Comments to: David Woods
Last Updated: May 1999

The Passion of St. Menas of Cotyaeum (BHO 746)

(Translation from E.A.W. Budge (1909), 44-58)

The Martyrdom of Mînâs, the Saint, and Warrior, and Martyr of our Lord Jesus Christ. May his prayer be with us ! Amen.

This holy man and martyr, the blessed Mînâs, belonged to a district of Egypt, the name whereof was Ktw, which was called after the name of a certain governor, who built therin a tower and made strong the walls thereof. The name of the father of Saint Mînâs was 'Awdeksis (Eudoxius) and the name of his mother was 'Awfomya (Euphemia); they were Christians, and the people loved Eudoxius. And his brother (Anatolius) rose up against him, and made false accusations against him to Abrayos the king, and the king appointed him to Abrakiya. Now he was exceedingly rich. [p. 45] And he carried his possessions and his wife from Alexandria to Abrakiya, and his was angry with his wife, for they had no child.

On one occasion when his wife went to church on the Festival of Our Lady Mary, the Mother of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, the Word of the Father (to whom be praise for ever and ever, Amen !), and saw the people bringing in their children to be blessed by our Lady, the Holy Virgin, she wept bitter tears and prayed, and nade supplication and entreaty, [for a child, and] she heard a voice from Our Lady which said, "Amen." Then she conceived and brought forth a son, and she called him "Mînâs"; now she took this name from [the word] "Amn". And his father rejoiced, and set free the malefactors from the prison, and he gave much alms to the poor.

And when the child grew up he taught him whatsoever was necessary, and the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures; and [the boy] trained himself in fasting and in prayer. And when he was eleven years old his father died, and three years later his mother died also; and he sorrowed exceedingly because he was alone and because he was an orphan, and he gave all his goods to the poor, and withdrew to the church where he toiled in fasting and prayer.

And the governor who was appointed over Afrakaya after his father, loved Mînâs exceedingly, and he took him by guile and made him a soldier; now at that time he was fifteen years of age, and he made him his deputy.

And in the second year of the Gaius Valerius [the emperors] called upon all people to worship the polluted gods, and their edict was exceedingly evil. And they wrote letters, and sent them into every country and province under their rule, and they came even to the borders of Kwatilam [p. 46] and to the cities of Africa. And at that time there ruled in that country Arkorikos and Abdadikon and Melyanos, and the officers of the military service, and with them was Mînâs, the blessed man and true martyr of our Lord Jesus Christ, and he shone in their midst like a star. And the governors made haste to perform the command which was written in the Edict, which spoke thus: "Rejoice, O all ye people, for we have decreed honours for the gods, [as is] right, and we ourselves desire greatly that whatsoever is decreed for them shall be performed with due reverence and with the zeal which is befitting. For this reason we have written unto every governor of every city, and unto every general of every army, and unto all men, and even unto women and children, that they may perform the service which is meet for the gods with all due care and reverence. And we decree, by our honour, that every one who shall set himself in opposition to our Imperial Edict shall at all times be punished and flogged without mercy."

And straightway the heralds proclaimed in every city, to men and women alike, that they must undertake to worship the gods, and to return to their service. And because of this Edict, a great commotion took place, and [the governors] compelled the people to promise that they would carry out the orders of the wicked Emperors.

And when Saint Mînâs also perceived this, he departed to the desert, and he lived there and worked like a peasant. And he said, "I have sen sin and corruption in the city, and I have left it and fled away therefrom. I will abide in the desert, and I shall see my God and Redeemer Jesus Christ." And he dwelt there for many days in great privation, and he toiled hard. And after a time the grace of God alighted upon him, and he saw heaven open, [p. 47] and the interior thereof was filled with angels of light who were carrying crowns of light, and laying them upon the heads of those who had consummated their martyrdom. And the angels were making them to ascend into heaven with great splendour, and they were shining like the sun. And Saint Mînâs longed to become a martyr for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And as he was meditating upon this matter, a voice from heaven cried out and said unto him, "Blessed art thou, Mînâs, for thou hast been called, and the fair beauty of thy mind hath made itself manifest from thy youth until this day. And thou shalt receive crowns incorruptible, like [those of] the Holy Trinity, O thou who art the firstborn of their love: one for thy virginity, and one for thy patient endurance, and one for thy martrydom. And thy martyrdom shall be greater than the martyrdoms of a multitude of martyrs, and thy name shal be honoured, and nultitudes of people shall come from every part of the world, and shall take refuge in thy church which shall be built in the land of Egypt, and works of power shall be manifest, and wonderful things, and signs, and healings shall take place through thy holy body."

And when Saint Mînâs heard this he rejoiced. And he rose up straightway and came into the city, whilst the unbelievers were gathered together in the place of festival, and being lifted up in the Spirit he began to sing a psalm whilst the governors were seated there with all the people, and he said, "I have come to those who have sought me, and I am found by those who make enquiry for me." And they held their peace, for they were amazed, and they marvelled at his striving when they saw him in the garb of the Christians.

And the governor said unto him, "Who art thou ?" And he said, "I am Mînâs, a holy man, the servant of my Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the universe.

[p. 48] And the governor said unto him, "Art thou a stranger, O my son, that thou hast dared to come hither in this guise, and to prevent the people from performing their service by thy words." And there were there some who recognized him., and they said to the governor, "We know this man. He is a soldier from [the troops of Awtidikon.

. And the governor said unto him, "Art thou a soldier ?" And Mînâs said uno him, "Why didst thou leave military service ? Was it because thou wast an alien or a Christian ?" And the governor commanded them to put him in prison. And on the following day they brought him forth with the people into the marketplace, and the unbelieving governor said unto him, "How is it that thou darest to come into the marketplace to be punished like a slave, , and to put to shame the emperors by saying, "i am a Christian" ? Now tell me. Why did thou forsake military service ? Where hast thou been living during these [last] days ? And whence hast thou come ?"

And Mînâs said unto him, "I am a man of the land of Egypt, and because I wished to become a soldier of the heavenly king I forsook the fleeting soldiery of this world." And the governor said unto him, "Where hast thou been until this day ?" And Saint Mînâs said unto him, "Through love for Christ I chose to dwell with the lions in the desrt, rather than to become corrupted with those who know not God, for it is written, "Let not my soul be corrupted with sinners, nor my life with the men of blood, in whose hand there is violence."

[p. 49] And the governor said unto him, "Sacrifice now to the gods, and forsake thine error, for thou art a soldier who hast forsaken thy service and hast called thyself a Christian. Have pity on thy life, O man, and draw nigh and offer sacrifice to the gods, and return to thy duty, and draw nigh and oreserve thyself from torture."

And the saint said unto him, "I wish to please the King of Kings, and to receive from him and to wear deathless crowns. Imagine not that thou canst make me to return through terror of thee, for I hold in contempt thy tortures (or, punishments), because I burn with desire to follow the example of my Lord Jesus Christ." And the governor said, "Carry him away, and bind him tightly with cords hands and feet, and flog him with an ox-hide whip." And he said unto him, "Since thou art a soldier return to thy duty to the Emperor." And the blessed Mînâs said, "It is better for me to remain a soldier, and to return to the service of the Emperor Christ, Who is the Great King." And straightway they flogged him with a sever flogging, until the ground was soaked with his blood, and he sank down upon the earth. And the governor said unto him, "Sacrifice to the gods, O man, before any more of thy flesh be flogged off thee by the whip."

And Mînâs said unto him, "O evil counsellor, I will not return [to the service of the Emnperor] through thy cruel torturings. Continue them, therefore, for God is my Helper, and he is able to provide healing for the wounds which thou inflictest."

And the governor, in the stupidity of his heart, said, "Flog him again, and hang him up upon a tree, and scape his flesh off his body with scrapers." And whilst they were doing this the governor said unto him, "Art thou frightened by this torture, O Mînâs ? Or art thou well acquainted with [p. 50] floggings of this kind ?" And the saint said unto him, "Dost thou imagine that thou wilt be able to destroy my determination by this torture ? I am a soldier of Christ, and He will help me to be strong."

And the governor said, "Torture him again." And he said unto him, "If thou hast another king show nme thy king." And Mînâs said unto him, "O man of folly, wouldst thou blspheme the king of heaven ?" And the governor said unto him, "Who is the king of who thou sayest I cannot know him ?" And the blessed Mînâs said, "He is Jesus, the Son of God, the Living One, the First, the Creator of All."

And the governor said unto him, "Knowest thou not that the Emperors are wroth about Christ, and that they have ordered to be tortured every one who shall mention Christ ? Why then dost thou confess His name ?" And Mînâs said unto him, "Even though they be wroth with me I will continue to confess him for ever, and I want to escape from this vain world. For it is written, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ, ? Shall sorrow, or tribulation, or affliction, or nakedness ?" I know there is nothing which is able to kill Christ."

And the governor said unto him, "Behold, thou hast prepared thyself for torture, and thou shalt therefore be tortured in the flesh." And Mînâs said unto him, "In truth thy tortures cannot make me submissive, for in me is Jesus Christ, Who will help me at all times, for He helpeth those who fear Him in every matter, as long as it be for their benefit."

And the governor said, "Bring ye to me lighted torches which burn brightly, so that I may be able to overcome therewith the stupidity of his heart, and may bring to nothing his strength." And when they placed the burning torches on his flesh (or, body), and they rested on his bosom and burned his flesh, he perceived them not. And the governor said unto him, "O Mînâs dost thou not feel [ p. 51] the fire ?" And Saint Mînâs said unto him, "My Lord Jesus Christ Himself maketh me strong, for it is written, "When thou fallest into the fire it shall not burn thee." And Holy Scripture saith, "Ye shall not fear those who kill your bodies, but who are not able to kill your souls. Fear, however, Him that is able to destroy the soul and the body in the Gehenna of fire."

And the governor said unto him, "Being a soldier, how is it that thou knowest this scripture ?" And the blessed Mînâs said, "Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "When they take you before kings and governors, consider not what ye shall say, for it shall be given unto you forthwith what ye shall speak.""

And the governor said unto him, "Did thy Christ know that thou wast about to suffer in this manner ?" And Saint Mînâs said unto him, "Christ is God in very truth, and He knoweth what is about to come to pass before it happeneth."

And the governor said unto him, "Cease now from this [talk]: offer sacrifice to the gods, and depart to thy appointed work, and follow thy duty as a soldier." And the saint, the martyr of Christ, said unto him, "I am a soldier of the Heavenly King, as I have told thee before; do this that thou wishest. Thy tortures are in my flesh, but my soul and understanding worship my God, the Heavenly King."

And the governor said unto him, "Dost thou wish me to have patience with thee for two or three days so that thou mayest ponder thy decision, and desist from this folly which hath come upon thee ?" And Mînâs said unto him, "I have known my decision for many days: I cannot deny the God of heaven and earth. Consider thou that three days have passed since I came here and confessed that I was a Christian; I will never sacrifice to the gods, and, moreover, I will never obey thee."

[p. 52]And the governor was wroth, and he commanded them to bring sharp iron stakes and drive them into the ground. And they tied ropes to the neck (or, body) and hair of Saint Mînâs, and dragged him over the iron stakes. And Saint Mînâs endured this [torture] with patience and the governor was not able to prevent him from confessing Jesus Christ. And he said unto the governor, "To make thee to relieve me from tortures even more cruel than these which thou art inflicting upon me I would not deny the Lord God, my God. I will not over sacrifice to devils, and I will not perform the will of thy father Satan."

and the governor said unto those whom he had commanded to torture him, "Throw him on the ground, and tie a stone to his neck, and flog him because he called the gods "devils"." And whilst they were flogging him the governor said unto him, "Beat him on the sides of his head, , for i perceive that he can wihstand the torture." And as for Mînâs, whilst they were flogging him he held his peace, and uttered no word.

And one of those who were sitting there, whose name was Habta-dahaya (Heliodorus), said unto the governor, "Dost thou not know that the race of Christians never turns backward, and that when they are tortured they bear the tortures patiently, for death is better to them than life ? Pass the sentence of death then upon him, and weary thyself no longer with torturing him."

And the governor said unto him, "O Mînâs, sacrifice to the gods, and I will bestow honours upon thee." And Saint Mînâs said unto him, "Let thine honour be to the men of destruction. [p. 53]. As for me, I am about to receive the honour which awaiteth me, and to be reckoned among the soldiers of Him that made me His own. As it is written, "Your reward is great in heaven." For the honour which is thine [to give] is a phantom, and before God it is nothingness; but faith in God, and the honouring of His Name, and thanksgiving to his Majesty, shall make us heirs of the light of holiness and of life everlasting."

And when the governor saw the strength of the faith of the martyr he commanded them to kill him, and he passed on him sentence saying, "We commanded this soldier Mînâs, a deserter who would not return to [the service of] the Emperor, and who would not sacrifice to the gods, to be punished; he shall now suffer the punishment of death. And because he would not obey, and worship the gods, we further command that they throw his body into the fire."

And straightway they took the blessed martyr Mînâs to the place of execution, and all of the men of the city followed after him to see the martyrdom of the blessedMînâs, who marched to death rejoicing, with his face shining with light. And he was in the garb of the Christians, and he spake words of confidence to those who knew him, and the apparel which was on him sang (?), and no temptation came upon him. Nay, he placed his confidence in God, and made supplication to him, and he made haste to the doom which had been decreed concerning him, and he cried out upon Christ Who had made him ready for these beautiful things.

And Saint Mînâs turned his face towards the heavens, and stretched his holy hands upwards, and, confessing his grace, said, "I give thanks unto Thee, O God of heaven, Jesus Christ, because thou hast neither forsaken me, nor removed thyself far from me, so that the enemy might destroy me, and because thou hast given me the power not to deny Thy Holy Name. And now keep Thou me in this hour, and [p. 54] grant me strength to endure to my end. And take Thou my soul unto Thyself, O my God Jesus Christ, and I will bow down to Thee always." And having said these words, he came to the place of martyrdom, and he stretched out his neck quickly, and [the headsman] smote it with a sword, and his head rolled away from his body. And the guards carried away his holy body and cast it into the fire, and departed.

And there were certain fellow soldiers of Saint Mînâs who were believers; now they were exceedingly many in number, and they put out the fire, and took his body and his head, and placed them in a shroud made of costly linen and perfumed with many sweet scents. And they carried them into the house of one of their number, and placed them in a coffin with great joy, and they praised God who had given him the power to endure. Now there was no trace of fire on his body. Thus was consummated his martydom on the fifteenth day of the month Khadar (i.e. November 11). And he departed to our Redeemer Jesus Christ, Who is the King in truth, to Whom be praise, and honour, and might, for ever and ever. Amen.

This holy and blessed Mînâs, the precious martyr, was perfect in his strength, and in stature, and in faith, and in sweetness of disposition, from his youth up; and in his later years he was gentle, and merciful, and a lover of the poor and the stranger.

And after his martyrdom was consummated, as we have already said, a host of soldiers came to fight against the five cities, and the country was disturbed, with the borders thereof. And there came forth an order for a troop of soldiers to proceed from Phrygia, to fight against the men of Mareotis.

And Atnasis (Athanasius) the governor wished to take the [p. 55]body of Saint Mînâs with him that it might be unto him a helper and a deliverer. And having opened the door [of the place] wherin his body was, there shone upon him a great light. And having hidden the body from the men so that they might not prevent him, he carried it away, and took it up into a ship, and departed.

And when they arrived in the sea which is between Africa and Alexandria, there appeared unto them in the water certain terrible beasts. Now they were the most terrifying; their necks were long and thick, and their faces were like unto the faces of camels. And they stretched out their necks towards the ship so that they might snatch out from it those who were therein. And arrows of fire went forth from the body of Saint Mînâs into their faces, and they fled and hid themselves in the sea. And they came back, and the arrows of fire again prevented them [from seizing the men]; and after this they bowed low before the Saint and departed. And all those who were in the ship marvelled, and they believed in God, and they glorified Mînâs the martyr, and gave thanks unto him because they had been saved through his body.

And after five days they came to the city of Alexandria, and they went forth from that place and took the body of Saint Mînâs the martyr with them. And they went up in the ship from Alexandria to the shore of the sea of Mareotis, where they fought a battle; and they made supplication to Saint Mînâs, and to his body, and he conquered the mighty men of war, and slew them through his entreaty, until they came to Mesten on the border of Mareotis.

And when the governor wished to return to Phrygia he wanted to carry the body [of the saint] with him. And he placed it upon a camel, but the camel was unable to move with it, and he placed it on another camel, and the camel was unable to rise up; in this manner he placed it upon all the camels that were with him, and there was not one which [p. 56] was able to carry it away. And 'Atnasis (Athanasius) the governor was sorry, but he knew that this matter was from God, and he left the body there.

And he made a picture of saint Mînâs the martyr on a wooden tablet, dressed as he had known him in the apparel of a soldier, with pictures of the beasts [of the sea] which resembled camels, at his feet, and they were worshipping him. And he laid that picture upon the body of saint Mînâs, to obtain his prayers, and then he took it with him that it might be unto him a means of deliverance and a place of refuge on the sea and in war. And he made for his body a coffer of wood, shag which neither becometh worm-eaten nor rotten, and he buried it in that place, and returned to his own country with his soldiers.,P> Now God desired to make manifest this wonder and power through the body of Saint Mînâs. And the lame son of a certain man of that country went and saw a lamp casting a light upon the place of the grave of Saint Mînâs the martyr, and he drew nigh thereto and threw himself down on the ground. Now there were certain strangers standing [there]. And the father of the youth was looking for his son, and when he found him there he beat him; and the youth leaped up and ran away in front of them, and his foot was healed, and the people who were there marvelled. Then the youth told them what he had seen, and God opened their eyes, and they saw the lamp burning, and they believed. And all the people who were suffering from divers diseases went forth to the grave of Abba Mînâs, and they were healed by the power of God, and by the petition of Saint Mînâs, and there was great joy there, and the fame of him was noised abroad beyond Mareotis. And all those who were there, both those who were sick and those who were possessed of devils, went to that place, and they were healed and recovered.

[p. 57] Then they built above his grave a church, which was like unto a tent, and they hung up in it a lamp similar to that which they had seen [over the grave], and at that time it burned both by day and by night, and it was fed with scented oil. And if any man took of the oil of that lamp, and carried it away to a distance, and anointed a sick person therewith, that sick person was healed forthwith of the disease from which he had been suffering.

And a church was built in that place in the name of the saint in the days of Saint Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, by the help of Taos, the God-loving king, so that the people might gather together to him, and celebrate festivals therein. And when it was finished, Saint ... the Archbishop gathered together Bishops and priests, and they placed the body of Mînâs the martyr in it, and they consecrated it in the days of the holy Emperor Theodosius and Abba Theophilus the Archbishop. aNd there was built there a great church to the name of Mary, for the [use of the] multitudes of people who gathered together to the Church of Saint Mînâs.

And the Emperor Zeno visited it during his reign, and he built houses there, and he commanded the soldiers to build their barracks there, and a fortress. And, moreover, the nobles of the country of Egypt built their palaces there, and they came thither at all times because of the multitude of signs which appeared there in the days of Timothy, the Archbishop. And at length a mighty city, with beautiful buildings, was completed there, and Zeno the emperor called it ...; and an exceedingly large number of people dwelt there. And the righteous Emperor commanded that one hundred and twenty-three thousand fighting-men should guard it against foreign tribes; and they guarded both the church and the people who came thereto. And the Emperor commanded that their food should be provided by the people of Mareotis. And he commanded that those who came to the church should contribute a fixed sum for the maintenance [p. 58] thereof, and that they should carry thereto the sick folk every year.

And it remained thus until the days of Herkaldes (Heraclius) the Emperor of Rome, through whom the Muhammadans obtained power in the land of Egypt, and the people continued to go to the church of the saint and martyr from all parts of the country, and he made manifest unto them signs and wonders. And they brought unto him votive offerings, and he performed their wishes, and they came back rejoicing, and they were glad because of what he had done for them. And the fame of his signs, and works, and power, and of his prayer to God reached unto the borders of [all] countries. May he beseech God, our God and Redeemer Jesus Christ, to preserve us, and all the sons of baptism, through the prayers of Our Holy Lady, Mary the Virgin, and of all the saints and martyrs.

Here endeth the martyrdom of the holy Martyr Mînâs.
May God keep us through his prayers for ever. Amen.

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