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E02522: The Martyrdom of *Pansophios (martyr in Alexandria, S01231), preserved only in Georgian, recounts the martyrdom, miracles and death of Pansophios during the Decian persecutions. Translated in or before the 8th c. from a lost Greek original.

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posted on 08.03.2017, 00:00 authored by naleksidze
Martyrdom of Pansophios of Alexandria

Summary:

§ 1. Pansophios, son of Nilos, was a nobleman in Alexandria. He was brought up as a good Christian, and was well educated in Christian writing. When his father died, Pansophios too, abandoned the world, distributed all his wealth among the poor, and retreated into the desert.

§ 2. In those days, Emperor Decius dispatched his prefect Augustalius to Alexandria, with a mission to oversee the persecution of local Christians. Pansophios' Christianity was soon reported to Augustalios, and the saint was brought into his presence.

§ 3. After the initial exchange of words, Pansophios was severely beaten so that his back was torn to pieces.

§§ 4-8. After this, however, Augustalios and Pansophios engaged in a lengthy dialogue over the divinity of Zeus. Pansophios narrated the Christian account of Creation, exposing the advantages of the latter as opposed to paganism. Pansophios also recounted the story of how the pagan gods came to being, and how the first golden idols were erected after the Flood by a certain king whose soon had died and whose image he carved in gold. This king, according to Pansophios, had then created other statues in honour of his deceased children. One was called Zeus and the other Artemis. The story of the Exodus followed, with yet another error of idolatry that overcame the people. Christ's arrival, according to Pansophios, signalled the end of idolatry, however some people still remained in this error.

§ 9. A certain scribe called Likinios was struck by Pansophios' eloquence, and was immediately converted to Christianity, which he openly confessed in the prefect's presence. The two were then thrown together in prison.

§ 10. In prison, at Likinios' request, Pansophios delivered a homily on the 'blessed ones'.

§ 11. Pansophios delivered a homily on Resurrection and on punishment. While the two holy men were conversing, the wall of the cell suddenly split, and a monstrous creature entered, attacking the two. The creature seized Likinios, and cried out that it was here to avenge the gods that Likinios had condemned, and that it too was one of them, sent from above. However, Likinios was strengthened through Pansophios' prayer and instruction. He forcefully grasped the devil's horns, and the devil immediately backed off, begging Pansophios to release him, promising that he would never bother them anymore. However, the devil also said that now he would pacify the judge's heart, and that Pansophios and Likinios would never receive the martyr's crowns, and their bones would never become relics of martyrs.

§ 12. Pansophios and Likinios prayed to the Lord and miraculously, just as the devil had said, the evil intention left the judge's heart. The captives were brought to the judge's presence, who kindly asked the two that should they wish to stay in his presence, they were most welcome, but if they preferred to leave, they were free to go wherever they wished.

§ 13. The devil was still present, having settled in the heart of someone there, who was duly writing down everything that the prefect was saying, so that the prefect's words would become a law, and the saints would never attain martyrdom. Pansophios noticed him, and addressed the devil, saying that even if they were not martyred in blood, they would still work tirelessly for bloodless martyrdom. Pansophios decided to withdraw into a local desert where he established himself, and gained a multitude of disciples.

§ 14. Pansophios and Likinios engage in pious dialogues, where Pansophios delivers a homily on fasting.

§§ 15-16. The Christian community under the leadership of Pansophios thrived in a cave in the desert. However, the devil returned to the prefect's heart, and the latter was not able to tolerate this anymore, and ordered his men to first burn Pansophios' village and then the cave where the holy men lived. The only person who avoided death in the cave was Likinios, as he was absent at that very moment.

და წარვიდა იგი ქალაქად და აუწყა ესე მორწმუნეთა ვიეთმე. და მათ წარმოიხუნეს ნაწილნი იგი წმიდათა მათ ქრისტეს მოწამეთანი: და დასხნეს ადგილსა წმიდასა გალობითა და ქებითა საკურნებელად სულთა და ჴორცთა მათთა. რომელ მიერითგან ურიცხუნი სნეულნი განიკურნებიან და ეშმაკნი იდევნებიან: ხოლო ნეტარმან ლიკინიოზ შეწევნითა და მეოხებითა წმიდათა მათ მოწამეთაჲთა აღასრულა სათნოდ ღვთისა მანცა მოქალაქეობაჲ თჳსი.

'So [Likinios] went to the city, and announced to the faithful the news. They took the holy relics of Christ's martyrs, and deposited them on a holy lace with chants and praises for the sake of healing of their souls and bodies. Since then, numerous sick were healed, and devils were expelled. Holy Likinios, through the aid and intercession of the holy martyrs, completed his earthly mission as it pleased God.'

Text: Kekelidze 1918. Summary and translation: Nikoloz Aleksidze.

History

Evidence ID

E02522

Saint Name

Pansophios, martyr of Alexandria : S01231

Saint Name in Source

პანსოფი

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Georgian

Evidence not before

250

Evidence not after

900

Activity not before

250

Activity not after

800

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Mar Saba Monastery

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Mar Saba Monastery Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult Activities - Miracles

Healing diseases and disabilities Exorcism Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures Miracle after death Miracle during lifetime Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Pagans Aristocrats Crowds

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified

Source

The Georgian Martyrdom is the only surviving narrative related to Pansophios, martyr in Alexandria. Although the story is relatively brief, the text as a whole is lengthy, mostly due to the homilies delivered by Pansophios on various pious matters, e.g. fasting, Resurrection, 'on the blessed ones', and so on. These homilies are mostly Pansophios' elaborate replies to either judges' questions, where he criticises paganism, or are embedded in his dialogues with Likinios, his faithful associate.

Discussion

Pansophios is yet another victim of the Decian persecutions of 250. Although the name of Pansophios of Alexandria is widely known, and his feast is celebrated on 15 January, the Georgian Martyrdom is the only witness to Pansophios' life. His Life is not attested either in the Greek or Oriental hagiographic corpus. A brief version of Pansophios' Martyrdom is preserved in the Synaxary, however there it is said that Pansophios had been killed through beating immediately after being interrogated by the prefect of Alexandria. The Georgian Martyrdom is much more elaborate, and mostly concentrates on the devil's attempt to prevent Pansophios' martyrdom. The Georgian version of the Great Synaxary seems to be equally unaware of the long version of Pansophios' martyrdom.

Bibliography

Edition: K. Kekelidze, Monumenta Hagiographica Georgica, pars prima, Keimena Tom. I (Tiflis, 1918), 48-59.

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