Who is Martyr Babylas?
During his reign as emperor (284-305), Maximian renewed persecution against Christians. Saint Babylas was denounced as someone who was instructing children in Christian piety, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “fidelity to natural obligations (as to parents) and dutifulness in religion.” When Babylas was brought before the emperor, he confessed faith in the true God and then was pelted with stones, put in irons, and taken to prison.
Saint Babylas had 84 disciples; all of whom were brought before the emperor. The disciples rejected various enticements to renounce their Christian convictions. Two of them, Ammonias and Donatus, firmly declared, “We are Christians, and we will not offer sacrifice to deaf and dumb devils.”
The emperor flew into a rage over the unexpected and firm rebuke from the children. He had them whipped, and later beheaded, together with their teacher St. Babylas. On the way to execution, the holy Martyr Babylas quoted Isaiah, “Behold, I and the children which God has given me.” (Isaiah 8:18) With spiritual rejoicing, first Saint Babylas, and then his 84 disciples, received the crown of martyrdom.
According to John Chrysostom, “for an ordinary man there would be no noble deeds after death. But of a martyr, many and great deeds, not in order that he might become more illustrious (for he has no need of glory from the multitude), but that thou, the unbeliever mayest learn that the death of the martyrs is not death, but the beginning of a better life, and the prelude of a more spiritual conversation, and a change from the worse to the better.” Quote from On the Holy Martyr, S. Babylas by John Chrysostom, located at https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_the_Holy_Martir,_S._Babylas.
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