Today, April 24, Monday of the second week after Easter, Orthodox Churches that follow the Julian calendar celebrate the memory of St. Antipas of Pergamon. The saint was a disciple of John the Theologian and bishop of Pergamon.
He suffered for Christ during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian (81-96) in Pergamon. The ruins of this ancient city, one of the economic centers of that time, are in the west of Asia Minor, about 30 kilometers from the Aegean Sea.
According to the vita, Antipas was locked alive in a red-hot bronze bull. The calf was a symbol of admiration for wealth and a sign of paganism (cf. Ex. 32:1) in the Bible and in many nations. The pagans of Pergamum used bullocks in exorcism rituals. The saint suffered for Christ at a very advanced age. His veneration in the Ancient Church, both in the East and in the West, was very important.
In the deeds of her martyrs, the Church honored not suffering as such, but readiness, by the power of grace, to be faithful to the faith of Christ even unto death. Thus, to be a witness to its truth. According to the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews: "The covenant comes into force with death" (Heb. 9:16). Faith of Christ" is not only faith in Christ, but, above all, "Faith of Christ" - as the Gift belonging to Him alone, which He gives to the Church and to those who are joined to it in Baptism through the word (cf. James 1,18). The faith of Christ is the New Testament between man and God.
Antipas is the only saint whom the Lord Himself calls by name in the New Testament. In the Epistle to the Church of Pergamon in the Apocalypse, Jesus says: “Where Satan lives, My witness Antipas was slain” (Apocalypse 2:13). "Where Satan lives..." Notably, the Pagans of Pergamum used bullocks in exorcism rituals to exorcise evil spirits!
In the book of Revelation, the Lord not only mentions Antipas with praise, but also calls him a “witness,” that is, literally, a martyr. Thus, He likens the saint to Himself, points to the special kinship and brotherhood that exists between Him and the saints. Indeed, in another place of the Apocalypse, the Lord Himself is called a "martyr" - a faithful and true witness (3:14).
The ancient Church did not know a formal process for the canonization of saints. Christians celebrated the liturgy on the tombs of the martyrs, and the Сreed of the Holy Apostles at the same time, and, most importantly, in the form of enumeration, proclaimed faith in the Communion of the Saints, the Church and the Holy Spirit.
The words of the Lord about Antipas in the Apocalypse are evidence of the true canonization of the saint in Scripture itself. For God Himself glorifies His Saints by the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus.