Saint Anatolius

SAINT ANATOLIUS

A fourth-century martyr (feast day: 9 Tubah). He is one of the personages of the cycle referred to in different texts in relationship with the more famous Theodore Anatolius. The most important part of his martyrdom is recorded in one incomplete codex (Balestri and Hyvernat, 1908); two fragments from Leipzig consist of the beginning and some other passages (Leipoldt, 1906, p. 388). The complete text may be reconstructed from the abstract of the Copto-Arabic SYNAXARION, probably derived through a different redaction.

According to the Synaxarion, Anatolius was a general of Persian origin under DIOCLETIAN. When the persecutions began he confessed his faith. Diocletian tried in vain to have him persuaded away from his faith by the general Romanus.

From here the Coptic text continues. The scene is set in Antioch. Anatolius, having been tortured because of his opposition to the apostasy of Diocletian, is praying. Jesus appears to him, cures, and comforts him. As Anatolius leaves to go to the emperor, he stumbles over the corpse of a dead man in the square and raises him. The crowd acclaims him, and the emperor is informed. He charges Anatolius with and tortures him by fire. Because the martyr endures the tormenting without visible suffering, 800 people are converted to Christianity.

Anatolius’ head is peeled and bathed in vinegar, but the martyr does not suffer; he prays, and the archangel MICHAEL cures him. He is placed in a hole and burned, but preserves his body from fire. The emperor gives orders to have him beaten, but the soldiers in charge of this task become blind. Invoking the Christian God, he saves the soldiers, causing their conversion and their martyrdom.

Anatolius is taken before beasts to be martyred, but a lion speaks, praising Anatolius and assailing the emperor. Other spectators in the crowd adopt the Christian faith. Anatolius cures the emperor, who once again is found in the devil’s hands.

The text is interrupted when the general (another famous character of the Cycle) advises the emperor to jail Anatolius indefinitely. This is one of the latest texts of the Cycle, at least in the preserved version. For this reason the typical features of the epic Passions (see HAGIOGRAPHY) are particularly unpolished and exaggerated.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Balestri, I., and H. Hyvernat, eds. Acta Martyrum, 2 vols. CSCO 43,44. Paris, 1908.
  • Leipoldt, J. “Verzeichnis der koptischen Handschriften.” Katalog der Handschriften der Universitätsbiliothek zu Leipzig, Vol. 2, ed. C. Vollers. Leipzig, 1906.