Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sts. Martyrs from Axiopolis in Scythia Minor, the soldiers Cyril, Kindeas and Dasius (26 April)

An inscription discovered in 1947 by the archaeologist Ion Barnea in the Romanian town Cernavodă brought back in the attention of the historians and theologians about three of the many martyrs in Scytia Minor during the Roman Persecution. The text of the inscription, today in the National Museum of History from Bucharest, written in Greek, was: „Kyrillō Kyndaia Taseiō aratheitomai eufrasin”, which means „to Kyrillos, Kyndaias and Taseios I bring praise”. This text was interpreted by different researches, who tried to solve a much complicated hagiologic case as it shows to be at the first sight.
„Kyrillō Kyndaia Taseiō aratheitomai eufrasin”
The name of the old Greek and later Roman city situated on the actual site of Cernavodă was Axiopolis, port on Danube, probably founded by the people from the province’s metropolis, Tomis (today Constanţa). Its importance consisted later also in the fact that it was the seat of the Roman legion II Herculea. It seems that the Christian life was very early here as in Tomis, because many old martyrologies (Syrian, hieronymian, Greek) note the martyrs in Axiopolis during Diocletian’s persecution, from 303. We will speak about the three martyrs in the following.
Saint Kyrillos or Cyril was very popular in Axiopolis, because he was celebrated alone at 12 May (syriac breviarium) and together with Chindeus (Kyndeas) on 9 march (again the syriac breviarium) and 26 April (hieronymian martyrology, in codex Epternaciensis from Paris), but also on 9 May (hieronymian Martyrology, in a codex from Berna, together with Quindeas and Zenon) on 10 may (the same codex, together with Quindeas, Zenon, Dio(n), Accacius and Crispus). Its celebration for 5 times in the year it may be a sign he was a local from here – maybe he died on 26 April, because the hieronymian Martyrology speaks in that day about his birth for the eternal life. The historian Procopius from Caesarea (6th century) writes about the renowned fortress of Justinian near Axiopolis that it bore the patronage of St. Cyril. It is also possible that the here discovered ruins of a big cemetery church may be the original place of his tomb. The inscription about the three saints was also discovered together with these ruins. In a variant of the hieronymian Martyrology from Monte Cassino St. Cyril (9 may) is named as bishop, which is very hard to believe, because only in Justinian’s era there were more bishoprics in the region, others than Tomis. In this case, Cyril may be the bishop of Gortina (Crete) who died during the same persecution, but celebrated in another days (14 June and 9 July) or may be an auxilliar bishop (chorepiskopos).
Sts. Cyril and Kindeas
Saint Chindeus (or Kyndeas, Quindeas) is associated with Cyril on 9 March, 26 April (as Vindeas), 9 and 10 May   as seen before. The Syriac Breviarium celebrates him separately on 20 January. Today a saint with this name is celebrated in the Orthodox Menologies on 1 August, as originally from Perga (Pamphilia). He might be of Roman ancestry, after his name derived probably from Quintus. Victricius of Rouen (early 5th century) mentions him in his De laude Sanctorum among the thaumaturg (wonderworking) saints from Thracia and Moesia.
Depiction of the execution of Dasius from
 the Menologion of Basil II
(late 10th or early 11th century)

Saint Dasius (or Tasios, Taxius) mentioned together with the martyrs in Axiopolis is quite a problem. Normally he is considered to be the martyr from Durostorum (today Silistra in Bulgaria, about 60 km to south), celebrated on 20 November. But the martyrologies associates him with Axiopolis, on 4 October (the martyrical act of Taxius and Hermes from Axiopolis) and 5 August (hieronymian martyrology: „in Axiopoli Hirenei, Eraclii, Dasii”).The name of the city and the inscription might be a sign that he would have died here, maybe together with Cyril and Chindeus.
The Martyrology of Dasius from Durostorum may be resumed as following: He died in 20 November 304, during the persecutions of Diocletian. That happened in connection with the roman feast of Saturnalia, very popular among the soldier. On this occasion a soldier used to be chosen by draw to be the symbolical representative of Saturnus. He was dressed in imperial clothes and during 30 days it was permitted to him to commit the most monstrous acts, including especially acts of sexual misbehavior. At the end of this celebration, the soldier was ritually sacrificed to Saturnus, usually by cutting him with the sword. In 304 the draw has fallen on the Christan soldier Dasius, who „kindled by zeal” and knowing about the shortness of the time, he decided that it is better to suffer tortures for a while in the name of Jesus Christ  and to inherit the eternal life with the saints, than to accept the 30 days of joy. So he confessed his faith and that he prefers to be a sacrifice for Christ. He was imprisoned and in the second day his general Bassus proceeded to the judgement. Dasius confessed that as Christian he obeys only to the celestial Emperor, living during His grace and being enriched by His divine love. After some attempts and tortures for convincing him to abjure the faitn, Bassus ordered the beheading of Dasius. It may be that only before that, his relics to be transported in Durostorum. Later, in 579, his coffin was transported to Ancona, in Italy, being kept until today in St. Cyriacus Church. It is written on it in Greek „here lays St. Martyr Dasius brought from Dorostolon”. Parts of his relics were brought by the Pope John Paul II as a gift for the new re-created metropolitan diocese of Durostorum (Bulgarian Orthodox Church), 22-23 October 2003.
Cathedral in Ancona
Saints Cyril, Chindeas and Dasius are today jointly celebrated in the Romanian Orthodox Church on 26 May. There is a project to build a monastery in the place where the inscription about them was discovered.

We mention here the other Saints celebrated in Axiopolis:
9 May: St. Zenon (celebrated together With Cyril and Chindeus, according to the hieronymian martyrology from Berna)
10 May: Zenon, Dio(n), Accacius and Crispus, together with Quindeas, the same martyrology)
12 May: some unnamed martyrs celebrated together with Cyril (Syriac breviarium)
5 August: St. Irenaeus and Heraclius (together with Dasius, in tne hieronymian martyrology).
4 October: St. Hermes (probably deacon of Heraclea, Thrace), celebrated together with Taxius (as in the martyrical act of the two, in Axiopolis)

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