Saint of the Day – 21 December – Saint Anastasius II of Antioch (Died 609) Bishop and Martyr, Confessor, Defender of the Faith – also known as Anastasius the Younger. Anatasius II succeeded St Anastasius [the first] and was the Bishop of Antioch from 599 until his death by martyrdom in 609. He is known for his opposition and suppression of simony in his Diocese, with the support of St Pope Gregory the Great. He also supported the Emperor Phocas in Phocas’ efforts against the Monophysites.
In 609 the Syrian Jews revolted as they believed that they were being forcibly converted to Christianity by Emperor Phocas (reign 602-610). It was during these riots that Bishop Anastasius was abducted due to his support of Phocas. He was mutilated and then dragged through the streets, after which he was burnt to death in the marketplace of Antioch.
Emperor Phocas retaliated via military action which, in turn, led to a reverse persecution of the Jews of the area, when many were killed or exiled.
St Anastasius I and our Saint today, Anastasius II, are both venerated on the Colonnade of St Peter’s Square.