St. Philopatere Mercurius
St. Mercurius was born to pagan parents in the year 225 A.D. in Rome. He was named Philopatere (a Greek name meaning “lover of the Father”). His father, Gordianus, was miraculously saved from death by an angel of the Lord, and he and his wife soon converted to Christianity. They preached, gave alms, and raised their son according to Christian teachings.
+ By the age of 17, St. Mercurius had already joined the Roman army and gained a reputation as a great swordsman and tactician. He was promoted to the rank of commander and given the name “Mercurius,” after the planet Mercury, which was supposed to signify good luck and glory.
+ During that time, the emperor Decius issued a decree that everyone in the empire must raise incense and sacrifice to the pagan gods or else suffer severe torture. The emperor declared that if any Christians were discovered, they would be subjected to this punishment.
+ Soon after this decree, Decius ordered his army to fight against the barbarians, and St. Mercurius was sent to battle. One day, at the peak of battle, the saint had a vision of man surrounded by light, who said, “O Mercurius, servant of Jesus Christ, fear not, nor be downcast, for I have been sent to help you and lead you to victory. Take this sword from my hand by which you will achieve victory, and when you overcome your enemies, remember the Lord, your God.” When St. Mercurius took the sword from the angel, he felt the Holy Spirit overwhelm him, and he fought with great bravery. He conquered the barbarians and their king, and the rest fled in terror. For this reason, the great saint is called “of the two swords” (Abu-Saifain); one sword is the military sword, and the other is the sword of divine power.
+ When Decius heard of St. Mercurius’ bravery, he made him supreme commander over the entire Roman army, at the young age of twenty-five. One night, the angel again appeared to the saint and reminded him to remember the Lord, saying, “I am the angel of the Lord who met you in the battlefield and gave you the victorious sword with which you have conquered the enemy and asked you to remember the Lord your God after victory. Now, I tell you, do not be afraid or troubled by the emperor’s decree; God has sent me to tell you that you shall suffer greatly for His name and you shall receive a crown of victory in Heaven. I will strengthen you until you fulfill your testimony. Your patience and good fight of faith will be heard of in every quarter and God’s name will be glorified in you.”
+ After the angel of the Lord left, the great saint was moved by God’s care and encouragement. He remembered the words and teachings of his father regarding the faith, and began to confess his weaknesses to the Lord: “Woe to me, sinful as I am and like a fruitless tree. I have nothing to count upon except God’s mercy. Look upon me, my God and my Lord. Strengthen me and preserve me in Your holy name until the last breath of my life.” St. Mercurius longed with his whole heart to be in God’s presence and be one of the heavenly King’s soldiers. He spent the entire night in prayer and spiritual ecstasy.
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