Augustine Sokolovski

On August 20, on the second day of the Feast of the Transfiguration, Churches that follow the Julian calendar honor the memory of the holy martyrs Marinus and Asterius of Caesarea. The Saints suffered for Christ during the reign of the Roman emperor Valerian (253-260). According to the place of their suffering in the administrative and ecclesiastical center of what was then Palestine, Marinus and Asterius are called martyrs in Caesarea. Information about the saints was preserved in the Church History of Eusebius, in the translation of this work into Latin, as well as in brief notes to the ancient menologions.

According to Eusebius of Caesarea, for "the Churches at that time there was peace everywhere." This means that no systematic and centralized persecution of Christians has taken place at the moment. However, as this part took place in the very first centuries of the history of Christianity, believers in Christ were the subject of mob persecution, became victims of slander and denunciations.

Marinus, whose name means "marine" in Latin, was a Roman officer. As in the case of Pontius Pilate, where the word "Pilate" meant "a man with a spear", such a name could be a designation of rank or character. Marinus professed Christianity, "was well-born and rich." He was to be elected to the vacant seat of the centurion, a sign of which, according to Eusebius, was the presentation of a vine branch. So, this insignia of distinction from a historical circumstance became a sign of destiny (cf. John 15:8).

At the moment of accepting of the insignia, a person from the crowd stated that Marin could not be awarded this title, because he neglected traditional values. “He is a Christian and does not offer sacrifices to emperors,” the accusation sounded. The informer himself claimed his place.

In the course of the ensuing proceedings, the judge made sure that the accusation was just. Marin did not renounce, publicly confirmed that he was a Christian. The judge gave him three hours to think. The three hours became the image of the three-day resurrection.

This process was witnessed by the Bishop of Caesarea Theoteknos. He approached Marinus as he was leaving the courthouse and, taking him by the hand, led him to a place where Christians gathered together for the Eucharistic service. The bishop "threw back the hem of Marin's cloak and pointed to the sword hanging on the side." At the same time, "he gave him the divine gospel and offered to choose what he liked", the unarmedness of God or a new high military rank.

Surprisingly, Theoteknos's gesture was not only a virtual repetition of what had already happened during the preliminary proceedings in court, but also preceded, moreover, accelerated the judicial decision. Without waiting for the end of the three hours given by the secular Roman authorities to choose between a military career and confession, the Church invited Marinus to indicate his choice in advance. The saint stretched out his hand for the Gospel and thus preferred his own death.

According to the Scriptures, Jesus was to be resurrected after three days and three nights. Without waiting for the appointed time, He resurrected on the very first day of the week, that is, immediately after the Sabbath, when, according to the Law of God, inaction was required. Even in this Sabbath rest of the righteous, Jesus did not deviate from the commands of God. For he did not come to destroy, but to fulfill the Law (cf. Matt. 5:17).

Three hours for reflection, which, according to the pagan irony of the accusation, Saint Marin received for reflection, reflected in human proportion this sacred action of the resurrection. With the dramatic difference that the ratio between three days and three hours formed not only a kind of proportion of human and divine measures, but also represented a multidirectional movement. Christ, crucified on the Cross, and laid in the tomb, hastened to rise again. Saint Marinus took the Divine Scripture and hurried to die. According to Eusebius: "He was immediately taken, in what he was, to death and executed."

Saint Asterius, whose memory is celebrated with Marinus, was a Roman senator. He witnessed the death of the martyr and, moved by the power of a grace-filled decision, “heaved the body of the martyr on his back” and honored him with the prescribed burial. Asterius was very famous. Dressed in "sparkling expensive clothes" he carried the bloodied relics of the saint. Like Joseph of Arimathea in the Gospel, he "clothed Marinus in an expensive veil" and honored him with a reverent burial.

The fact is that Asterius was a Christian. According to Eusebius, once before that he witnessed a sacrifice. On the banks of the Jordan, the pagans threw a domestic animal into the water, and the deity who lived in this once sacred biblical river allegedly made him invisible. Asterius witnessed this madness and drew the attention of the crowd to the fact that the corpse of an animal remained in the river, one had only to look at it. It was an unheard-of bold gesture. After all, Asterius, according to Eusebius, not only revealed the deceit, but also publicly called on the name of Christ. However, his high position and impeccable reputation among the people saved him from reprisal. Now, after the burial of Marina, such a moment has come.

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He returns,” says Paul (1 Corinthians 11:26). In ancient liturgies, these words of the Apostle were repeated true at the moment of prayerful contact with the Body and Blood of the Lord. Like the Eucharist, at the sight of which the Christian was called to the proclamation of Christ's death, and the confession of His resurrection, the death and resurrection of Jesus were immediately presented to the eyes of early Christians when they saw the books of the Gospel. The texts of Scripture were treasured and carefully concealed.

“The honor he rendered to the martyr is immediately accepted by the martyr himself,” is written in the ancient Latin translation of the History of Eusebius. Stretching out his hand to the Gospel, Saint Marinus indicated his choice of suffering for the faith. He took upon himself the body of Christ, embodied in the gospel words, in order to partake of Him in martyrdom for the redemptive Cause of the Word. Following him, Saint Asterius took upon himself the body of the martyr, shared his glorious position with him in his defeat, and was glorified for confessing Christ.