Thursday, March 31, 2022

Saint Hypatios of Gangra and the Dragon

During the reign of Emperor Constantius II, son of Saint Constantine the Great, when he ruled over the entire Roman Empire after 353 AD, a dragon took up its habitation in the imperial treasury. Because of this, no one dared enter the chamber, and therefore the treasury became inaccessible, for the great serpent lay its head right next to the door. Those who dared enter were immediately slain by the fierce serpent.

Not knowing what to do, Emperor Constantius called for Bishop Hypatios of Gangra, who was known widely for his miraculous powers. Despite the danger, Saint Hypatios went to Constantinople to show the emperor the power of God.

When the Saint arrived and was warned of the dangers of the mission by the emperor, the Saint prayed on his knees for a considerable amount of time outside of the treasury. He then got up and instructed the emperor to have a great fire built in the midst of the marketplace, where the Column of Constantine was located. The Saint then approached the treasury door, opened it, and with his staff made the sign of the cross over the door. The dragon then appeared, causing terror to the emperor and those standing with him, and the Saint struck it with his staff. After this, the Saint raised his hands in prayer, then took his staff again and thrust it into the mouth of the dragon, saying: "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, O beast, follow me."

The bishop then drove the fierce serpent outside of the imperial treasury and led it to the marketplace. The sight terrified the people, for it was said that the dragon was sixty cubits (around ninety feet) in length. As the Saint and the serpent approached the Column with the fire prepared next to it, the Saint said to it: "In the name of Jesus Christ whom I, the least among men, do proclaim, I command you to enter into the midst of the flames." The dread serpent then bowed obediently, and slithered towards the roaring fire, and entering into it, it was utterly burnt.

Upon beholding this astonishing demonstration of the power of God, the people glorified God and the emperor held him in high esteem and honor. As a result, the emperor had an icon of the Saint made and placed it over the treasury door to protect it from all evil, meanwhile the Saint returned to Gangra. Constantius also abolished the annual taxes of the people of Gangra, which was burdensome for the poor inhabitants of the Saints diocese.