rufinus who was present and was considered an excellent orator, said;
- Stop, Pion, don't talk nonsense.
And he answered him
- Are these your speeches? Are these your books? Not even Socrates from the Athenians suffered this. Now everyone is unemployed and unemployed. Did Socrates and Aristides and Anaxarchus and the rest speak nonsense, according to your view, because they exercised justice and philosophy and prudence?
And Rufinus heard this and kept silent.
And one of the distinguished and glorious seculars, and Lepidus with him, said;
- Don't shout, Pawn.
And he said to him
- And you don't extort; light a fire and we'll go up by ourselves.
And a certain Terentius from the crowd cried out;
- You know that he also restrains the others so that they don't sacrifice.
Then they put wreaths on them, but they broke them and threw them away. And the official of the municipality took a stand holding the idol. Of course he didn't dare approach anyone, but he himself ate it all in front of everyone's eyes. And while they shouted "we are Christians", they did not know what to do with them and sent them back to prison, while the mob mocked and beat them. And someone says to Savina∙
- You couldn't die in your homeland?
And she said
- What is my hometown? I am the sister of Pionius.|
And Terentius who was then in charge of the duels said to Asclepiades;
- I will ask you as a convict for my son's duels.
And Asclepiades answered him
- You don't scare me with that.
And so they went to prison. And as Pionios was entering the prison, one of the policemen hit him hard on the head and injured him. But he remained calm. But the hands and sides of the one who hit him were inflamed, so that he could hardly breathe. And after they entered they glorified God that they remained unharmed in the name of Christ and were not overcome by the enemy, nor by Euchtimon the hypocrite, and they constantly chanted and prayed for courage.
And it was said after this that Euchtimon had the claim that we should be forced to sacrifice and that he himself carried the lamb to the temple of Nemesis, and after it was roasted and eaten, he wanted to take the rest home. With the result that he became so ridiculed because he stepped on his oath, as he swore under the crown to the fate of the emperor and to the Nemeses that he is not a Christian and will not omit any of the things that are necessary for denial, like the rest.
After these the proconsul came to Smyrna and after Pionius was brought in, he was martyred on the 12th of March and while the following minutes were being observed. After the proconsul Kytillianos sat in front of the platform, he asked him;
- What is your name;
- Pawn.
- Do you sacrifice?
- No
- What religion or sect do you have?
- Catholics.
- Which Catholics?
- I am an elder of the Orthodox Church.
- Are you their teacher?
- Yes, I taught them..
- Are you a class teacher?
- Of godliness.
- Which religion?
- To God the Father who created all things
- Sacrifice. No, I must pray to God.
- We all respect the gods and the sky, and the gods that are in the sky. Are you devoted to air? Then sacrifice to him.
- I am not devoted to the air but to him who created the air and the sky and all that is in them.
- Tell us, who created them?
- You don't allow me to say.
- However, the god, that is, Zeus who is in the sky. Because he is the king of all gods
And while Pionios was silent and they hanged him, they said to him;
- Do you sacrifice?
- No.
And after they tortured him again with nails, they said to him;
- Repent; why are you being unreasonable?
- I am not being unreasonable, but I respect the living God.
- Many others sacrificed and live and put their minds to it.
- I don't sacrifice.
- Now that we ask you, think carefully and repent.
- No.
- Why are you walking towards death?
- Not towards death, but towards life.
- You are doing no great feat rushing to death. For death is despised even by those who are enlisted to fight against beasts for little money. And you are like them. So because you rush to death, you will burn alive.
And from the sign it was read in Roman: "Pionius, who confessed that he is a Christian, we condemned to be burned alive".
So Pionius hastened to the stage because of the willingness of faith and the presence of the jailer, he voluntarily took off his clothes. Then, as soon as he realized the purity and beauty of his body, he was filled with joy and looked up to heaven and thanked God for keeping him thus. Then he lay down on the wood and handed himself over to the soldier to drive the nails. And after he was nailed, the public executioner said to him again;
- Repent and your nails will be removed.
- Indeed, I felt them sunk in.
And after thinking a little, he said
- That is why I hasten, to rise faster, meaning the resurrection of the dead. And they lifted him up on the stake, and after them also a certain elder Mitrodorus, of the sect of the Marcionites. And it happened that Pionius was on the right and Mitrodorus on the left, while both were looking towards the east. And after they had brought the materials and the wood and piled them around, Pionius closed his eyes, so that the crowd might know that he expired. But he was praying in secret, and when the prayer was over, he opened his eyes. But already the flame was rising and he with a happy face pronounced the last amen and said
- "Lord, receive my soul."
He expired quietly and without pain and gave his spirit as a bequest to the Father, who promised him that he would preserve all his blood and all his soul, which was unjustly condemned.
Such was the life lived by the blessed Pionios, pure, blameless, uncorrupted, always having his thoughts directed to God the Almighty and to the "mediator of God and men, Jesus Christ", our Lord, and such an end was achieved and, having won the great struggle, he passed from the narrow door into the wide and great light. And his crown was revealed with the body. For after the fire was extinguished, we who were there saw him in the state of a flourishing athlete adorned. For his ears too were not deformed and the hairs on his scalp were intact and his chins were adorned with budding hairs. And his face shone again, thanks to a miracle, so that the Christians would lean more on the faith, while the unbelievers would come down in fear and with a depressed conscience. These took place when the viceroy of Asia was Julius Proclus Kytillianus, the emperor's viceroys were G. Messisius Cyntos Trajanus Decius Sebastos for the second time and Uettius Gratus, on the 12th of March for the Romans, while for the Asians on the 19th of the 6th month, Saturday , ten o'clock, while according to our calculations, during the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory forever and ever. Amen.