Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Demon That Was Subject to Saint Abercius

Saint Abercius was the Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180). During a pagan celebration one day, Abercius shut himself in his house and prayed with tears for the people who worshiped lifeless and dumb idols. As he prayed, the Lord appeared to him and instructed him to go and topple the altars of the idols. After doing as he was instructed in the middle of the night, when morning came the angry pagans went to the house of the Saint in order to kill him. Instead of fleeing, Abercius went to the marketplace and publicly proclaimed the truth of the Christian faith over pagan superstition. To give evidence to his words, he healed three demon possessed men. When the people saw his words confirmed by the power of grace bestowed upon him, they listened to him, received the Christian faith, and about five hundred people were baptized Christians.

With the fame of Abercius spreading throughout the region, many came to him seeking a cure of their various ailments. His renown reached all the way to Rome, where Marcus Aurelius himself invited him to the palace in order to heal his betrothed daughter who was tormented by a demon. When he arrived in Rome, Abercius was immediately taken to the imperial palace, where Empress Faustina awaited him. She brought him to her daughter, who convulsed violently when she saw the Saint. The demon begged the Saint to torment it no longer and allow it to return to Hierapolis from whence it came. Abercius allowed this, but only as long as it took with it a massive stone used for idolatrous rites in Rome. And indeed it did as commanded, while the crowd was amazed to see the stone rise to the sky away from Rome, clearly showing to all the power that Christians can have over demons. Later, this stone was placed over the tomb of Abercius in Hierapolis, as a trophy of victory. Saint Abercius reposed at the age of seventy-two in 167 A.D. He is celebrated by the Church on October 22nd.