Feast of Saint Artemius (Mar Shallita)

Icon of Saint Artemius the Martyr

Shalita, who is also known as Artemius, was born in the fourth century. He achieved high rank in the Roman army and was eventually given responsibility for the Roman troops stationed in Egypt. He remained a faithful Christian despite the danger of losing his position and even his life. He was summoned before the emperor in Antioch for having destroyed the temples and idols of the pagan gods. It is said that his body was taken to Constantinople by Arista, who was a deacon of the Church in Antioch. 

Cardinal Baronius inserted the name of St. Artemius in the Roman Martyrology, following the example of the Eastern church which had venerated him in spite of the fact that he was a supporter of the Arians. 

Artemius healing shrine was a great center of devotion at Constantinople. The Greek life printed in the Acta Sanctorum, which is based ultimately upon the Arian chronicler Philostorgius, states that the emperor Constantius II commissioned Artemius to convey the relics of St. Andrew the Apostle and St. Luke the Evangelist, from Achaia to Constantinople. Artemius accomplished his task and was rewarded with the appointment to the rank of dux Aegypti (360).

One year later Constantius was succeeded by his cousin Julian, who was a Pagan. The people of Alexandria accused Artemius of several atrocities, and Julian condemned him to death. Artemius was beheaded in 363 in the city of Antioch, where he had been recalled by Emperor Julian the Apostate for maladministration of his province. The charges stemmed from his persecution of pagans in Alexandria, and his use of troops in the seizure and despoliation of the Temple of Serapis instigated by George of Cappadocia. 

May the faithful prayers of Saint Shalita enlighten us. Amen. His feast day is October 20th.

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