Saint of the Day – 22 May – St Basiliscus of Pontus (Died c 310) Martyr, Bishop of Comana in Pontus, Asia Minor (in modern Turkey) Died by beheading in c 310 in Comana, Pontus (in modern Turkey). Also known as – Basiliscus of Pontus, Basilicus, Basilisco.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “At Comana, in Pontus, under the Emperor Maximian and the Governor Agrippa, the holy Martyr Basiliscus, who was forced to wear iron shoes, pierced with heated nails and endured many other trials. Being at last decapitated and thrown into a river, he obtained the glory of Martyrdom.”
In our earliest sources Basiliscus is said to have announced in a vision at Comana, to the dying St John Chrysostom, the latter’s immediate entry into Heaven and to lead him home and to have identified himself as a Bishop of Comana, Martyred at Nicomedia under Maximian at about the same time as St Lucian of Antioch (who is reported by Eusebius to have been Martyred in 312 under Maximinus Daia).
In the seventh- or eighth-century Vitas of St John Chrysostom ascribed to George of Alexandria Basiliscus, makes the same appearance but identifies himself as a military Martyr. In this latter construction, he has a legendary Greek-language Passio, making him a Martyr at Comana under Maximian. In this version, Basiliscus was brought to a pagan temple to perform ritual sacrifice, which resulted, both in the temple’s being set afire by lightning and in the destruction of its idols, after which he was executed on this day, by decapitation and his body was thrown into the river Iris. Christians secretly retrieved the Saint’s remains and buried them in a freshly plowed field, where later a Martyrion or Shrine, was built in his honour. Thus far Basiliscus’ own Passio.
A related account under today’s date in a Byzantine menologion (the Greek version of the Martyrology) specifies, that he had been tortured by being forced to wear iron shoes studded with red-hot nails.
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