Saint Great-martyr Mercurius of Caesarea, in Cappadocia
Commemorated on November 24 and November 25
When Emperor Decius once waged war against the barbarians, there was in his army the commander of an Armenian regiment called the Martenesians. This commander was named Mercurius. In battle, an angel of the Lord appeared to Mercurius, placed a sword in his hand, and assured him of victory over his enemies. Indeed, Mercurius displayed wonderful courage, mowing down the enemy like grass. Following this glorious victory Emperor Decius made him chief commander of his army, but envious men reported Mercurius to the emperor for being a Christian, a fact which he did not hide but openly acknowledged before the emperor. Mercurius was tortured harshly and at length; he was cut into strips with knives and burned with fire. An angel of God appeared to him in prison and healed him. Finally, the emperor proclaimed that General Mercurius be beheaded in Cappadocia. When they beheaded him, his body became as white as snow and emitted a most wonderful incense-like fragrance. His miracle-working relics healed many of the sick. This most wonderful soldier of Christ suffered for the Faith sometime between the years 251 and 259 and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of his King and God.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date November 24, and New Calendar date December 7.
The Vision of St. Basil the Great, and Julian the Apostate
On that mountain was a Church of the Most-Holy Theotokos, where all the Christians, when they reached it, began with contrite heart to entreat the merciful Christ and His Most-Pure Mother, not to permit the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) to return from his war against the Persians and resume his oppression of Christians.
Then as they were continuing in prayer, St. Basil saw a multitude of heavenly armies circle the mountain and among them was a woman sitting on a throne with much glory, who said to the Angels that were around:
“Call Mercurius to me, that he go and put to death the enemy, Julian, of my Son!”
Then the Archbishop of Caesarea saw that the Martyr Mercurius came armed with his weapon, and having received the command from that woman who was the Most-Holy Theotokos, he disappeared immediately!
[At this very moment Julian the Apostate, on his Persian campaign, was wounded by the spear of an unknown soldier, who immediately disappeared. The mortally wounded Julian, as he lay dying, cried out, “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!” (http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=103383)%5D
The Saint awoke from the vision right away and together with some Clerics he descended immediately to the city of Caesarea, where the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Mercurius was located, in which was found his relic and his weapons, as St. Mercurius was martyred there a hundred years before. Archbishop Basil entered this Church and not seeing the relic or the weapons, he asked the protector of the relics of the Church what occurred. He of course did not know anything. Then the Great Basil understood that it was a true vision and that the most impious Julian would be killed that night.
Immediately, the Holy Metropolitan again ascended the mountain and told the Christians:
“Rejoice and be glad today, my bretheren. Our prayer was heard, because the infamous king suffers the appropriate punishment. Therefore giving thanks to God, let’s return to the city…”
The Most Holy Theotokos, through the prayers of Saint Basil, had sent Saint Mercurius to defend the Christians from the apostate Julian. May we also be preserved from God’s foes, overcoming them through the prayers and assistance of Saint Mercurius.
Apolytikion of Great Martyr Mercurius
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.