Martin the Confessor
Saint Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome, was a valiant defender of the Roman Church who suffered greatly in order to preserve the divinity of Christ against the Monothelite heresy during the 7th century. He was the last Pope of Rome to be martyred. He is widely venerated in the East on April 14 (November 12 in the West).
Life of the Saint
Born in Tuscany, Saint Martin was educated with Church doctrine and joined the clergy of the Roman Church. After Pope Theodore I's death in 649, the saint was chosen to succeed him.
During his papacy, the Monothelete heresy began to question Church doctrine. The heretics were able to find adherents in high levels of society, such as Emperor Constans (641 – 668) and Patriarch Paul of Constantinople (641 – 654). Emperor Constans even published a book entitled "Pattern of Faith" that all people were forced to read. The book supported the heresy. When St. Martin read the book, he staunchly supported Orthodoxy and even convened the Lateran Council at Rome in order to condemn the Monothelite heresy.
When the emperor learned this, he sent a military commander to kill the pope. Since the commander was too scared to assassin the pope himself, he hired someone to perform the deed. The hired assassin became blinded upon approaching St. Martin and was unable to kill him. The military commander fled from Rome in fear and soon died in battle.
The emperor continued his pursuit to eliminate the saint by hiring another military commander to accuse him of heresy. Unable to dethrone the pope on these claims, the commander resorted to capturing St. Martin at night and bringing him to the island of Naxos in the Aegean Sea in the year 654. During the course of a year on this small, scarcely populated island, St. Martin was starved and abused by prison guards.
The saint was brought to trial, weak and ill from the abuses he endured in prison, and stood against false witnesses who claimed he was treasonous to another group of peoples. The judge condemned the saint without hearing his defense. Unable to bare the tortures anymore, the saint said, "The Lord knows what a great kindness you would show me if you would deliver me quickly over to death." Many believed the false witnesses and jeered him as he was brought to prison, while those who believed the saint were not able to bear seeing him so humiliated and fled in tears. The saint was to be deposed from his rank and executed.
When Emperor Constans reported this to Patriarch Paul, the patriarch realized the faults of his ways and ordered for the torments to stop. St. Martin boldly declined the patriarch's request, not wanting to adhere to the Church of Constantinople since it was still under heretical doctrine. His death sentence to exile was carried out at Cherson in the Crimea. Saint Martin died due to hunger and sickness on September 16, 655.
Martin the Confessor
|Pope of Rome
St. Eugene I