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Despite the saint’s straightforward answers, Decius still tried to persuade him to change his mind by offering to make the saint second to the emperor in the kingdom.  St. Mercurius replied, “Your majesty, your gods are the ones that our master King David sang about in the psalms: ‘Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.  They have mouths, but they do not speak.  Eyes they have, but they do not see.  They have ears, but they do not hear; noses they have, but they do not smell… Those who make them are like them, so is everyone who trusts in them.’”  (Psalm 115:4-6,8) 

+ Even still, Decius tried to appeal to the saint to raise incense to the gods by telling him how much he loved him.  St. Mercurius daringly replied, “Being tortured for the name of Christ is a great honor for me.  I have voluntarily taken off all of your perishable honors and dignities.  As a Christian, all I want is to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.  My master and king, I have told you that I will never take your advice.  Save yourself the trouble and do not ask me again.  I am ready not only to suffer, but also to die for His holy name.  Therefore, whatever you want to do to me, do not hesitate.”

The emperor asked about the saint’s origin and background.  St. Mercurius said, “If you want to know about my race and my native land, I will tell you.  My father’s name was Gordianus, a native of Scythia. He served as a commander in the Martusian regiment.  He is a follower of the true God Jesus Christ, my heavenly Father.  Thus, my native city is the heavenly new Jerusalem, the city of the great King, the King of kings.”  The emperor asked the saint about who gave him the name “Mercurius.” The martyr replied, “My father named me Philopatere, but I was called Mercurius by my commander when I joined the army.” 

The emperor gave the great saint one last opportunity to raise incense to the pagan gods.  The great saint replied, “I have come to this place to conquer you and your father, Satan, through whom all evil exists.  And when I conquer, a crown will be placed upon my head by the true Master, my Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, whatever you wish to do to me, do it quickly.  For I am wearing the armor of God, and the shield of faith, by which I will overcome all your schemes and tricks set against me.”

The emperor, filled with fury, ordered soldiers to tie the saint’s body to four stakes, so that he would be stretched and suspended above the ground.  Then Decius ordered the soldiers to strike St. Mercurius with nails instead of scourges.  The great martyr endured these tortures with patience.  Decius mocked the great saint, saying, “Where is your armor that you have spoken about? Where is your courage and great military power?  Where is your God to save you from Decius?”  The saint did not reply to the emperor, but instead looked up to heaven and said, “My Lord Jesus Christ, help me.” 

Decius then ordered the soldiers to tear off the saint’s flesh with sharp blades and light red-hot coals beneath him in order to burn him alive.  The flames were gradually extinguished by the flowing blood of the righteous man.  The great saint endured all these sufferings calmly and bravely by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.  To prevent the great saint from dying quickly, Decius ordered St. Mercurius to be sent to prison again and watched strictly.  The soldiers carried the saint’s half-dead body to the dark prison cell, and there was little breath left in him.  Decius thought the saint would surely die in prison that night.  

An angel of the Lord appeared to him that night, saying, “Grace and peace be yours, O valiant fighter!  Have courage, for God has not forgotten you.  He will support you to overcome the emperor and reveal the truth about his idols.  Do not fear torture, ‘for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’” (2 Cor. 4:17)  The angel healed all of St. Mercurius’ wounds and restored him to health, so that he stood up and praised God, Who had not abandoned him in his time of need.


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