Monk Martyr Damascene of the Lavra

Saint Damascene was a monk from Constantinople. His parents Kyriakos and Kyriake lived in the Galatea district of the city, and they named their son Diamantes.

Orphaned at a young age, and without parental guidance, the boy became rather undisciplined in his conduct. One day he was caught doing something unlawful, and in order to save himself he agreed to convert to Islam. Later he came to his senses and repented his denial of Christ. Fleeing to the Holy Mountain, he became a monk at the Lavra, receiving the name Damascene.

For twelve years he labored in prayer and asceticism, and was tonsured into the Great Schema. Finally, he revealed to his spiritual Father his desire for martyrdom. Receiving a blessing for this struggle, he cut his hair and dressed as a sailor.

In the church of Hagia Sophia, which had been turned into a mosque, the monk Damascene made the Sign of the Cross and proclaimed Christ as the true God. Since the Moslems did nothing to him, he went to the Sultan Mehmed mosque and repeated his confession of faith, calling the Moslems ignorant and deceived because they did not believe in Christ. Those who heard him thought he was insane.

The next day St Damascene went to the vizier’s courtyard and shouted at those he found there, “Your faith is not true. Christ is the true God, and only the faith of Christ is true.” Not surprisingly, he was seized and beaten, then chased away. He continued to proclaim Christ in other places, but everyone thought he was crazy, and they ignored him.

On a Sunday, the holy martyr went to the Tophana mosque, where many Moslems had gathered. Again he was seized and beaten. This time, however, he was sent to the kadi and then to the Grand Vizier, Kara Mustapha. Seeing that the saint would not change his mind and live as a Moslem, the Vizier sentenced him to death.

On November 13, 1681, St Damascene was led to the Phanar, where he was forced to kneel before the gates of the Patriarchate. Thanking God for allowing him to fulfill the exploit of martyrdom, he bent his neck and was beheaded. The relics of the holy New Martyr Damascene were taken to Chalki and enshrined in the church of the Holy Trinity.