ܕܡܪܥܝܬܐ ܕܐܘܚܕ̈ܢܐ ܡܥܪ̈ܒܝܐ ܕܐܡܝܪܟܐ
|St. Babylas 13th Patriarch of Antioch, September 04|
Saint Babylas (+253). A patriarch of Antioch (237 - 251), During the Decian persecution (249-251) he made an unwavering confession of faith and was thrown into prison where he died from his sufferings. He was, therefore, venerated as a martyr, (according to Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, VI, 39). He asked to be buried with his chains. In the Eastern Orthodox Church his festival is September 4, in the Roman Catholic, January 24.
During this same time the holy and God-fearing bishop of Antioch, Babyla, was making Divine Liturgy in church; he prayed for his flock and taught it bravely to undergo all the tribulations for the faith in Christ. After his abomination of idol-worship, Decius-- wanting to behold the making of the Divine Mysteries, decided to enter the church and by his visit to defile the Sanctuary of the Lord. News of this reached the bishop, and he, not wanting to permit impiety in the temple of God, went out to meet him and block the path to the church. St. Severius the great of Antioch, John Chrysostom's homily upon Saint Babylas and the Acts of the Martyrs relate further concerning him, that Babylas once refused an emperor, on account of his wrongdoing, permission to enter the church and had ordered him to take his place among the penitents. (John does not give the name of the emperor; the Acts mention Numerian). It is more likely the contemporary Philip the Arabian of whom Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History, VI, 34) reports that a bishop would not let him enter the gathering of Christians at the Easter vigil. Later legend elaborates on this, stating that Babylas demanded that he do penance for his part in the murder of the young Gordian III before he would allow Philip to celebrate Easter.
Anyhow, the emperor Decius demanded that the holy bishop worship the idols and in such manner redeem his offence against the emperor, or else face execution. But having convinced himself that the martyr would remain steadfast in his faith, he commanded the military-commander Victorinus to put him in heavy chains and lead him through the city in disgrace. To this the holy martyr replied: "Emperor, for me these chains be as venerable, as for thee is thine imperial crown, and the suffering for Christ for me is as acceptable, as is the imperial power for thee; death for the Immortal King for me is as desirable, as thine life be for thee".
The burial-place of St. Babylas became very celebrated. In 351 the Caesar Gallus built a new church in honor of the holy martyr Babylas at Daphne, a suburb of Antioch, and had the remains of the bishop transferred to it. The intention of Gallus in translating the remains of Babylas to Daphne was to neutralize the pagan effects of the temple of Apollo located there -- or, as Chrysostom expresses it, to "bring a physician to the sick." According to Chrysostom, when Julian the Apostate consulted the oracle of Apollo at the temple in Daphne (362), he received no answer, and was told that it was because of the proximity of the saint. He therefore, had the sarcophagus of the martyr exhumed and taken back to his original place of burial. A few days later, on October 22, a mysterious fire broke out in the temple of Apollo, consuming the roof of the building, and the statue of the god, copied from Phidias' statue of Zeus at Olympia. Julian, suspecting angry Christians were responsible, ordered the Cathedral of Antioch closed, and an investigation into the cause of the fire: Ammianus Marcellinus reports "a frivolous rumor" laid the blame to some candles lit by a worshipper late the previous night. John Chrysostom claimed a bolt of lightning set the temple on fire. The remains of Babylas were reentered in a church dedicated to him on the other side of the River Orontes (Al’asi). Near the close of his discourse John Chrysostom refers to the erection of the church dedicated to Babylas, and to the zeal of the Bishop Meletius in promoting it, who actually took part in the work with his own hands.
The columns and walls of the ruined temple were still pointed out twenty years later.
In the middle ages, the remains of St. Babylas are said to have been moved to Cremona.