Our Holy Father Martin I, Pope of Rome, and of the Holy Bishops of the West who suffered with him for the True Faith

Saint Martin the Confessor

April 13

This pillar of Orthodoxy lived in the time of the Emperor Constans II Pogonatus (641-68). Barely three months after Saint Martin had been raised to the episcopal throne in 649, a council of a hundred and five bishops was convened in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. This council condemned the Monothelite heresy and the Typos, published by the Emperor, in which truth and error were confused through political opportunism. Saint Martin, having been Pope Theodore’s apocrisiarius in Constantinople, was well informed of the intentions of the Emperor and his theologians, who, in proclaiming one single will in Christ, were deviously seeking to bring the Monophysites of the East back into alliance.

As soon as he heard the news, the Emperor sent the Exarch Calliopas to Italy to arrest the Pope. On his arrival in Rome, Calliopas appeared before the pontiff and examined him about the council. Saint Martin replied by pronouncing the anathema against those who accused him of the slightest variation in the faith of the Holy Fathers. Fearing the people who were present, the Exarch replied hypocritically that Martin’s faith was similar to his own and to that of all Christians. The Saint then withdrew for three days into the Lateran Basilica with all his clergy. On the Monday morning, Calliopas demanded to search the palace, under the pretext of finding weapons. The soldiers rushed into the church, turbulently threw down the sacred vessels and furnishings and seized hold of the prelate, who was suffering from gout. On Tuesday 19 June 653, they set sail for Constantinople. During this long and difficult voyage, that lasted three months, the Saint was deprived of all comfort in his sickness and was not even able to wash himself. At the ports, his guards refused to let him leave the ship and, wounding him all over, confiscated the provisions which clergy and faithful had brought him. When they arrived in Constantinople on 17 September, they left him on his pallet, open to the insults of the people, and then took him to the Prandearia prison, where he was secretly held for ninety-three days. On 20 December, after a parody of a trial in the Hippodrome during which he was not allowed to speak about the Faith, he was condemned to death. They then publicly tore his sacerdotal vestments and dragged him through the city to the Praetorium with a heavy chain round his neck. The sick and under-nourished old man was scarcely able to walk, but his face was radiant to be thus suffering for the love of Christ and the truth. Transferred to the Diomedes prison, he was dragged up, as they flayed his legs, to a cell high in the wall that was reserved for those condemned to death.

The next day, Paul II, Patriarch of Constantinople (641-53), a sick man in fear of the Judgement of God, obtained from the Emperor the commuting of the sentence of death to that of exile. After Paul’s death, when Pyrrhus became Patriarch, the Saint remained in captivity a further eighty-five days before being sent secretly to Cherson in the Crimea. There, he suffered cruelly from hunger and the ill-treatment that the barbarians inflicted on him, and gave his apostolic soul into God’s hands on 16 September 656.

Source: The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church. Volume Four, March & April. Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady, Ormylia (Chalkidike), 2003.