ST. NARSES, BISHOP, AND COMPANIONS, MM.
IN the fourth year of the great persecution raised
by Sapor II., were apprehended Narses, bishop of Schiahareadat, (the
capital of Beth-Germa, a province in the heart of Persia,) and
Joseph, his disciple, while the king happened to be in that city.
When they were brought before him he said to Narses: “Your
venerable gray hairs, and the comeliness and bloom of your pupil’s
youth, strongly incline me in your favor. Consult your own safety and
advantage; receive the sacred rites of the sun, and I will confer on
you most ample rewards and honors; for I am exceedingly taken with
your persons.” The blessed Narses answered: “Your
flattery is very disagreeable to us, because ensnaring, and tending
to draw us over to a treacherous world. Even you who enjoy whatever
the world can give, and who promise it to others, will find it
fleeting from you like a dream, and falling away like the morning
dew. As for my part, I am now above four score years old, and have
served God from my infancy. I pray him again and again, that I may be
preserved from so grievous an evil, and may never betray the fidelity
which I owe him by adoring the sun, the work of his hands.” The
king angrily said: “If you obey not without more ado, you shall
this instant be led to execution.” Narses replied: “If
you had power, O king, to put us to death seven times over, we should
never yield to your desire.” The king then pronounced sentence,
and the martyrs were immediately put into the hands of the
executioners. The king was there in a manzal or chan,
that is, a resting-place on his journey. The martyrs were led out of
the tents, and followed by an incredible multitude of people. At the
place of execution Narses cast his eyes round about him on the crowd,
and Joseph said to him: “See how the people gaze at you. They
are waiting that you dismiss them and go to your own home.” The
bishop embracing him replied: “You are most happy, my blessed
Joseph who have broken the snares of the world, and have entered with
joy, the narrow path of the kingdom of heaven.” Joseph
presented his head first to the executioner, which was struck off.
They suffered on the 10th day of the moon of November, in 343.
In the same acts, the martyrdom of several others
about the same time as recorded. John, bishop of Beth-Seleucia, was
put to death in the castle of Beth-Hascita, by order of Ardascirus
prince of Persia, probably a son of Sapor. Isaac, priest of the town
Hulsar, was stoned to death without the walls of Beth-Seleucia, by
the command of the president of Adargusnasaphus. Papa, priest of
Herminum, was put to death in the castle of Gabal. by prince
Ardascirus, when he was viceroy of Hadiabus. Uhanam, a young
clergyman, was stoned to death by certain apostate gentlewomen of
Beth-Seleucia, by order of the same prince. Guhsciatazades, a eunuch
in the palace of Ardascirus, refused to sacrifice to the sun;
whereupon that prince commanded Vartranes, an apostate priest who had
shrunk a his trial and renounced his faith, to kill him with his own
hand. The wretch advanced; but at first sight of the holy martyr
trembled, and stopped short, not daring for a considerable time to
give a thrust. The martyr said to him: “Do you who are a priest
come to kill me? I certainly mistake when I call you a priest.
Accomplish your design, but remember the apostacy and end of Judas.”
At last the impious Vartranes made a trembling push, and stabbed the
holy eunuch. The martyrs whose names follow, were of the laity:
Sasannes, Mares, Timus, and Zaron, sealed their faith with their
blood in the province of the Huzites. Bahutha, a most noble lady of
Beth-Seleucia, was put to death for the same by order of the
president. Tecla and Danacla, virgins of the same city, suffered
death soon after her, under the same judge. Tatona, Mama, Mazachia,
and Anne, virgins and citizens of Beth-Seleucia, suffered martyrdom
without the walls of the city of Burcatha. The virgins Abiatha,
Hathes, and Mamlacha, of the province of Beth-Germa, were massacred
by order of king Sapor, when he made a progress through that country.
See their genuine Chaldaic acts published by Steph. Assemani, Act.
Mart. Orient. t. 1, p. 97.