Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 8 - Aedesius of Alexandria, Martyr, Enemy of the State, Outspoken

Aedesius and his brother Aphian had converted to Christianity because it had gripped their hearts when they weren't expecting it. Though they had received an extensive education they found greater wisdom in the stories that the Christians told then they did in all of the books of philosophy they had studied.For their conversion--and the zeal with which they preached their new found faith--they suffered. Eventually, Aphian was wrapped in cloth that had been soaked in oil and set on fire because he refused to deny or silence his faith. Aedesius lived on as a witness to the martyrdom of his brother. But the flames that consumed his brother were nothing compared to the flames of faith and hope that consumed Aedesius's heart. He could not quiet himself even though he knew well what his preaching would eventually cost him: his life. He had been touched and healed by the Risen Lord and he could not stop talking about the conversion that was going on in his life. A judge finally arrested him, had him beaten, and sent to Palestine to work in a copper mine for several years as punishment. The Roman hope was that hard labor would break his zeal and teach him to go along to get along.

He was released after a series of back-breaking years working in the copper mines. He left Palestine and traveled to Alexandria, Egypt, to find and live a new life. He had known persecution in his home and he had watched his brother die at the hands of those who opposed them--now, he eagerly sought out escape and rest from both his physical and spiritual labors. But when he arrived in Alexandria he discovered that his preaching and protesting days were not over. The governor had devised an evil scheme to break Christian women and Christian families with sexual abuse. When he discovered a woman who had proclaimed her faith or had committed herself to holy virginity and chastity, he had them arrested and sent to a brothel in Alexandria.There, they would be raped and forced to work as prostitutes. They were victimized and abused and the Roman hope was that they would abandon their faith when faced with the incredible trauma that Rome was willing to inflict upon those who opposed it. Aedesius was rightly sickened by this and proceeded directly to the home of the governor to protest it.

His education and rhetorical skills gained him entrance to the governor's dwelling but what he had to say when he got there gained him a brutal beating and heavy chains. He was tortured for daring to protest the governor's barbaric cruelties. For speaking up for women who were being raped and victimized he was caused to suffer. Though he was given opportunities to recant his protests and renounce his faith, he remained steadfast in his convictions. Eventually, after he had been tortured for some time a stone was tied around his neck and he was dropped into the sea to drown. He became a martyr because he refused to be silent as others suffered. In dying, he joined his brother Aphian in making an indelible statement about the power of faith and the brokenness of this world.

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