Saint of the Day – 21 January – St Anastasius the Persian (Died 628) Martyr, Monk. Born in Persia as Magundat and died by strangulation and beheading in 628 in Persia. Patronages – against headaches, of goldsmiths.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “At Rome, at Aquiae, Salviae, St Anastasius, a Persian Monk, who, after suffering much at Caesarea in Palestine, from imprisonment, stripes and fetters, had to bear many afflictions from Chosroes, King of Persia, who caused him to be beheaded. He had sent before him, to Martyrdom, seventy of his companions, who were precipitated into rivers. His head was brought to Rome, together with his venerable likeness, by the sight of which, the demons are expelled and diseases cured, as is attested by the Acts of the Second Council of Nicacea.”
Anastasius was born in the City of Ray. He was the son of a Magian named Bau. He had a brother whose name is unknown. He was a cavalryman in the army of Khosrow II (590–628) and participated in the capture of the True Cross in Jerusalem which was carried to the Sasanian capital.
The occasion prompted him to ask for information about the Christian religion. He then experienced a conversion of faith, left the army, became a Christian and then a Monk at the Monastery of Saint Savvas (Mar Saba) in Jerusalem.
Anastasius was baptised by St Modestus, the Bishop of Jerusalem, receiving the Christian name Anastasius to honour the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (anástasis” in Greek meaning resurrection).
After seven years of the monastic observance, he was moved by the Holy Ghost to go in quest of Martyrdom and went to Caesarea, then subject to the Sasanians. There he interrupted and ridiculed the pagan priests for their religion and was, as a result, arrested by the local governor, taken prisoner, cruelly tortured to make him deny Christ and finally carried down near the Euphrates river, where his tortures was continued, while at the same time, the highest honours in the service of King Khosrow II, as a Magi, were promised him, if he would renounce Christianity.
Finally, after refusing to renounce Christ, with seventy others, he was strangled to death and decapitated on 22 January 628. His body, which was thrown to the dogs but was left untouched by them, was carried from there to Palestine, then to Constantinople and finally, to Rome, where the relics were venerated at the Tre Fontane Abbey.
A Passio written in Greek, was devoted to the Saint. An adapted Latin translation, possibly by Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury, was available to the Anglo-Saxon Historian, the Venerable St Bede, who criticised the result and took it upon himself to improve it. There are sadly, no surviving manuscripts of St Bede’s revision, although one copy did survive to the 15th Century.