|192 A.D. - Haralambos - The Man They Could Not Kill|
|Written by Dan Curry|
|Friday, 17 August 2007|
192 A.D. - Haralambos Becomes 'The Man They Could Not Kill'
The word Martyr is a Greek word roughly translating as 'witness'. Martyred basically means 'bore witness'. But in Christian vernacular it has come to mean 'died for the Gospel and Jesus'. And some say the toughest martyrdom ever faced was that of Haralambos in 192 A.D.
The man became a priest at an early age, and was known for his zeal. He preached the Gospel in an area of Greece known as Magnesia. This area was named from an early Macedonian tribe called the Magnetes. Both Manganese and Magnesium take their name from the region, and Magnesia is where the word 'magnet' originated, as well. It was first settled in the 11th century B.C., and well settled by the 7th century B.C. And it was largely pagan in Haralambos's time.
As he preached through the years there, a time of persecution arose. Despite being told to cease, he preached on in Jesus's name, spreading the Gospel without fear. Eventually the Governor of Magnesia, a man named Loukianos, took him prisoner for refusing to worship idols as well, and began to torture him, intending that Haralambos should recant and deny Jesus publicly. Though neither the first nor the last torturing of a Christian witness, Haralambos's torture was intense and lengthy, and has stood the test of time to be remembered as one of the worst ever.
At first he was merely tied to a post in the public square to be ridiculed by the pagans. Even this bears the hardship of being physically restrained for long periods in uncomfortable positions, having no recourse to restrooms, and being spit upon or whatever other indignity the passing person should decide to bestow upon you. But he bore up under it, and continued to preach as he was being mocked and humiliated.
He was then, intermittantly and for some unrecorded number of days, struck with sharp edged stick of iron by soldiers, causing him to bleed from many wounds. But he did not die from this, and he did not lose courage, but continued on in his preaching. Some of his time now was spent in jail cells.
People began to come to him, admiring his holiness and courage. Some asked him to pray for them, and Jesus allowed him to perform some great miracles during this time. It is recorded that blindness was cured in some, and lameness in some. This caused the people to take up his cause, and he became very popular with many. Crowds gathered. This was opposite of the desired affect. The Governor became more upset with him.
Loukianos now had him drug through the streets by horses, by a rope tied to his beard. No doubt painful, this did not kill him either. And he did not deny Jesus, despite the agony he must have experienced.
People were now beginning to refer to him as 'the man they cannot kill'. He was the center of growing attention, and so many came and heard the Gospel and received miracles through him. Some said he must be Jesus, now returned. He quickly refuted this idea, saying that he was merely an instrument currently chosen by Jesus to reach their ears with the Gospel.
A Roman Emperor (apparently a 'Servius' or 'Severus') heard of this going on and was angered by it, being a pagan himself. He had Haralambos brought to the city of Antioch to be tortured in his presence in about 192 A.D. Here the tortures took on some other nasty faces: he was led through the streets with a horses bridle in his mouth, and after some time they moved on, and he was nailed to a cross with reportedly over 100 large but non-lethally placed iron spikes driven through his body. Imagine 100 spikes - some of our current youth have a better idea of it than us older folk, right? Still he did not die and did not recant. He was removed from the cross, and for a follow up torture, he was whipped until the skin was basically gone from his back, but still he lived and preached.
It had now been a couple of months of steadily worsening torture. It's hard to imagine what he must have looked like. Jesus Himself must have been maintaining his life at this point. It was finally decided by the Emperor that it was time to behead 'the man they could not kill.' Two soldiers, Porphiros and Babtos, came forward to do the deed. But it was not allowed.
A loud and quite audible voice seemed to those present to come from the sky. It said "Well done, My faithful servant. Enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." At that moment Haralambos's body went limp as he gave up his life, before the stroke of the sword could occur.
The two would-be executioners were awestruck by the voice and what they saw happen. They both knelt publicly, on the spot, and asked Jesus's forgiveness. For this, the Emperor had them beheaded. They are also mentioned in some annals as martyrs, as they too died for the name of the Lord. But not, it must be admitted, so hard a death as Haralambos. It was witnesses of this caliber and level of faith that caused even hardened observers of their hardships and sufferings to wonder at it, and to look into the name of Jesus. Praise the Lord, and a well earned salute to our brother Haralambos.
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 28 April 2013 )|
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