Saint Barlaam of Antioch


Saint Barlaam lived in Turkey and was arrested as a Christian publicly professing his faith during the Diocletian persecutions of the early Church. He was brought to the judge and told to recant his faith or face the same torture he had witnessed happen to other Christians. When he refused, he was jailed and the terrible tortures began. In the malicious attempt to force Saint Barlaam to sacrifice to the pagan gods, he covered Saint Barlaam's hands in incense and had his hands held over the burning coals of a brazier. His intention was to make Saint Barlaam flinch from the pain, causing the incense to fall into the fire and make the crowd believe they witnessed a sacrifice being made. The plan would be then to immediately release him as use his story as propaganda against the Christians in the town.


Saint Barlaam though, refused to flinch and held his hands steady as they caught fire. When his hands had completely burned through, the judge in anger had him immediately executed. Saint Basil the great would write of Saint Barlaam:


"He had a right hand more powerful than fire; although the coal burned his hand, his hand still held the fire as if it were ash"

Saint John Chrysostom said:


"The angels looked from their heights. The archangels beheld. The scene was majestic in truth transcending human nature. Behold who would not wish to see a man who made such an ascetic endeavor, yet did not feel that which is characteristic of men to feel ; a man who was himself both the altar of oblation and the sacrifice and the priest?"
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