« Guntramnus, king of Burgundy Habibus, deacon, martyr at Edessa Hadrianus, Publius Aelius, emperor »

Habibus, deacon, martyr at Edessa

Habibus (2) (Abibus), deacon, martyr at Edessa in the reign of Licinius; mentioned in the Basilian Menologium, Nov. 15, with the martyrs Gurias and Samonas, in whose tomb he was laid; at Dec. 2 he has a separate notice. Simeon Metaphrastes in his lengthened account of those two martyrs (the Lat. in Surius, de Prob. Hist. SS. Nov. 15, p. 342, the Lat. and Gk. in Patr. Gk. cxvi. 141) similarly embodies the history of Habib. Assemani notices him in his Bibl. Orient. (i. 330, 331) from Metaphrastes, but not in his Acta Martyrum. The original Syriac account of Habib which Metaphrastes abridged has been discovered, and was ed. in 1864 by Dr. Wright with a trans. by Dr. Cureton (Ancient Syriac Documents, p. 72, notes p. 187). The Syrian author, whose name was Theophilus, professes to have been an eyewitness of the martyrdom (which he places on Sept. 2) and a convert. The ancient Syrian Martyrology, another discovery trans. by Dr. Wright (Journ. Sac. Lit. 1866, p. 429), likewise commemorates Habib on Sept. 2. Theophilus says that in the month Ab (i.e. Aug.) in the year 620 of the kingdom of Alexander of Macedon, in the consulate of Licinius and Constantine, in the days of Conon, bp. of Edessa, the emperor commanded the altars of the gods to be everywhere repaired, sacrifices and libations offered and incense burnt to Jupiter. Habib, a deacon of the village of Telzeha, went privately among the churches and villages encouraging the Christians not to comply. The Christians were more numerous than their persecutors, and word reached Edessa that even Constantine "in Gaul and Spain" had become Christian and did not sacrifice. Habib's proceedings were reported to Licinius, who sentenced him to die by fire. When this news reached Edessa, Habib was some 50 miles off at Zeugma, secretly encouraging the Christians there, and his family and friends at Telzeha were arrested. Hereupon, Habib went to Edessa and presented himself privately to Theotecnus, the head of the governor's household. This official desired to save Habib and pressed him to depart secretly, assuring him that his friends would soon be released. Habib, believing that cowardice would endanger his eternal salvation, persisted in surrender, and was led before the governor. On refusing to sacrifice, he was imprisoned, tortured, and then burned, after he had at great length uncompromisingly exposed the sin and folly of idolatry. The day of his imprisonment was the emperor's festival, and on the 2nd of Ilul (Sept.) he suffered. His dying prayer was, "O king Christ, for Thine is this world and Thine is the world to come, behold and see that while I might have been able to flee from these afflictions I did not flee, in order that I might not fall into the hands of Thy justice. Let therefore this fire in which I am to be burned be for a recompense before Thee, so that I may be delivered from that fire which is not quenched; and receive Thou my spirit into Thy presence through the Spirit of Thy Godhead, O glorious Son of the adorable Father."

The year is given by Baronius, who had only Metaphrastes to guide him, as a.d. 316 (A. E. ann. 316, xlviii.). Assemani (Bibl. Or. i. 331) with the same materials decides for 323. The details of Theophilus might seem to settle the 434point; but if his era is that of the Seleucidae, Ilul 2, 620 was Sept. 2, 309, and Licinius only became master of the East in 313. The date therefore is still a difficulty.

[C.H.]

« Guntramnus, king of Burgundy Habibus, deacon, martyr at Edessa Hadrianus, Publius Aelius, emperor »





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