The Saint-Martyr Constantine Hagarit, +1821 (2/15 June)
Saint Constantine was born into a poor Turkish Muslim family. We do not know what his Muslim name was. The Saint was brought up with his brother and sister without a father, and when he grew older he began working in the Anatolian port city of Smyrna as a peddler of greens in the marketplace.
In the course of his work Constantine frequently visited the residence of the Metropolitan of Smyrna where he met Christians and began unintentionally to learn about the Orthodox Faith. It was through his visits to the metropolitan's house that Constantine formed friendships with Christians and started to learn Greek.
In the midst of this Constantine heard something from the Gospel that impacted him tremendously and prompted him to turn to Christ and seek Holy Baptism. The Smyrnaean Christians, however, did not dare to baptize him since they were forbidden to proselytize by law and would have been killed together with Constantine if it had been discovered that they helped a Muslim convert to Christianity. Because of this the Smyrnaeans sent Constantine to Mt. Athos to be baptized by the monks there. On the Holy Mountain the Saint visited four monasteries seeking to be baptized and was refused Holy Baptism by all of them. He was on the verge of despair when the abbot of the Iviron monastery, Gregory V, agreed to baptize him personally. It was during his chrismation that the Turkish Saint was given the name Constantine .
For some time after his baptism Constantine lived on Mt. Athos under the spiritual supervision of the elder Gabriel in the Kausokalivit Monastery. Having lived under the direction of the elder, Constantine sought and received the blessing of the Athonite elders to proclaim the Gospel to his sister in Magnesia (in western Anatolia). This was not to be, for on his way to Magnesia Constantine was arrested and brought before a Turkish judge, before whom he confirmed his renunciation of Islam and declared his faith in Christ. The Saint was consequently beaten and imprisoned while the judge waited for the arrival of the Pasha of Machsonisia.
Although upon his arrival the pasha promised Constantine wealth and honor if he would return to Islam, the Saint refused his offers and reaffirmed his confession of Christ and his commitment to the Christian Faith.
Constantine was tortured for his refusal and sent to a professional torturer. Despite the incredible suffering he endured Constantine remained faithful to Christ and, seeing this, the pasha sent him to Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) to be sentenced.
In Constantinople the Saint went through a period of penal servitude before being tortured and imprisoned yet again. While Constantine was in prison a priest visited him and, seeing his young age, told him that he could arrange his ransom by the Constantinopolitan Christians.
Constantine , ready to die for his Lord, refused the priest's offer, telling him that the Theotokos herself had told him of his imminent martyrdom. The next day Constantine was sentenced to hanging because of his conversion to Christianity. The Saint-Martyr was hung on 2/15 June 1819.
(Based on the book of Yurij Maximov "Svjatye Pravoslavnoj Tcerkvi, obrativshiesja iz islama". Moscow, 2002)
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