Monday, September 9, 2013


Phileas , Philoromus & Comps.

Feast Day:  February 4

 Died in Alexandria, Egypt,  304-305. Saint Phileas was a rich, eloquent, learned nobleman of Thmuis in Lower Egypt, who was converted to the faith and became bishop of Thmuis. Soon after his consecration at Alexandria, Diocletian's successors captured and arrested him. While in prison for his faith there, he wrote a moving letter to his flock, which has been preserved in part by Eusebius, describing the sufferings of the Alexandrian Christians.

 He wrote that his fellow-confessors were permitted to be insulted, struck, and beaten with rods, whips, or clubs by any person who so desired. Some of the confessors, with their hands tied behind their backs, were secured to pillars, their bodies stretched out with engines, and their sides, belly, legs, thighs, and cheeks hideously torn with iron hooks. Others were hung by one hand, suffering excessive pain by the stretching of their joints. The governor, Culcian, thought no treatment was too bad for Christians.

 The extant account of his examination in court was most probably written up from the notes of an eye-witness (and are published by Combefis, Henschenius, and Ruinart). This fragmentary, Greek manuscript was written within about 15 years of his death and records the fifth and last interview between the bishop and the prefect Culcian. It reveals genuine, if ironic, interest in Christian doctrines, such as the resurrection of the body and the role of conscience, by the prefect and the cool but inflexible rationality of Bishop Phileas.

 The prefect asked, "Can you now be reasonable?" To which Phileas answered, "I am always reasonable and I exercise myself in good sense." In response to repeated demands to offer sacrifice, Phileas answered that the sacrifices that God asks are "a pure heart, a spotless soul, and spiritual perceptions which lead to deeds of piety and justice."

 "Was Jesus God?" asks Culcian. "Yes . . . He did not say of Himself that He was God because He performed the works of God in power and actuality . . . He cleansed lepers, made the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dumb speak . . . He drove demons from His creatures, at a command; He cured paralytics, raised the dead to life, and performed many other signs and wonders." Culcian continues: "Was he not a common man? Surely he was not in the class of Plato." Phileas replied: "Indeed He was superior to Plato."

 "If you were one of the uncultured, I should not spare you. But now you possess such abundant resources that you can nourish and sustain not only yourself but a whole city. Therefore, spare yourself and sacrifice." Phileas answered, "I will not. I have reflected many times and this is my decision."

 He was put to death shortly thereafter, together with an official, Saint Philoromus, who had protested to the prefect against the efforts made to make Saint Phileas apostatize. They both rejected the magistrate's appeal that they should save their lives by compliance for the sake of their wives and children who were present for the trial.

 On the way to execution, Phileas's brother told the governor that Phileas desired a pardon. Culcian called him back and asked if it were true. Phileas answered, "God forbid! Do not listen to this unhappy man. Far from desiring the reversion of my sentence, I think myself much obliged to the emperor, to you, and to your court, for by your means I become co-heir with Christ, and shall enter this very day into the possession of his kingdom" Shortly thereafter, Phileas and Philoromus were beheaded During this persecution about 660 were martyred including Faustus (priest), Didius, Ammonius, Hesychius (bishop), Pachomius (bishop), and Theodore (bishop), whose feast is celebrated on November 26 (Attwater, Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth).

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