Commemorated on April 14
Sainted Martin the
Confessor, Pope of Rome, was a native of the Tuscany region of Italy. He
received a fine education and entered into the clergy of the Roman Church.
After the death of Pope Theodore I (642-649), presbyter Martin was chosen to
At this time the
peace of the Church was disturbed by the Monothelite heresy, which had become
The endless disputes
of the Monothelites with the Orthodox took place in all levels of the
population. Even the emperor Constans (641-668) and the Constantinople
Patriarch Paul II (641-654) were adherents of the Monothelite heresy. The
emperor Constans published the heretical "Pattern of Faith" (Tupos),
obligatory for all the population. In it was forbidden all further disputes.
"Pattern of Faith" was received at Rome in the year 649. Holy Pope
Martin, a firm supporter of Orthodoxy, convened at Rome the local (Lateran)
Council, which condemned the Monothelite heresy. At the same time Saint Martin
sent a letter to the Constantinople Patriarch Paul with an exhortation to
return to the Orthodox confession. The enraged emperor ordered the military
commander Olympios to bring Saint Martin to trial. But Olympios, being at Rome,
feared the clergy and the people who had descended upon the Council, and he
dispatched a soldier to secretly murder the holy Pope. When the assassin
approached Saint Martin, he was unexpectedly blinded. The terrified Olympios
hastily journeyed to Sicily and was soon killed in battle.
In 654 the emperor
with his former aim sent to Rome another military commander, Theodore, who
accused Saint Martin of the serious charges of being in secret correspondence
with the enemies of the empire – the Saracens, and of blaspheming the Most Holy
Mother of God, and of uncanonically entering upon the papal throne. Despite the
presenting by Roman clergy and laity of proof of full innocence of the holy
Pope, the military commander Theodore with a detachment of soldiers seized hold
of Saint Martin by night and took him to one of the Cycladian islands, –
Naxos, in the Aegean Sea. Saint Martin spent an entire year on this almost
unpopulated island, suffering deprivation and abuse from the guards. Then they
sent the exhausted confessor for trial to Constantinople.
They brought the sick
elder on a stretcher, but the judges callously ordered him to raise himself up
and give answer standing. Again there came an interrogation, and soldiers
propped up the saint weakened by illness. At the trial false-witnesses came forward,
slandering the saint and imputing treasonous relations with the Saracens. The
biased judges did not even bother to hear the defence of the saint. In profound
grief he said: "To the Lord is known, what great kindliness ye would show
me, if quickly ye would deliver me over to death".
After suchlike trial
they brought forth the saint in tattered garb to the jeering of a crowd, which
they forced to shout: "Anathema to Pope Martin!" But those who knew
the holy Pope was suffering innocently, withdrew in tears. Finally the sakellarios
(shield‑bearer), sent by the emperor, approached the military commander
and declared the sentence – to deprive the Pope of his dignity and deliver him
to death by execution. They put the half-naked saint into chains and dragged
him to prison, where they locked him up with thieves. These were more merciful
to the saint than the heretics.
Amidst this the
emperor went to the dying Patriarch of Constantinople Paul and told him about
the trial over Saint Martin. That one turned away from the emperor and said:
"Woe is me! Yet another deed towards my judgement", – and he
besought that the tortures of Saint Martin be stopped. The emperor again sent a
notary and other persons to the saint in prison for continued interrogation.
The saint answered them: "If even they smash me up, I wilt not have
relations with the Constantinople Church while it dwelleth in bad-faith".
The torturers were astonished at the boldness of the confessor and they
commuted his death by execution with exile in the faraway Tauridian
There also the saint
died, exhausted by sickness, want, hunger and deprivations (+ 16 September
655). He was buried outside the city in the Blakhernae church in the name of
the Most Holy Mother of God.
heresy was condemned at the VI OEcumenical Council in the year 680. The relics
of the holy confessor Pope Martin were transferred to Constantinople, and
thence to Rome.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.