Martin the Confessor

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Our father among the saints 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 seventh century. He was the last Pope of Rome to be martyred. He is venerated in the East on April 13 (GOARCH) or April 14 (OCA) (November 12 in the West).


Born in Tuscany, St. Martin was educated with Church doctrine and joined the clergy of the Church of Rome. As a priest Fr. Martin represented the See of Rome in Constantinople. After the death of Pope Theodore I in 649, Martin was chosen to succeed him. He appointed John, bishop of Philadelphia (Amman) to be Administrator of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem after the death of Patriarch Sophronius, who had died in 638. Martin, as Pope, justified this appointment "by the apostolic power which came to him from Jesus Christ through St. Peter."

During his papacy, the Monothelite heresy began to question Church doctrine. The heresy advanced the teaching that Christ had two natures but one will, contrary to the Orthodox position that he had two wills - human and divine. 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 assassinate 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.


Troparion (Tone 3) [1]

You strengthened the Church with true doctrine,
Wise hierarch Martin.
You declared the two natures of Christ,
Putting heresy to shame.
Entreat the Lord to grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion (Tone 8)

High Priest and teacher of the mysteries,
You poured forth streams of doctrine.
You expounded the true doctrine of the two natures and wills of Christ.
Intercede for those who cry: "Rejoice, blessed Father Martin."


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Succession box:
Martin the Confessor
Preceded by:
Theodore I
Pope of Rome
Succeeded by:
St. Eugene I
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