New Monk-martyr Agathangelus of Esphigmenou Monastery

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19 April/2 May

The New Monk-martyr Agathangelus, in secular life Athanasius, was from the city of Ena, in Thrace. He was brought up in a strictly Orthodox family. After his parents’ repose, he entered the naval service. The Turks decided to convert the intelligent and capable youth to Islam. Aware that he would not voluntarily renounce Christ, they fell upon the Saint in Smyrna, wounded him, and threatening him with death, compelled him to adopt Islam. In his confusion, the youth promised to call himself a Muslim, hoping that he would soon be free of the coercers, and would be able to renounce his promise. However, for a long time he was unable to effect an escape, and was tortured by pangs of conscience. Finally finding an opportunity to leave the city, he fled to Holy Mount Athos in search of shelter. Euthemius, Abbot of the Monastery of Esphigmenou heard his confession, and blessed him to take on an obedience, one which St. Athanasius fulfilled with enormous dedication.

St. Athanasius considered even the most difficult spiritual struggles insufficient to demonstrate his repentance of his previous apostasy. He felt that he had to give up his life for the faith in Christ, and he prayed fervently for that to come to pass.

On the fourth Sunday of Great Lent, the nineteen-year-old youth underwent monastic tonsure, and was given the name Agathangelus.

In a dream, Holy Hierarch St. Nicholas the Wonderworker appeared to the newly tonsured monk and promised his assistance. The Abbot of the Monastery interpreted this as a special sign, and blessed St. Agathangelus to confess the Faith in Smyrna before those who had compelled him to renounce it.

In the Ottoman courtroom, the Confessor told of how he had been forced into adopting an alien faith. He publicly renounced Islam and confessed himself to be a Christian. They admonished and sought to persuade St. Agathangelus, but he replied: “I have disdain for your admonitions, your promises, and for you yourselves. I love Christ alone. I seek after Christ, and want to delight in my Christ.” When the judge threatened him with a martyr’s death, the Saint replied: “I am prepared to endure all for my Christ! I welcome all forms of torture with the greatest joy! I only ask that you not delay in acting on your words.”

They bound St. Agathangelus, shackled him with a heavy chain, locked his feet into wooden stocks, and cast him into a dungeon together with two likewise unjustly-condemned Christians, one of whom, named Nicholas, later bore witness to his martyrdom.

On the following day, St. Agathangelus once again stood in shackles before the court. He courageously endured all of the tortures inflicted upon him by the Turks, and was once again taken to prison. When Nicholas informed him that a person of some influence was lobbying the court for his release, St. Agathangelus sent the man a letter asking that he discontinue his efforts and instead pray to God that Agathangelus be strengthened in his martyric struggle.

The Saint prepared for the final test. At midnight, it was revealed to him in a vision that he would be executed no later than 5:00 o’clock, and he joyously awaited the appointed hour. About 4:00 the guards came for him. Seeing no possibility of turning the resolute Confessor from the Christian Faith, the judges decided that he was to be put to death. Praying intently, the Saint noticed neither the preparations for his execution nor the great crowd of people that had gathered. At about 5:00 AM on 19 April, 1819, he was beheaded. Christians ransomed the Martyr’s Holy Relics and buried them in the Smyrna Church of St. George the Great Martyr.

In 1844, a portion of New Martyr Agathangelus’ Holy Relics was translated to the Monastery of Esphigmenou on Holy Mount Athos.

Address of our Cathedral

  • 4001 17th St. N.W.,
  • Washington, D.C., 20011

Phone  (202) 726-3000




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